“Cringe” By Ben Hartman

Digging and dragging my nails into a
Chalkboard until they break, and then some more,
Until the tip of my bone makes contact
And screams like a siren pounding with rage,
Until it bursts the drum of a stray dog’s ear.

Silverware screeching on a dinner plate;
The sparring of knife and fork within the
Confines of their porcelain arena
Echoes like rabid mice in microphones
Gnawing the hair on the back of my neck.

The pearl’s
Precious peerless luster poisoned, stolen
By rejected lead.
Metallic ferrule’s edge scraping across
The paper, choking a dirge in remembrance
Of the eraser’s soiled and blackened death.

Like licking a malicious envelope
Containing characters of ill intent,
These words taste like a papercut upon
My tongue.  Seemingly harmlessly innocent
Then strikes
Alacrity
A laceration
A taste of blood
Adrenaline

These repugnant revulsions are blesséd
Or at least lesser evils compared to
The ghastly horrors that leave me shaken
When your wretched voice ripples and tortures
Inside of my ear or when I encounter
Any slight semblance of your curséd name.

A single serpentine syllable sends
My sickened stomach writhing in disgust.

My vertebrae shudder as the whining
Window shutter sways hither and thither,

Drenched in dreadful apprehension for the
Malevolent breeze or rust-coated hinge
To haunt me and mimic horrid sounds of
you.

Alas! The
Aforementioned repugnant revulsions
Become my last defense.


Ben Hartman is a graduate from Lawrence University (WI, 2012) with a Bachelor’s Degree in History.  ” A blank page and no ideas is a terrifying experience. But to turn away from fear is to ignore something beautiful.”

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