Poem of the Week | May 28, 2018

This week, we are excited to present a new poem by Amie Whittemore. Whittemore is the author of the poetry collection Glass Harvest (Autumn House Press) and co-founder of the Charlottesville Reading Series in Virginia. Her poems have won multiple awards, including a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, and have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Sycamore Review, Smartish Pace, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She teaches English at Middle Tennessee State University.

Whittemore was a finalist for the Missouri Review‘s 2017 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize.

XI. Laughter, Hiccups & Yawning

These three feed joy, refusing denial.
Tight as fists in your lover’s throat before
their lavish ruckus—laughter’s clacking shells,
hiccups’ fraught waves, yawns and their long beaches.
They clamor to infest you as only
seashores can, all salt-spritz and froth-fizz,
bubbling in larynx, diaphragm, and lungs.
The finest cure to this trio requires
a lip duet: impossible to laugh
amid a kiss. Even hiccups won’t out-
live a make-out session. Swallowed yawns turn
the mind from sleep to succor: sex quiets
these three—and more. Taxes? Forgotten. Thirst?
Gone. Even the self is brightly sprung.

Author’s Note:

As a poet and writer, I’ve had to take my share of odd jobs to support my craft. One of these gigs included writing copy for an STI Q&A website. After reading some disturbing questions that point to our nation’s need for better sex education, and learning more about STIs than I ever hoped, a few friends suggested that I write poems based on my research.

This challenge resulted in a crown of sonnets entitled “Infectious Crown,” with each sonnet exploring a different STI. However, I decided to expand the definition of sexually transmitted infections to include abstractions like monogamy, regret, and, as this sonnet suggests, “Laughter, Hiccups & Yawning.”

Finally, I’ll leave you with the most important things I learned in conducting STI research: get tested. Talk to your partners. And remember, that I, a poet, with no medical background, might be crafting the health advice you find on some random website. While my work is based on reliable sources, please consult a medical professional instead.