“21st Century Autoimmune Blues” by Brent Terry

Brent Terry


Even the flowers are trying to kill you.
Even the bread. Even the cells in your nails
conspire to drag your hands to your neck, enwrap
and enrapture your song-encrusted throat.
Your fingers make palpable the shadow
that seethes beyond the Earth’s voracious curve,
play the blues that stipple the tender flesh.
It’s a brand new year and histamines are all the rage.
Corticosteroids are the new black.
You’ve become allergic to yourself. It’s body
vs. antibody, that same tired tango,
and it’s way too late for dancing. Your twisted mister
blinks back from the bathroom mirror,
doesn’t bother to floss. Your future is encrypted
in the walls of your bone-vault, you bury your feelings
but have to admit that things are getting grave.
Whispers pass over your body like hands.
The tossed postures of your everyday
play shadowpuppets on the kitchen wall—Punch
and Judy headlining the Armageddon room.
So you spend what’s left of your youth laughing
until you cry. Your eyes itch. It’s just your body
trying to kill you to save you from yourself.
You’re caught between a rock and a hardly place.
You’re going to name your new band
Systemic Inflammatory Response. Your first album:
What’s been eating you lately?
Maybe it’s tick-borne. Maybe a fungus. Maybe
you’re a character in a DeLillo novel. Your affliction
is so postmodern. You’re so meta it’s killing you.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts

[download audio]


Brent Terry: “The frustrations, both financial and professional, of being an adjunct have been widely discussed, if not seriously addressed, in the media over the past couple of years, and trust me, I feel those frustrations acutely, though I must say that as adjuncting goes, Eastern Connecticut State University and its English department do their best to assuage these frustrations. Just as an oyster needs the irritant provided by a grain of sand to make a pearl, sometimes a lack of comfort or respect can be the irritant an artist needs to produce important work. Surely being ignored by the academic establishment can both generate an affirming anger and reinforce the notion that the work itself is the important thing. This is certainly true in my case.”

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