Adrian Blevins Adrian Blevins

For My Students

Some of my students swallow Prozac and a fair number are lesbians.
Those who are not lesbians suffer the kind of sexual trouble
I relate to the housewives of the 1950's

and those who do not suffer that kind of trouble
stopped eating in the eighth grade
and walk around as if they're trying to become

contours or handmade walking canes.
If you say one word about peaches or peppergrass sauce—
peppergrass sauce is not a real food,

but one I just made up as I often do in class
to trick my students into trying to eat—
my students will bring in a teaspoon of yogurt, say,

and deposit it into their modest pink mouths
while simultaneously noting that the poem does bloom—
they'll say bloom—to its ultimate point of grievance.

I know about my students' bodies
because my students write about their bodies.
I stay up late every single night

wondering if I should call my midwife to get the Blood Wort
and other herbal remedies. I mean, I worry constantly.
I mean, do Geometers worry constantly?

One day I'll leave this place
and my students will come to me
like a million moths or stars or animal eyes.

I'll wake and walk to the nearest window
and look out on the air and imagine I smell some sorrows
in the winter wind, but it'll just be

my students out there making a go
of getting rid of me. I mean, it'll be this song.
I mean, already, already, already they're gone.

Life History

I got this nose-shaped bruise on my left arm from falling into a rack of dolls at Wal-Mart.
This scar on my ring finger came from when I put my hand into a beehive when I was two,
a calamity about which I wept into Daddy's lissome clavicle for three and a half months.

At for the stretchmarks, don't ask about the stretchmarks. There are men who like them,
but men are liars making lairs, body-shaped soul-boats of stretchmark-making liquids
and big ideas about the beauty of women. I've been around. I know what makes a woman

beautiful. This scar under my eye is from when I played mouse with my cat Sebastian.
I am not sure how cats could leave a mark, but with me they do.
It's as though they wish to marry me or say hello,hello perpetually.

In photographs of me as a baby, I'm white space all over.
Now in this early fall of my thirty-seventh year there are freckles, moles,
and other assorted blotches. They say it's sun damage, maybe one day will be cancer.

Let us wait and see. When you get born, you are as blue as a bad painting of Saturn
in the middle of the night. When you're that blue, they might think you didn't make it.
They might think you opted out at the last minute, climbing a cable of light

to some spirit world fiesta. But really you're just getting the slow hang of gasping.
You're signing up for the Orientation, taking notes via the sluggish appartus of your lungs
while they cut off the cord and take ten names for test-drives.

Then you start to breathe. Then you turn pink. The more you wait, the pinker you get.
It's not the pink of salmon, and it's not the pink of tongue.
It's not the pink of the sunset of the pink of Matisse's “Portrait of Madame Matisee”

for I-don't-know-how-much money. This pink is the pink of the long inhale.
I know because I saw a dead woman who was mostly dissected,
and she was the color of sand. I looked at her and felt nothing.

I wondered if she was Eskimo. I cut my toe here walking up the stairs.
I knocked my head against the medicine chest and thereby got indented.
My heart sometimes jumps and skips a beat. I don't know how I harmed it,

but I'm sure it was some blunder or another —one of the times
I took a pill, drank tequila, or gave birth against my will. Maybe it was when I told Daddy
my crying days were over and took up gulping stones.

But let's assume for the purposes of being accurate
that it was that long ago morning I first attempted speech,
burrowing out of myself like a silky spider, climbing the cliff of unremitting self-infliction,

saying you —and you, and you, and you, and you— will one day pay for this.

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“Poetry is best...when it finds itself at the heart of the human comedy.” —Charles Simic

“Let's build a boat, and let's sail across this goddamn sea.”—Tony Hoagland

Contributor Notes