“Copperhead”, by Chapman Hood Frazier

Copperhead

Love you always thought was abandonment,
a warmth you were drawn to even as
you slice yourself in the sweet sacrament of desire,
a pain you’ve learned to live with
 
just beneath the skin. All venom releases white
in your art of cutting. Your cat-eyed strike
hidden in just your flick of tongue 
along an inner thigh till you sink deep
 
to bone. What comes next is your cunning
disdain for staying, a silent resolve that time
and distance will balm all the pain remaining.
So, you leave, cold and aching, from a love only
 
your body knew. To heal, then, is just a hardening
of the heart and a new tattoo bled through.

Chapman Hood Frazier’s book, The Lost Books of the Bestiary, will be published by V Press LC in March 2022. His poetry has appeared in The Virginia Quarterly, The Southern Poetry Review, The South Carolina Poetry Review and other small press publications and been nominated for a Push Cart Prize. It has won a variety of awards from The Poetry Society of Virginia as well as other venues. His interviews with contemporary poets have been published in The Writer’s Chronicle, Shenandoah, and Agni Online and he’s edited The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review and Longwood University’s The Dos Passo’s Review. He lives in Rice, Virginia with his wife, Deborah Carrington.

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