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ESSAY ON WHAT IS & ISN'T by Cameron Awkward-Rich

to c.e.

When a man says knife

is no form of seduction

he means he’s never been

split. But doesn’t everyone

have a seam? Unravel

to dark sugar?


He tore a hole where there was

no hole, a dagger flat

against my tongue. Was it

violence? Yes. Also

I found a name then, became

stranger to everyone but me.

When a hole is open, anyone can use it.

I can cleave, push inside.


Once, I only ate what wouldn’t

nourish. I had one mouth. Grew

thin as a wire. Boy,

in the beginning, a blade

severed the line, made you

a body & isn’t that

when you learned hunger?


Cameron Awkward-Rich is the author of Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016) and the chapbook Transit (Button Poetry, 2015). A Cave Canem fellow and poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine, Cam's poems have appeared/are forthcoming in The Journal, The Offing, Vinyl, Nepantla, Indiana Review, Drunken Boat, and elsewhere. Cam is currently a doctoral candidate in Modern Thought & Literature at Stanford University and has essays forthcoming/in Science Fiction Studies and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.

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