The Honorable Scar

There’s honor to the scar,
this jagged ridge of my survival.
Sure it was a dumb adventure with a knife
that did it.
But people don’t know that.
And the years can keep a secret.
There’s a mark on the back of my hand
where I caught the blade of the thief
when riding rescue to some woman’s handbag.
It’s a souvenir from a skiing accident
down the steepest slope in Vermont.
Or I was sliced by thick jungle creepers
in the depths of Costa Rica
or fought ten rounds in a Brooklyn gym
and you should have seen the other guy.
There are times when all I have
to prove myself with is skin
so why shouldn’t it stretch the truth a little.
I’d rush in if a woman was threatened.
I could match wits with that treacherous downhill.
Jungles, middleweights.. . they’re safe
because I’ve never had the opportunity.
But I did try to peel a potato once.
An honorable man has to start somewhere.

* * * * *

John Grey is an Australian born poet who works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Poem, Caveat Lector, Prism International and the horror anthology, “What Fears Become”, he has work upcoming in Potomac Review, Hurricane Review and Pinyon. His other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

The Bride Gets Ready for the Christmas Party

She looks in the mirror, pensive,
counts the scars;
the railroad ripple of stomach staples,
the long-term illnesses of others,
the remains of various gouges “just to check”,
the funerals.
The ruching of that therapeutic throat-slitting.
The tattoos of her losses.

The toxic residue of teen years is old paint on her cheeks;
there are frustrations old and new on her forehead.

If you begin the removal
of all the things
that don’t measure up,
she thinks,
begin the removal
of all the things
not perfect enough,
eventually,
all that is left
is the soul–
the perfectible soul.
And even that
will not, cannot,
be perfect here.

While you’re wearing skin, she thinks,
every little thing leaves its mark.
That road map is you, honey.
Anyone worth knowing knows that.

She covers the scars society demands she hide,
and goes to celebrate
hope —
her mouth rouged, just for a moment,
perfect red.

* * * * *

Lydia Ondrusek’s other posts at Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.