“Little Beast” by Richard Siken


An all-night barbeque. A dance on the courthouse lawn.
     The radio aches a little tune that tells the story of what the night
is thinking. It’s thinking of love.
             It’s thinking of stabbing us to death
and leaving our bodies in a dumpster.
   That’s a nice touch, stains in the night, whiskey and kisses for everyone.

Tonight, by the freeway, a man eating fruit pie with a buckknife
    carves the likeness of his lover’s face into the motel wall. I like him
and I want to be like him, my hands no longer an afterthought.


Someone once told me that explaining is an admission of failure.
    I’m sure you remember, I was on the phone with you, sweetheart.


History repeats itself. Somebody says this.
    History throws its shadow over the beginning, over the desktop,
over the sock drawer with its socks, its hidden letters.
            History is a little man in a brown suit
    trying to define a room he is outside of.
I know history. There are many names in history
                  but none of them are ours.


He had green eyes,
            so I wanted to sleep with him
    green eyes flecked with yellow, dried leaves on the surface of a pool–
You could drown in those eyes, I said.
              The fact of his pulse,
the way he pulled his body in, out of shyness or shame or a desire
    not to disturb the air around him.
Everyone could see the way his muscles worked,
            the way we look like animals,
                his skin barely keeping him inside.
      I wanted to take him home
and rough him up and get my hands inside him, drive my body into his
    like a crash test car.
              I wanted to be wanted and he was
very beautiful, kissed with his eyes closed, and only felt good while moving.
    You could drown in those eyes, I said,
                  so it’s summer, so it’s suicide,
so we’re helpless in sleep and struggling at the bottom of the pool.


It wasn’t until we were well past the middle of it
    that we realized
the old dull pain, whose stitched wrists and clammy fingers,
              far from being subverted,
had only slipped underneath us, freshly scrubbed.
          Mirrors and shop windows returned our faces to us,
      replete with the tight lips and the eyes that remained eyes
               and not the doorways we had hoped for.
His wounds healed, the skin a bit thicker than before,
    scars like train tracks on his arms and on his body underneath his shirt.


We still groped for each other on the backstairs or in parked cars
                as the roads around us
grew glossy with ice and our breath softened the view through a glass
      already laced with frost,
but more frequently I was finding myself sleepless, and he was running out of
But damn if there isn’t anything sexier
          than a slender boy with a handgun,
                  a fast car, a bottle of pills.


What would you like? I’d like my money’s worth.
            Try explaining a life bundled with episodes of this—
      swallowing mud, swallowing glass, the smell of blood
on the first four knuckles.
              We pull our boots on with both hands
but we can’t punch ourselves awake and all I can do
        is stand on the curb and say Sorry
           about the blood in your mouth. I wish it was mine.

I couldn’t get the boy to kill me, but I wore his jacket for the longest time.

~ Richard Siken, from Crush


I tried to get the line formatting as close to Siken’s as possible. To see the poem in its original format, you may read it in a .pdf version of Crush HERE or buy the book on Amazon HERE.

A wave of thanks and gratitude to Josie F. who suggested this poem for us via our Contact page.