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3 poems
by Sam Rush

Sam Rush began writing poems after developing progressive hearing loss and realizing how many words each word could be. They are the author of SWALLOW (Sibling Rivalry Press 2021).

Sonnet for citrus rotting & sexual aversion

I’ve fucked to find a zipper down men’s backs

& some to crawl out sideways from my own.

I drank up all the liquor in your house

& so I lay in bed in waiting now

& eat entire bags of clementines.

I’m turning me to fermentation pit.

I’m DIY. I’m drunk on my own make up.

This time may I forget from inside out.

I turn each wedge in circles on my tongue.

I nearly choke & nearly die alone

& grown & in your bed & what a mess 

& while I keep the skin around our flesh,

it holds beneath it sweetness—I am sure

—& when it splits I know it’s nearly gone.

Sonnet for coronation & looks in the locker room

“If a man who thinks he is a king is mad, a king who thinks he is a king is no less so.”

—Jacques Lacan

Mad King. Finches’ kingdom. Birdies built me

crown of sticks with needle tips left over.

Built myself my sovereign even back before this

lip grown velvet. Pin prick magic. Half prick.

Half sweat. Half swagger. Wrong gym bathroom 

both ways. Half gone missing. Half left over.

Half the kingdom. King of Halfdom. Halfling King

who’ll sing his anthem. Voice, crack against the tile.

Sideways glancing. Never meant to make a scene.

Unsung seen queen. Stuck in your head ‘til you

chorus to the manager. Never meant to make a scene.

Me in my royalty. King Halfling of Scenery.

If a man who thinks he is a king is mad,

a king who thinks he is a man—Prove it.

Sonnet for phobia & why we waste away


Theory: God made a mouth at both ends 

& me a hunger ripped between. Theory:

Fear wakes up inside the wrong body.

How does it leave. Theory: A boy. Swallows

a girl to keep them both from starving. Theory: 

We dress our tongues in tongues & disappear

around their kneading. This is the same. 

Replace the tongues with nothing. Theory: 

We were raised sirens in a soundproof room. 

I didn’t lose my hearing. I let it choke

a prayer to continuity. Theory: 

There is one scream. There has only ever 

been one scream. My mouth is a pipeline out. 

My mouth is a tributary. Bursting.

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