Things that Tear

Gal Cohen, Behind Bars

“Behind Bars” By Gal Cohen, Oil on canvas, 40×80 cm

By Domenic Scopa

A sheet of paper. Swollen eyes.

Clouds pierced by sunrays
after summer showers.

A blade does something like this
against skin. A bitter marriage.

Twenty tender heartstrings wrenched
by a lover’s note. That note.

Bandages.
Achilles tendon,

strained (not torn).

A doctor points out tumors on a lung X-ray,
and some section of stomach churns unfamiliar.

If enough blood wanders erratically
from a young man’s stab wound,

and the mugger thwarts, and dodges cops,
we will most likely say the mother’s heart is torn.

Cushions. Worn asphalt.

Morals—a child in a smoggy factory,
standing still in an assembly line for fourteen hours.


Domenic Scopa is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His poetry and translations have been featured in Poetry Quarterly, Reed Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Belleville Park Pages, and many others. He is currently an adjunct professor at New Hampshire Technical Institute, and Plymouth State University. His first book, Walk-in Closet (Yellow Chair Press), is forthcoming in 2017. He currently reads manuscripts for Hunger Mountain and Ink Brush Publications.

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