Soft Subjects

Lillian Brown

After Yusef Komunyakaa


Say something with complete certainty,

something that you know to be true,

fact-checked & people wrecked

& get a little naked while you do it.

Strip down & speak in absolutes,

explain how you know, why you know,

who rubbed your back when it happened,

& why they’re not the one hundred & fifty

pounds of flesh snoring next to you in bed.


Say something about never cutting the crust off of sandwiches,

about second-guessing first loves & first times

& how birthdays stop & start

mattering again within the space of a few years.

Say something about your mother & your father,

about blood, curves, empty spaces, empty bedrooms.

Yes, say something about “guest” rooms

that aren’t for guests,

about flushing the dead fish,

about who slips on the ice after the storm

& who’s already waiting on the ground.




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