Self-Portrait in Lust


“Self-Portrait in Lust” by Shakti Shrima received second place in the 2022 Previously Published Poem Prize, selected by Palette editors. We’re honored to share this striking poem!

“Self-Portrait in Lust” was first published in The Collagist (now The Rupture Mag, issue 102)

Self Portrait in Lust

Every morning the sun rises again, meaning there’s something like a god 
I could pray to, or curse. A hammer, too, must hit a nail 

over and over. What else can it do? Every spring the deer 
make new deer. A deer fevers my headlights. I don’t swerve in time. 

Bodies are always crashing into other bodies. The deer stops 
being a deer. Its innards slur the road slick, belonging to nothing 

after failing skin’s capture. Stripped of its own brawl
blood has nowhere to be. Against its blind sprawl and stutter

the world writhes its little laws. Deer gallop into the road 
because they are deer.  I wander into the sun of your body’s wild

machine. My body crashes into my body. There’s no logic in this wreckage—
anything strewn in me could be my heart. I vulture myself when I touch you, 

my stomach its own feast, my tongue a prayer for a tongue. 


                         —originally published in The Rupture Mag


Shakthi Shrima

Shakthi Shrima's work appears or is forthcoming in Triquarterly, Best New Poets, BOAAT, and Copper Nickel, amongst others. Shakthi Shrima appears in her unmade bed. She can be forthcoming.