Teenage Tinman

Teenage Tinman

With one sharp word, you can chop off my arm.
With another, you can remove my heart,
but I will be covered up bit by bit:
Chromium steel, iron, and tin alloys.
Make it work! Quick!
Before they see!
Nothing can show!
Each step down the center of a hallway
full of perfect, towering boyfriends and
their doe-eyed Dorothys –
wizards of flaws –
they hide behind curtains, control masses;
each sneer and every whispered, hushed glance
chops off one more of my targeted limbs.
“You’ll be stronger than before,” they tell me
as I rebuild, reconstruct, replace, and
add even more to my now heavy frame.
Plate by plate, locked into place,
but no one knows,
no one sees what these hands have created
as they fasten my formidable gloves…
“Protect yourself, see?” they advise again
as my borrowed eyes look down, observing
a body I no longer recognize:
bolted feet lead to
soldered legs, lead to
fused eyes and brain and face,
lead to mechanical heart, valves, and veins.
A smile hidden by a glowing screen;
thoughts silenced by rage words I haven’t said;
digital emotions that blink and buzz;
and careful clothing I was told I liked.
There’s no blood moving through these coarse tubes.
Alterations improve, but nothing stays;
I am metal, but there’s no glint, no shine;
I am dinged, dented, rusted over, piecemeal,
and no amount of oil can unstick me.

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Secrets

Secrets

Jessica sits like she always does:
Criss cross legs and slumped to the left
Oh, John! she giggles.
You can’t tell anyone!
And I nod conspiratorially;
I listen.
I hear about the boy she kissed,
And how she felt like the movies.
Our secret… she says
Well, hers and the boy and me I guess.
And we giggle.
She playfully punches my shoulder,
And we move on.
We plan for Friday night;
Pledge our hatred of Mrs. Benson;
And after she asks me for the thousandth time
What it’s like in the boys’ locker room,
I think this is a good time
To mention that I’m in love
With Sam Collins,
And I want to kiss him
Like she kissed that other boy,
And I want to hold his hand,
But she never even asked me
if I had any secrets to share.