You Are Your Text

When’s the last time you went to church…you go to church?

His eyebrows were raised to punctuate the question that seemed to come from nowhere. Here I am showing him poems from my collection about the residents of Jonestown, Guyana: How’s my technique? Tension? Meter? And he’s asking me about my religion, which is, in my estimation, like asking me what color panties I’m wearing: it’s impolite.

Marrow has been a collection of stops and starts, so daunted am I by the crossroads it represents: You are a resident. You know you would’ve been there, right? You are your text. He tells me with the assured wisdom that in not-quite-a week at this writing workshop I have come to respect and crave from him.

Fear, shame, revelation: they all feel the same after my workshop leader’s pronouncement, and for the next week and a half of being in the writing workshop, I tackle the text feverishly. That was in May; I have been tackling it with a similar nervous urgency since.  Here are drafts of a couple of the texts that I’m working on. They came from that workshop:

Hot Child In The City: The Haircut

I love myself too

Belly playing peekaboo
as I claim the sidewalk,
smear its cracks under the balls
of my feet twisting decidedly
thick hair
I part before bed
to scratch sand caught
in its dense springs.

I need a lie
to give in my place
so I shave to prickly
communism pinch my thigh
blue and break the mirror
with my boot.

How many days I
spent culling a cadence
with my gum for the
boys at the

crunch to
Johnny, Leroy, Dave, Carroll, Junior.
Tufts flurrying to my feet
like snow.

And my nails
grow these days.


What We Talk About In Our Cottage
I. Want
lack; not enough and claiming
more; a need met in tandem:
if all else fails. Because we can’t live without it.

II. Will
the flesh is not dots and dashes
has no patterns; is an insistent knock alarming
sleep from its corner trembling
face hidden.

III. Athlete’s foot
cover of make believe manages
absolutes clumsily—

Crazy equals foolish, near-sighted;
laughable and common,
the work superfluous.


(Poet darlene anita scott is a regular contributor to the jonestown report. Her complete collection of writings and poetry for this site may be found here. She can be reached at