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bred in the bone of a nuclear world
poor parents, levelled by history
they had no idea
status anxiety as toxic as success
at first I read their script by rote
(not knowing what a Red was)
my mother at the dinner table
Girls, listen to your father; he’s a smart man.
I thought (trying not to roll my eyes)
must be the “man” part

I could tell you

I escaped from the basement
where I was chained to a pipe and starved
or that I was one of the chiefs, crawling to Kurtz
or refused to admit the difference
between a sheep and a wife
or maybe I was the Sybil
turned to dust, suspended in a bottle
mocked by passing boys
because I wouldn’t fuck Apollo

while what really happened was bad enough
static chatter in an anxious family

later, we thought nothing could go wrong
(though everything was)
the surrogate parents (teachers)
not much better than the real ones

self serving,narcissistic
the wrong gender, the right race
damage the effect of neglect
stupidity ever the base

mistaking attention for rescue
seduced by a Magritte window
out of claustrophobia
night school saved my life
islands of intelligence
made to feel like a somebody

the first few hits were free
then hooked, betrayed, ignored
consigned to the garbage heap
not knowing the difference
between middle hell
and the mean of a crappy structural heap
regret rien oh! contraire

momentary terror
at the turbulence of descent
you stay with the trouble
this origin story stands:
never a victory narrative
you’d stake your life on

Dion Farquhar has recent poems in Superpresent, Blind Field, Poesis, Cape Rock: Poetry, Poydras Review, Mortar, Local Nomad, Columbia Poetry Review, moria, Shifter, BlazeVOX, etc. Her third poetry book Don’t Bother is in press at Finishing Line Press, and she has three chapbooks. She works as an exploited adjunct at two universities, but still loves the classroom, and she is active in the University of California Santa Cruz adjunct union, the UC-AFT.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN