Today's poem is by Tom C. Hunley

Self-Portrait as a Childís Stick Figure Drawing on a Refrigerator
        ďYou are not what you think you are. You are something to be imagined.Ē
                                                — Clayton Eshleman

Often Iím a musical instrument
thatís afraid of the sounds inside.
My days consist of arrayed efforts
not to hear or hum.
Iím like a baby who screams
at first seeing his arms swinging,
unaware those whips flung
straight at his head are attached to his body.
Why are you doing this to me?
a man asks his body as it fights sleep
and the crucial appendage droops after a woman
says Okay, why not, after steak and lobster
and Hugh Grantís latest formulaic schlock.
So spent, his body mocks him; he canít
fathom how he ever lifted the long-stemmed rose
he gave her, now drooping a little, too.
In my sonís latest drawing labeled ďDaddy,Ē
my hairs are stray spaghetti strands,
my head an oversized triangle crushing my stick-thin frame,
and a briefcase weights my three-fingered hand.
Often I feel sketchy like that, as if all the wrong colors
spill over my faint lines and anyone could cross me out
just like that. I havenít always felt like a stick figure.
I havenít always been an instrument
left forgotten in its case. I remember a time
in junior high when Doug Dickerson passed me
a pornographic flip book, the male stick figureís stick penis
getting bigger and bigger and the female stick figureís
stick legs getting farther and farther apart
until the stick figure bed broke and something hidden
deep inside me broke through, broke my body wide open,
a strange inchoate music that wanted to come out.

Copyright © 2011 Tom C. Hunley All rights reserved
from National Poetry Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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