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Elijah Bowen Dec 2019
the hunchback moves with the pews
alongside children and their man
who, stiffening under his corduroy,
sits behind his services.
so lost in a translation and a tot.
hunched, i could wail
the miracle of touching in the blind.

beneath the steeple, i am told,
dirt in the eye makes it whole.
beneath the scabbed ground,
are families who wore denim
even in portraits
even when mangled with steel on the interstate.
above, i am so very lonely.

i am told they were buried in pairs.
the children’s man tells me the caskets
were closed for the service.
i want to tell him i never asked.
he involves himself with the bodies
like a shard in the night.
he and the tender middle,
pinned among ashes and ashes.

(oh god can you see

the soil

and your shepherd’s hand heading down to meet it?)

the hunchback under paper bedsheets
is a behemoth of all exterior.
touch him, tangle with it.
peeled open to the innards,
and in resignation,
there are sadder truths under the skin.
small as nail clippings on the linoleum
and me tossing myself onto the spike.

in whatever misshapen ****** i barter,
i know i still breathe like you do.
placing it all here, then,
at the holy foot of
every physicality i am mangled with,
it is a simple confession-

that you can’t know how this could be tears me apart.
'Does anyone still want to go with me into a panorama? '
—Max Brod

The sun floats down river
Resting from a long day.
As Banvard draws love

Birds in the sand.
She tries to explain
How his deformity angers her.

Unable, she leaves him
On the other side of the shore.
Banvard becomes

a traveling salesman,
s campfire fiddler,
s drunk, a painter of shores.

Yearning for her—

He turns her into the Mississippi shore.
Riding the long river, floating

On a brush, he paints her portrait.
Huge bolts of love
The canvas sags from longing

Immense wood contraption
(Gears-pulleys crank machinery)
Three miles of canvas.

An uninterrupted portrait.

The papers publish the spectacle
'The hunchback painter and his panorama! '

He builds a wooden stage
Winds up river then down.
The lines are long, (.50 cents.)

They wait for hours...

He sits in the middle
Of hungry brush stroke
Up river

Up river

Eyes straining—

To find her.

Nominated for a Pushcart Award 2008
Nominated for a Pushcart Award 2008   The idea of the poem came from a book I was reading at the time wth the same title.  It was a book of how history will always remember the Edisons, Einsteins and Darwins. But what about the others with similarly revolutionary ideas, but who plummeted into oblivion?
Oscar Mann Nov 2015
The first time I visited the freak show
I nearly burst into tears
It wasn’t because of the cruelty of it all
It wasn’t because of their cruel deformities
It wasn’t even guilt, not even a bit
It wasn’t about the greed from the stupid ***
Who ran the freak show

I burst into tears because I immediately understood
That the roles were reversed
And that we were the freaks
We, the cowards, who hide our deformities
And denounce our guilt as useless morality
And clutch onto greed and a hunger for entertainment
While every day we ourselves star in the freak’s parade

And the freaks themselves they are not moved
By my dreaded revelations
For them the truth was always pure and simple
Bonded by their deformities
They understand kinship and compassion
As they clutch on to each other
And the parade of freaks moves past them once more
Kenna Marie Jul 2015
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Yet, people smolder every meaning of the word beauty.
Taking procedures in order to obtain this image of perfection, but it is right built inside of you. Believe it or not, whatever you need you got!
Reading this now with your eyes, heart beating to the sound of survival.

Educating yourself on how to accomplish revival because you are dead.
The laughter comes in sequences syncing perfectly to those begging for attention.
Revolt revolt!
Build a catapult to launch yourself away from here.

Lose yourself in all the sincere.
Perform a test to see if you're the best.
“You are defeat compared to the rest!”
Start to dress to impress when the prevalence isn’t up to par,
spending days alone at empty bars.

“Dare to make a move!”
“It won’t improve you.”
“You got nothing to lose!”
“Yeah, well how about your skeleton starting a rebellion? You’re yelling, starting to tell your children the beginnings of this addiction.”

