Valerie Loveland


It is not an exquisite corpse
unless everyone is offended by the previous person's line.
Unless the person immediately before and after you
are your enemies.

You wish you could reverse the corpse's order
and get revenge.

Everyone jokes
the reason its called an exquisite corpse
is because someone gets murdered by the end.
Nobody laughs.

Insults and secrets hide in the paper's accordion folds.
I began inserting needles, poisonous cupcakes,
set jaw traps in the pleats.

"Enjoy the dynamite, Bastards!" hisses the poet three people away from me.
She waves out a match while she passes the poem
to the glaring person next to her.
The room is always foggy with smoke.

The host uses the corpse as a paper fan--a stalling technique
before reading the resulting poem
and the fist fight breaks out.

I heard they do exquisite corpses online.
How can you write without looking into the eyes
of your enemy? How can you write
on something that you can't burn?

Valerie Loveland is the author of Reanimated, Somehow (Scrambler Books, 2009). Her poetry has been featured in Dzanc Book's Best of the Web 2008 and the Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

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