Ode to a Scar

by | Dec 4, 2012 | Poetry

Oh long flattened eel

Down my belly,

Before you I was nothing.

You are the one glistening art.

You are the great threaded lines

Sutured up and true.

Yes, you showed me how to call out

And know my voice.


I call out like a dying lion.

I bleed like a sacrificed lamb.

I lie down with both

And hear my voice

Cry out,

And it is my only poem,

Scar that opened me up down the whole belly,

That halved me in two,

Letting the last ghost of who I was

Rise into the air.


Scar of Andromeda,

Twelve nails hammered into my mind,

Twisted, sewn, and tied down

Like the fangs of a snake

To sink into my awaking,

Perfunctory lines driven to spirit,

For love or hate or forgiveness,

The poem crying out,

I am alive,

Scream of the licking flame,

I welcome you now holy scar,

And give myself wholly to you

Each lashed out syllable of who I am,

Tower of faith, ladder of flesh,

Beyond all that I can say or hear or see.






Photo by Milo Tobin

About The Author

Peter Bethanis

Peter Bethanis’s poems, essays, and stories have appeared in Poetry, Tar River Poetry, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, River Review, Country Journal, and the Indianapolis Star among others.  In 1995 he was selected by James Dickey as winner of the Eve of St. Agnes Poetry Prize.  His poems “American Future” and “Li Hua’s Messenger” have been selected as featured poems on Poetry Magazine’s website.  He has been a finalist in the New Issues Poetry Prize and the National Poetry Series.  His poems have been anthologized in several collections including The Hecht Poetry Anthology and the Mellon Poetry Anthology.  He is the author of two books, Dada and Surrealism for Beginners from Random House and American Future, a collection of poems, from Entasis Press.  He has taught at several universities and is currently a professor in the writing program at Ball State where he has taught for fifteen years.