Read by the author


by Janice N. Harrington

Featured Art: “Squall” by Madara Mason


My skin, my confessor, my cubicle,

scrivener, touch screen, touch-collector.

Frame and shawl and portmanteau. Wait,

wait, don’t go. The sun’s too high,

too hot. You’ll burn for sure.


On my face, this scattered Braille.

Read what my cheek says; all those

cuts on my hands, read those too.

And that vowel in the small of my back,

say it, repeat after me.


A door for out, a door for in,

I’m in my skin, within, within. Without?

You mean without your skin?


The skin against my thigh says

warm, dry, soft, weight of, knows

silken and kerseymere, says here.

Says, yes. Says, no.

It whispers with its electric tongue, release

and absence. But absence is always worse.

It’s the one that leaves the scar.


Skin-clock, tick-tock, tick-tock.


A scar, a scurry, I wouldn’t worry.

We’re only skin scenes, skin-scapes,

little dioramas with clever apes,

a skin, akin, pretense, pretend.

Let me ask again, your skin or mine?




Janice N. Harrington’s latest book of poetry is Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin (BOA Editions, 2016). She curates “A Space for Image,” a blog about poetic imagery, and teaches at the University of Illinois, where she is Director of the Creative Writing Program.

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