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Suzanne Lummis: a poem

The Horrible Hand

- for Lawrence Raab

wakes up in a bad mood, hung over, strung out, just

horrible. You've heard of hard cases who crawl

out of bed? That's what The Hand does

then positions its splayed, wrecked, sense

of itself before its deepest possession: a hand

mirror. (The rest of the estate? Leather glove,

gold ring, three pens, a yo-yo, a cheap gun.)

Again the glass reflects a lone, fingered thing

cut off from its other, its mirror image. Now,

off to work it goes, but unlike the small cheery

Seven who shouldered their tools, The Hand

makes no song in its low progress over the floor –

just the scribbling of unbit nails, whisper of knuckle

and flesh. In some other world Splendid Hand

claps the palm of its brother at a Broadway debut,

and Elegant cradles a glass of blown crystal twinkling

with Dom Perrignon, but Horrible must earn its week's

rent climbing the torsos of B-movie actors, straining

towards the throat – forever to navigate the Has-Been

or Never-Been, or the Never-To-Be. The director's

"Cut!" startles The Hand. (It has no mouth to feed,

but sometimes, under the low, flinching wattage

of a kitchen bulb, it finds itself chopping

a poor man's one pot meal.) Released from the set

it goes home by public transportation, clinging

all the way to the overhead railing, orphan

on the row of bodied hands. At night it climbs towards

sleep, just beyond reach. It cannot think yet it grasps

the wrongness of everything. Poor Horrible Hand!

It can't even shoot itself in the head.

See? Now it curls on the windowsill, in love

with the full moon. She Thing. Face Belonging

to No Body.

Suzanne Lummis was a 2018/19 COLA (City of Los Angeles) fellow, an endowment from the Cultural Affairs Department that enables the city's influential mid-career artists and writers to create new bodies of work. Her most recent collection is Open 24 Hours from Lynx House Press, and her poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Hotel Amerika, Plume, The New Yorker and in the Knopf anthologies Poems of the American West and Killer Verse: Poetry of Murder and Mayhem. produces her YouTube Series "They Write by Night" which looks at film noir and poets influenced by those black and white crime movies. As host of the series, she plays a character she describes as "Two thirds me and one third the person I was meant to be".


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