“The End of Hurt Is Not Healing” by J.B. Penname

J.B. Penname


after Jamaica Baldwin

Whose bright idea was it to start tearing
out pages of poetry and wadding them up
to plug our wounds? The poems I like don’t
even come when you call them. As though
they’ve forgotten their masters, lost the sound
of their own names. They bear no antiseptics,
cannot cauterize you clean, but the way they
lick themselves is still good for a laugh. Is that
what I aspire to? Five years ago I nicked my finger
slicing a carrot. Five years and I can’t even watch my
father carve a turkey without getting second-hand
please-don’t-lose-your-goddamn-fingers syndrome.
But sure, when he’s done I can sit at the counter. In the
quiet of the kitchen, I can eat the turkey. Man what a turkey.

from Prompt Poem of the Month
November 2023


Prompt: Write a sonnet with the title “The End of _____ Is Not _____” after Jamaica Baldwin’s American sonnet, “The End of Sorrow Is Not Happiness.”

Note from the series editor, Katie Dozier: “As someone that has been plugging my wounds with poetry since childhood, I found the humor in J. B. Pename’s poem as refreshing as it is powerful. These fourteen lines have caused me to redefine what it is to heal. Man what a poem!”

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