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Featured Fifty Poetry: WHAT I SEE

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Shavawn M. Berry's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rebelle Society, The Cancer Poetry Project 2, Kinema Poetics, Kalliope, Poet Lore, Westview - A Journal of Western Oklahoma, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Concho River Review, North Atlantic Review, Synapse, Living Buddhism, Blue Mountain Arts/SPS, and Poetry Seattle. Her technique essay on the dramatic monologue/persona poem is featured in a poetry database published in 2013 by Ebsco Publishing. In 1998, she received her MPW in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she specialized in Creative Nonfiction and Memoir. Ms. Berry teaches writing at Arizona State University where she is currently a 2013 Lincoln Ethics Teaching Fellow. You can follow her on Facebook or read more of her work on her blog. A portfolio featuring a selection of her essays, blog postings, and prose is available at here.

WHAT I SEE is about aging, about seeing myself through the lens of experience, and recognizing how my life has etched itself onto my body.


I see a weathered crow, folded wings
Her children, once shimmering ovum―
Dried chickpeas―strung into a garrote
Palo Verde longing for its phantom limbs

I see breasts, pale areolas slowly blinking skyward
Peripheral edema, a turtle's neck
Double chin riding her pubis,
Scar slashed above the tree line

I see residual cuts, tubes, probes
Lost surgical instruments stitched up
With men who left her
Meticulously mapped skin, tongue in her marrow

I see a gazelle's shoulders,
A mouth smeared with blood
Traces of a woman falling inside out
Tributaries, charcoal lines, a pencil sketch of her shattered limbs

I see everything lush, fragrant;
Everything fractured;
Everything polished, smoothed

I see a skin horse

A thrumming hive,

A frayed overcoat beaten soft

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