Rock River Poetry Contest state winner

Rock River Poetry Contest state winner


This week, the Rock River Poetry Contest presents the

Illinois state winner, Allison Joseph of Carbondale.

At Seventeen I Learned the Truth

Once I was parchment-thin, vellum-slender,

bones sharp as razors slicing soap.

Sandpaper skin, truculent armpits, tarpaper breath,

I tried to tame them with Avon creams, Love’s

Baby Soft perfume, Certs stinging my tongue sweet.

But self-beautification wasn’t easy in the Bronx;

I wasn’t the Brooke Shields of Screvin Avenue.

Actually, I was fat, no teenaged hottie,

flab making me school’s smartest girl.

Shake, shake, shake, shake your booty—

the constant drip of disco music weighed

on me, heavy as a cut, stoppered.

I couldn’t dance then, but could fly,

but only when Allie let herself forget her weight.

I will rise in language, sing my caustic song.

Fat self and thin self will merge.

Mama said una boca grande would be

the death of me, the frown of fake designer

jeans tight across my knobby knees, chubby thighs.

—Allison Joseph

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