An illustration of Lake Titicaca, in Bolivia‘Let It Bleed’ and Other Poetry by Johnny Payne The Society January 16, 2022 Beauty, Poetry 3 Comments . Let It Bleed My family believes a puzzle piece is missing, that it’s me and if they snap it in, the family will have peace. The picture will be whole. They’ll close a gap. But as I stand outside, I see no space to fit me in. The edges have gone smooth where there were lines, effaced into a place I visit, but its presence doesn’t soothe the sense of absence, or the phantom limb they scratch when vanished live flesh tingles while they touch, and say “This leg was him whose sudden loss now stings our fingertips.” That puzzle is one that still puzzles me. And looking on, I learn that I’m not free. . . Birds of Fire We swam Lake Titicaca. Our skin burned. The water’s icy waves slapped at my face as we gasped, laughing at how quick we’d turned the inhospitable into a place of sudden joy, where pintails sleeked their wings. Terns and grebes dived, heedless of the cold, plumed bodies fired by purpose, thoughtful things resistant unlike us, who were just bold. Bronchitis left us shivering in a bed of casual friends whose pity kept us on yet rued our cocky, foolish youth that led us to mistake danger for holy fun. Yet in those seconds while our bodies burned Our purpose was no different from the tern’s. . . Johnny Payne is a native Kentuckian. He directs the MFA in Creative Writing at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles. His books of published poetry are Heaven of Ashes and Vassal. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 3 Responses Paul Freeman January 16, 2022 Two poems about being different that intrigue, entertain and are edgily enigmatic in places. Thanks for the reads, Johnny. Reply Johnny Payne January 18, 2022 Thank you, Paul. I am happy that the edge and intrigue are palpable, yet a slight mystery. Reply jd January 17, 2022 Enjoyed both. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.