Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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Two Poems
by Marc Swan


What I remember

What I see when he comes in
to meet me before his case arrives
is the throbbing in his head
above the left eye
a crevice that thumps
as if something alive were pushing out
Never stopping

when he tells me he only touched her breast
once  "A misunderstanding"
that took him to Bridgewater
then to Taunton State for three years
"On the outside" he says
"of her blouse"

The thick vein in his forehead throbs
with each word
and when there are no words
then he says "nail clipper"
says he took a nail clipper and dug a hole
in his right arm above the elbow
in his locked room

In his locked room he sunk the tiny jaws
into his right arm
and severed the vein
"with a little click"

He says blood "spurted and spurted
and spurted " until an attendant saw the blood
spurting and took him to the infirmary
where they stitched the clipped vein

All of this in five maybe ten minutes
then he shakes my hand and walks out
of the six by eight cubicle I work in
into the bright light outside the window
three cubicles away

His case will arrive soon

Nixon Beads

He sits in front of me --
a mask of determination,
a bundle of raw nerves
     caged in sweaty palms.
Why do they always want to shake hands?

"Ran in front of my car"
he says, at twelve-forty-five
on a Friday night
     after his shift;

no drinking or drugs
just long hours and "a second and a half
to decide."

He never hit the brakes.
The nineteen-year-old UMASS/Amherst
psych major died;
his eighteen-year-old girlfriend
paralyzed for life.

A forty-two-year-old man
in designer eyewear --
     Nixon beads dripping off his upper lip --
says he has no guilt,
"never missed a wink
        of sleep."




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