“Boy in a Whalebone Corset” by Saeed Jones

The acre of grass is a sleeping
swarm of locusts, and in the house
beside it, tears too are mistaken.
thin streams of kerosene
when night throws itself against
the wall, when Nina Simone sings
in the next room without her body
and I’m against the wall, bruised
but out of mine: dream-headed
with my corset still on, stays
slightly less tight, bones against
bones, broken glass on the floor,
dance steps for a waltz
with no partner. Father in my room
looking for more sissy clothes
to burn. Something pink in his fist,
negligee, lace, fishnet, whore.
His son’s a whore this last night
of Sodom. And the record skips
and skips and skips. Corset still on,
nothing else, I’m at the window;
he’s in the field, gasoline jug,
hand full of matches, night made
of locusts, column of smoke
mistaken for Old Testament God.

“Boy in a Whalebone Corset” from Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones (Coffee House Press, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Saeed Jones (on Twitter @theferocity)

To hear a selection of five poems from Jones’s Prelude to Bruise (and a playlist inspired by poems in the book) visit  “5 Poems From “Prelude To Bruise” Read By Saeed Jones” on Buzzfeed.