Ars Poetica from My Grandparents’ Dinner Table || Tyler Hurula

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[Editor's Choice]

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Ars Poetica from My Grandparents’ Dinner Table

Different men, or sometimes even the polite 

suggestion of a woman prop, pop 

up on the TV screen to tell me I should not 

exist. This is the white 

noise, static—

electricity powering the ivory shroud 

of my grandparents’ resentment. 

Grandma douses herself each morning 

with a perfume of passive aggression. 

The sharp scent sours her face 

at the dinner table as she recounts 

the minor offenses I’ve committed 

after inspecting my bedroom—dissecting 

the way I throw my clothes on the floor 

or leave home with an unmade bed. Proof 

of an unwelcome existence, 

but without a room in her house she doesn’t know 

where I might exist, and this is a moral 

dilemma. The way Grandpa rolls his eyes 

is more like opening smooth surfaces to a wider 

view before blinking hard with a violent 

shake of his face, jowling me out of existence. 

Grimace a shame-weapon tugging needle sharp 

stitches through the thick gristle of my paling 

pink lips. He sneers at my sister 

when she asks for ketchup on her steak. 

Says she might as well lick it off the floor, 

tongue dusted rare. I pry apart 

the threads leaving jagged ruby rips

through loose lips. They glare at me, startled 

static as blood inks into wood grains. 

My knuckles wrap around a serrated knife 

biting into hushed skin and I carve 

couplets into the table, narrate 

my existence—myself as witness until the tip 

breaks so I scratch myself palpable. Claw 

my story into stanzas, nails chipping. 

A fervent display frenzied

as I climb onto the table, hunched 

over and scribbling until it is covered. 


I meet their eyes when I look up, 

dagger-toothed grin 


thick crimson.

Tyler Hurula (she/they) is the pinkest poet and explorer based in Denver, Colorado. She strives to be the most queer and polyamorous person they can be and much of her poetry reflects these themes. Author of chapbook Love Me Louder (Querencia Press). Their poems can be found in publications including Anti-Heroin Chic, South Broadway Press, Boats Against the Current, Gnashing Teeth Publishing, and more. They have been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. She is an editor and events coordinator with Beyond the Veil Press. You can find her on Instagram @theprettypinkpoet.


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