Michael Hurley

Knucklebones
by Michael Hurley

Roll me up and call me Weakness. Or furrow something tender.
Disappear into a hole hidden in the high grass, now say bask
now say tether now ask if it was as frightening as it looks on television.

Apply it in gobs to your skin,

smear it in circles with your palms. Now smell your fingertips

because you are curious and no one is watching

while you piss and rock backward on your heels.

Will you wash your hands if no one else is there?

Will you sing Happy Birthday?

I used to play a game where we lock fingers

and I twist your wrists and I push your fingers back until you say Mercy.

I push my fingernails into the spaces between your knuckles

because I want to hurt you more. Something I learned in school.

Now say Mercy. Now say pierce.
This is the pilot light, and in here you can see where the stem has broken off.

Is there something you’d like to chew? Is this strange for you?
Rock backward on your heels with someone in your hands.
Bite on something wooden now say bask say tether,

let your insides dangle like a long-case clock.

When I was young I played a game where I bit you with my teeth.

The longer I bit you the more I won the game.

When I was young I played a game where I paused the VCR

and drew on the screen with a marker. I always drew blood.

The more blood I drew, the more I won the game.

I’ve heard you can hit batteries with a hammer and eat what comes out.
I’ve heard it makes you eager. I’ve heard of men melting like film in the attic.

I’ve heard their hands against the glass.

I’ve heard of a game I can win if I hurt you with my hands.
Like: Scramble to gather at previous things. Pull them into your knees

and lean your torso over in case someone larger wants some.

Like: Think of someone you’d like to hurt.
Like: Think of someone else you’d like to hurt.
Like: I bet we could go on forever doing just this.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 4.

Michael-HurleyMichael Hurley is from Pittsburgh. His work has appeared in the Sycamore Review, Weave Magazine, The Fourth River, Fourteen Hills, and is forthcoming in the Spoon River Poetry Review and the New Delta Review. He is the winner of the 2012 Keystone Chapbook Prize, and his chapbook, Wooden Boys, is available from Seven Kitchens Press.

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