Poetry: Self-Portrait as Personal Statement by Austin Tucker

“I wanted to become brutish,” Austin Tucker’s speaker says, and in today’s chaotic reality, who is above disagreeing? Who is above, “Self-Portrait as a Personal Statement” seems to ask, reattaching themselves to life by whatever means necessary?


Self-Portrait as Personal Statement

I was a disgraced glass. I was heat-warped records.
++++++I was considering the future

without considering form. I was quietly listening
++++++to Hell Songs and letting it shade

the lost movie plot of my life. I was denying the space between
++++++tautology, whatever that means.

Whatever that means, I kept coming to a locked door
++++++and listening through the wood,

listening for signs of life not suspended
++++++from the back by hooks, and irresistable.

In my defense, I had been drinking
++++++to kill the time between plot points.

In my defense, the man tried to enter me
++++++so I cut his jaw with a nail file

I kept next to my bed and he tried
++++++to add me on Facebook two days later.

You’d make a good dom, he wrote,
++++++the perfect kind of pissy.

I vowed to never let anyone hold me
++++++hostage for my body’s state secrets.

I was living off of stolen pizza. I was living with
++++++friends and beer and our last twelve dollars.

I was telling our stories so I could pretend
++++++I was not ashamed of them:

I was teasing the idea of becoming brutish
++++++and then I was brutish:

it was easier that way. Let me say this
++++++once and for all: I was brutish because

I wanted to become brutish,
++++++wanted to find something

that didn’t feel so shameful,
++++++something that would take me back

before my body became a body
++++++that I didn’t—couldn’t—ask for.

Instead: summer. Cacti yielding to my mouth’s
++++++tiny brush fires, and pricking back again.

An unwashed lock of hair emerges
++++++from my throat, anonymous and knotting.

Every night, a dream of one last drive
++++++down a long road’s slit meridian.



Austin Tucker

Austin Tucker is a 27-year-old poet living in Philadelphia. He was a semi-finalist for the 2018 Halifax ranch prize, long-listed for the 2019 Disquiet International Literary Contest, and received his MFA from Rutgers-Camden in 2019. His poetry has appeared in The Orange Coast Review and Four Chambers. He spends most of his time debating whether or not it's too late to make coffee and riding public transportation.

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