about the author

Dustin Pearson earned his MFA at Arizona State University, where he also served as the editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review. He was awarded the 2015 Katharine C. Turner Prize from the Academy of American Poets for his poem “The Black Body Auditions for a Play.” He is the recipient of fellowships from the Watering Hole, Cave Canem, and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Born in Charleston, he is from Summerville, SC.

Bookmark and Share


font size

Two Poems 

Dustin Pearson

A Subtext for Violence

Mom and Dad aren’t speaking in the next room.
Dark hides both of their torsos, but you can still
see their lower bodies. They’re holding hands
even if Mom is crying. A low frost runs over
everyone’s feet. Nothing’s left to turn the heat on.
In your room you’re left to your own devices,
danger of the outside world impressed on you.
You click on the television to find it. You flip
through the channels, each passing image a switch
you haven’t turned or imagined. Seeing someone die.
Between seven turns on the dial you glimpse your first
and second. A man with a gun in his hands. A face
downturned in mud. Blood running over water over dirt,
it’s not enough, not yet. Can you stay innocent now
that you’re thinking clever, that you’re trying to know
for yourself what you don’t yet? Rummage through
the trashcan. Find an empty two-liter. Fill it again
with water. Add a few drops of ink from an old red marker.
Now you have a body filled with blood. Take it outside.
Don’t take any of this seriously. Your parents might hear
you stirring. They’re occupied. Take your time. Your siblings
are asleep and way behind you. You could explain to them
what in this goes badly. Take a pen, a blunt sub for a knife.
In the body, make punctures. Be excited. Be frightened
when they make a spill in a cold wash down the driveway.

Folding Flesh

Our dad arranges us
ornaments and other
furnishings throughout
an empty living room.

One by one we become
a lamp, a couch,
an entertainment center

bound so tight
in human leather
we can’t get out,
and he leaves us,

creased, eventually
standing straight
but walking funny
when we’re not reverting
naturally in shame
to sleep...

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...