“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