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Monday, December 01, 2014


by Jenna Le

Image source: CP4

Once, I was so young
that, like a raw onion,
my concentric circles reluctant
to relax their grip on
one another’s whiteness,
a whiff of me could make you cry.
I had so much power,

but all I wanted
was to see people smile
when I walked into a room.
So I kept mum about
my real opinions
so that people would like me.
And it worked. I began to

feel smug about my popularity.
When I saw a rabble-rouser
hoisted on the gallows,
I sneered,
thinking he would not
be hanging there
if, like me, he knew

the secret to being liked.
When I saw a man
with six circular gunshots
in his face and chest
sprawled on crimson cement,
I did not say, “There but for the grace…”
I did not believe

in favors. I believed
I had carved my own niche
in the world using
my smarts, my likability.
I had a vivid memory
of myself with a penknife
in my hand, carving,

never thinking to ask
how that bloody knife
ended up in my hand,
or whose blood it was.

Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), which was a Small Press Poetry Bestseller. Her poems have appeared in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, The Southampton Review.