It swallows you whole, your body is totaled.
Now, you’re in the rusting pile of traveled miles of rot...
Forgetting what you are what what you’re not.
refresh mesh May 2015
my story starts in North Carolina morning at 5:32
where I was excavated from my mother's womb
2 weeks past due
and immediately taken to an emergency room
because of a minor disfigurement called
ulnar polydactyly
where they laid me down and cut flesh & bone away

value your days and spin on a tire
at the bottom of a tree, twist the rope.
cut away any fray and pickle your desire
it's not a noose, it's not your hope.

i was born differently than peaks explained
i was told medical bills were a blessing obtained
so that my fingers would not continue to grow
so that fortunately, none of us will ever know
where those bitty bits would want to go
where would I go?
if I hadn't been bound
by what I hadn't contained?

how do parents agree to cosmetic surgery on their newborns?

don't they feel sick?

when my mother explained why i had these scars
She didn't ask how they felt on my hands.
and when my father kissed the bumps crunched on cars
He insisted that I had intact, normal, nerve strands.
But I could feel phantom fingers
and devil horns

don't they feel sick?

now I spend every day
chewing all the rest away
Now I count months and men
Men, who will cut their brood out of their only mate
to slice off any disfigurements and hold its jaw in place
then ball those hands in fists so her fingers can rest in peace

Listen when I ask for help
don't Give up on my body, just
cut the hearts of those playing God, for
anything Or anyone can happen to a newborn child, or
else, not again, it's
off, not again, not
today, not again.

I'm 6 years old, alone and terribly
glad to be awake
free of the villain that I’d been
free to make
Chunky animated evil clouds and monsters
with human names
mistrusting my family from the
earliest days
imagining my parents were zipped up
in skin resembling mine
their starchy air force uniforms
finding me everytime
Then my baby brother was on time, cooked just right,
born perfectly
When I found out about his circumcision I stopped
feeling sisterly

Why were my sweet, placid parents so surprised by us?
Keeping their secrets and distance from us.
Give us the answers, show us history!
why take me to Sunday School if you
won't sit through all of it with me?

there is nothing more disturbing than weekly church hopping.
there is so much to fear if we do not plan on ever stopping.
when I look for friends
i do so excitedly
looking for their ailments
and finger ******.
wondering who else
is in horror
of their size,
of their capacity.

"Look at these baby spiders in our garden,
Look, momma. They're so tiny.
The pumpkin nearly squished-
There's a centipede!" I'd be whining.
But, oh,
It's gross. I hear "eww" and "oh my god" and
"throw it away, bugs belong outside!"
I can do that. We all belong outside. I can do that.

From Santa Monica to Rapid City
I turned 8 and avoided depression
I plagued every single bookstore with
my ridiculous obsession:
Tornadoes, forests, food chains and chemistry
already fascinated me

I loved that;
the atmosphere of creation.
Shapes alive
with Movement and
centrifugal Force,
stopping motion, Pressure,
inertia and Speed.

I studied
legs. I watched the
long propelling jumpers, the
tool-like structures, of
insect tarsal claws, and
the spurs like knives.

Then aquatic mammals came to me
Where I first learned about ***:
the whale's hip bone, a mystery.
To the history of earth, it was
Big males, powerful females.
and evolution seemed to be the cause.

Then arboreal anthropods,
Where I first asked about distribution,
toes and fingers,
and counted
on hand
the numbers
and suddenly
deplored extinction.

It was a hot knife in my belly that never went away
I want to ask their god all the questions that besot me
why did they agree (twice!) to cut away that which is not rotting?
If DNA is best selected among genetic diversity, why must we all look and feel the same?
Blanching at any difference, hating on new names.

is it such a disaster
to expect variation from your master?
why are 2 extra phalanges
such ******* calamities?
Why do we observe differences
as an excuse to mutilate newborn babies?
Americans slice ******* off intact baby boys
Americans slice ******* off intact baby boys

A doctor deemed my extensions useless
but left me my brain and heart
which began to terrorize me
from the very simple start

I dreamed of all of us:
scary islands with giant magical
who was poisonous
to the population of anyone and
who was dangerous
printing off the battle plan which was
Yes, I dreamed of all of us
Where is my gold star and my participation trophy
Esther Apr 2015
The light bulbs burst when you walked in,

And the sparks ignited my skin.

The fire was still burning long after you were gone,

Until I was charred to the bone.

I recall how you clawed at the meat,

Right above where my heart beat.

Your red eyes glowed in glee,

Until I could no longer see,

Blinded by the one thing

That I thought only you could bring.

Then I heard the snipping,

As you cut the strings

And began humming to my screams.

A harmony of two extremes.

When the flood lights shone through,

There was no more you;

Only a permanent deformity

And ripped arteries.
one of the first poems I ever wrote about 2 years ago

— The End —