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Poem of the week: Drunken Bellarmine by Emily Berry

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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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