i jammed a piece of pencil lead into the skin over my heart

this is a true story
it never came out
the skin grew over it
and i am convinced that little freakin piece of lead is shuffling around inside of me still
it mostly squats in my skull
listening to bad 90’s music at three in the morning
reminding me how much life is a drag off a bummed cigarette
a piece of lead with a penchant for marcy playground and nada surf
when it’s not doing that it lodges itself into the joint of my knees
reminding me of my father
who sacrificed his knees to the insatiable gods of retail in return for warm meals

i like when the lead makes my knees sting a bit
sometimes the piece of lead goes to my liver
usually the weekends
it duct tapes my liver hostage and demands i waterboard him with whiskey unil he spills all his secrets
this piece of lead wreaks havoc in this vessel
little red cartoon demon with a pitchfork
sometimes he stands in front of my retinas
playing home movies of ex-girlfriends
stupid fights
sober drunken moments of pure cherished regret

in my nose he burns the incense of their perfumes
he meditates
and when he lodges himself in my heart i hate him most

he tugs at my heart strings like the ghost in the bell tower and i ring out everything everywhere all at once

i ring my mother’s chicken noodle soup
i ring my sister’s diamond soul
i ring my father’s fireplace hugs
i ring death waltzing with life
and the karma of martyred hearts

the cosmic kaleidoscope of america
i ring bad knees and good fridays and pilot episodes of life stories that rest in jars in doctor’s offices
i ring the towers falling down
and people without legs standing up

i ring the man whose job is to talk people out of suicides and i ring the times he fails
i ring for nothing – that lies between second hands stroking but i ring
everything everywhere for everyone ever all at once

sometimes the piece of lead travels to my pencil
but i just set the pencil down
don’t want to write him off just yet
this ghost in my belltower
i won’t let him out.



Author: brice maiurro

Denver poet. Author of Stupid Flowers, out now through Punch Drunk Press.


  1. clotildajamcracker, i’d like to thank you for you unwavering dedication to my poetry. liking every single one of my posts. it’s almost as if you’re just liking everything you can in hopes of getting more attention to your blog, but i know that’s not the case.

  2. Well, Not surprised about clotildajamcraker, I find it difficult to ring poetry this good without liking it

  3. I can see where the Bukowski influence comes in. Though I’m curious about “the ghost in the belltower.” Is that an allusion to something or did you come up with the phrase?

  4. This one is real. I’ll make that call here and now, with all the authority my few years can muster. This is real, this one sticks, this is like butter to bread, only butter that’s real and not slippery and fake like the margarine people use these days.

    I can flick quarters at this poem and they bounce back with the ring of metal on glass, or metal on brass, however you want to put it. It’s there, solid, and it warms me and chills me at the same time, saddens me and makes me happy, fills me up and empties me dry, all at once, contradictory, contrary and not. Like reality.

    Like life.

    Thank you for writing it. Thank you for sharing it.


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