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Poem of the week: Drunken Bellarmine by Emily Berry


Seething with contradictory impulses and emotions, this character study is also full of life and wit

Drunken Bellarmine
after Renee So

In this spirit of affliction I beheld two things,
that shame is also revelry, and a body
is a spillage, or an addiction. I do not know
if this thing belongs to me, tipped-up set of weights
that promises, but never delivers, equilibrium.
I cannot make manifest this collection of feelings,
but look at me: I want to be loved for the wrong reasons.
I mean I want to be hated for the right reasons.
I have been lonely. Every time I say the word ‘I’
I am ashamed. When I say ‘I want’ I am triply
ashamed. I want my shame to be a kind of proof
that deduces the world, and that’s the worst
shame of all. I have been theatrical, entropic,
parting with myself for company. This heartsore
will not stop weeping and look, the sky is sick,
knitted too tightly; my face is up your sleeve
like a card trick. DON’T LOVE ME: I am guilty,
fatalistic and sticky round the mouth like a dirty baby.
I am a shitting, leaking, bloody clump of cells,
raw, murky and fluorescent, you couldn’t take it.

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