A Poem: ‘All The World Begins With a Yes’

 In ALIVE, Poetry

You don’t say. Then there’s a man taking
another man inside himself. Withdrawn,

his hands now rest in his lap. Counting out
the missing teeth and the varying stories

about how they came to be gone. The women
are displaced. Each an out-of-body experience.

I was beside myself, one remarks. A rib contradicts
its mirror image. Glass has mastered the art of

world building, the brevity of silence in self-
reflection. I am no authority on what is out there,

nor the line between trespasser and trespassed.
Things without mouths cannot give consent,

but body language is a system of gestures.
The shoulders are experimental poets,

the legs offering no closure to sound.
The eyes darting, disturbing the meter.

A relativity of rhyme or reason, was there ever
a time when I did not sell my body? I am ready

to turn in for the night. A full quiver.
Morality flexes its musculature, trusting

that truth sets out to penetrate mysteries,
only for man to rebuild them with fury.

The reality that this life is pleasurably
painful is something that I can rely on.

I had perceived you would leave. I won’t
not go, you said. End: a burden of boon.

I don’t know what it means to hurt,
on account of the signified signifier.

I am hungry and you are fearful.
The ocean is breakbeat blue.

Desire: a longing damned.
A man once walked in on me

holding the mouth of a woman in
my own. Live and let live, an act of

grace, a folding of threat in on it-
self. Sorrow devours the image,

the hour of the star upon us.
So little has taken place.



Alison C. Rollins, born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, currently works as a librarian for Nerinx Hall High School. She is the “second- prize winner” of the 2016 James H. Nash Poetry contest and a finalist for the 2016 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in “American Poetry Review,” “Hayden’s Ferry Review,” “Meridian,” “Missouri Review,” “The Offing,” “Poetry,” “The Poetry Review,” “River Styx,” “Solstice,” “TriQuarterly,” “Tupelo Quarterly, “Vinyl” and elsewhere. A member of Cave Canem as well as a Callaloo Fellow, she is also a 2016 recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship.

Photo by Attilio D’Agostino.

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