Abstinence Anthem


Abstinence Anthem

Somebody hid a razorblade
in the shag carpeting at school.
Jake Graham hammered bamboo spears
behind blood-orange fingernails,
and bound my wrists in velvet ropes.

This was nothing compared to those 15 minutes.

I was no more than a stalk of sugarcane
when I first got tested. Mother’s face was
a cantaloupe, halved: a mess
of irate, toothy seeds glued
in egg yolk viscera.

She played bridge with the admin
outside, and I assumed cantaloupe skin.

In 15 minutes, you can sing Janet’s
“Let’s Wait Awhile” 3.4 times.
I was a Vietnamese rumble
fish, in a pot set to boil, frantically
warbling my abstinence anthem.

—Tyler Dennis

Tyler Dennis is a twenty-two-year-old senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When he’s not cooking pizzas at his place of employment, he’s reading and writing as much as he can. This poem was first runner-up in A&U’s Christopher Hewitt Award literary contest.