Two Poems by Zachary Kluckman, the Founder of MindWell Poetry




sitting hunched over

the shipwreck of your sternum

churning breath from burning lungs


                        searching for survivors in the blood


all the little birds beneath the wrist


                                                                        a pulse


                        a pulse


a black bird


            perched on every rib

tearing the flesh from your chest

with bone sharpened beaks and tongues

cut from razor-wire fence


                                                                        depression is


            an abusive relationship you have with your skin


sitting cross-legged in the dark

a mattress tossed on dirty floors

rocking and whispering


                                    prayers to a god you don’t believe in


            to any god who will listen








something I am                                   working on


                                    asking for


the side effects of a life lived alone / when you steal your own tongue / seal it in a jar /

send it / home / with the child you might have been / if not for its weight / if you had



who lives in your head                                   six months a year

                                                who listened


without changing their name / fact / when you sew your tongue / to the roof of your

mouth / with your own lips / to avoid / goodbye / you become someone new every

day / someone who forgets how to say –


watch your mouth                               wilt like a flower

                                    when it hurts


How many serpents of razorblade / can you hold / in your throat / before the words

/ cut themselves / loose / how many nights / did I pillow my face / with the forgetful

-ness of breath / scream my suicide into cotton / while writing / this poem


exists                                                   means

                        I must have made it


must have washed / thunder from my clothes / the rain from my blood / until the sky /

like a champagne flute / shattered its dying rose / through the letters in my name /

how it aches to pick yourself / from a lineup / in the closet / every morning


if you stand                                         in your own shadow

                                    long enough


you learn to speak/ those three little words / I’m not ok / to mean / becoming

comfortable with your own birth / sets graveyards on fire / a thousand tombs violent

rocking / how the trees applaud


how a child                                                     with your familiar face

                        stares from your mirror


returns your voice / as your bones release / their butterflies

About the contributor

Zachery Kluckman
National Poetry Awards 2014 Slam Artist of the Year, Kluckman is a Gold Medal Poetry Awards Teacher and a founding organizer of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change program. He has two collections, tours as a spoken word artist, and was recently invited to Kenya's Kistrech Poetry Festival.

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