Poetry: “Inside the body museum” by Andrew Walker

Inside the Body


entry fee

looping floss around the lame tooth

will lop it off, falling to the pile

like loose change—a mouth

is the entrance to all i am 

willing to give you. the markings

on a lover’s neck share the mountains

and valleys on my own arm, 

i have yet to taste any other part 

of me.

exhibit: the last drop of ocean, bottled

again, I see it again,

        mirrors in mirrors, shattered,

               stones thrown for the glass’s gift, 

for what it hides, and i

        have taken the shards—claw

               sharp—to my paperthin skin

and have seen the ocean 

        that sings within me,

               bottled, traded, sitting now 

behind bulletproof glass. the exhibit

        is a body itself, framed against

               sterile white, the lacquered plaque reads

please do not touch

exhibit: star-knife

in the room of the manufactured Sun,

the glass globe is not a cage

wealthy enough to hold its fire

and i can feel it reaching for me,

its flickering fingers—fire-heavy,

soft and serrated—pushing life 

like a knife past

any flesh it can, burrowing

its blade deep into bleached bone.

like a dog licking its wound, 

i have spit on the smoldering pit

it has left, sedentary smoke

silhouetting my body–

a dead star will bleed in the sky for centuries.


varicose veins,

               rivers running over rocks with the patience of penitentes

        pillars of ice, of blood, deoxidized.

i have stood still too long,

                      unable to take a body that does not feel like mine

               through ports i know, somewhere inside, would not ground me.

                             instead i stay, 

bury myself in the sun-slaughtered sand.

        when i scoop my hands through the bed,

                      all that runs over 

        my arms are spiders.

exhibit: eyes, or seeds

like bloody tears, the windows

                                           are fogged–red condensed 

               between the panes. my eyes lie

                             through black floaters and sunspots

        it cannot believe the gospel 

                      any mirror preaches–

                                           i’ve lived most comfortably inside

               the walls of a funhouse. i’ve hidden

                                    the images of wealth, of love,

                      of care for a body i can only call mine,

                                                  i carry its weight in my sight

               but have never been strong enough

                                    to make it up these Sisyphusian hillsides.

i’ve cried more fluids than blood, kept tears

                                    in jars to water the plants

fated to die over and over again 

                                                  in whatever cruel game i’ve created

                      as their god. my eyes buried 

                                                  in pockets of dry soil, lowlight,


exit: gift shop

the body as 

        child’s drawing–the torso, a perfect

        circle, hollow dots for eyes–

        hanging by a magnet on a fridge.


        nesting doll, _____ within _____

        the pieces are picked apart

        the core containing nothing but itself


        overpriced coffee,

        dripping from jittery, 

        bloody-nailed fingers


        a bound book of bruises

        presenting the history

        of its brutalism


        automatic sliding doors, broken,

        left open, the draft either grating

        or a welcome touch, an offering

        into the jealous warmth of the sun.



Andrew Walker lives in Denver, Colorado. You can find him on Twitter @adwalker1994