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Hate Poem

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I hate you truly. Truly I do.
Everything about me hates everything about you.
The flick of my wrist hates you.
The way I hold my pencil hates you.
The sound made by my tiniest bones were they trapped in the jaws of a moray eel hates you.
Each corpuscle singing in its capillary hates you.

Look out! Fore! I hate you.

The little blue-green speck of sock lint I'm trying to dig from under my third toenail, left foot, hates you.
The history of this keychain hates you.
My sigh in the background as you pick out the cashews hates you.
The goldfish of my genius hates you.
My aorta hates you. Also my ancestors.

A closed window is both a closed window and an obvious symbol of how I hate you.

My voice curt as a hairshirt: hate.
My hesitation when you invite me for a drive: hate.
My pleasant "good morning": hate.
You know how when I'm sleepy I nuzzle my head under your arm? Hate.

The whites of my target-eyes articulate hate. My wit practices it.
My breasts relaxing in their holster from morning to night hate you.
Layers of hate, a parfait.
Hours after our latest row, brandishing the sharp glee of hate,
I dissect you cell by cell, so that I might hate each one individually and at leisure.
My lungs, duplicitous twins, expand with the utter validity of my hate, which can never have enough of you,
Breathlessly, like two idealists in a broken submarine.

Julie Sheehan, "Hate Poem" from Orient Point. Copyright © 2006 by Julie Sheehan. Used by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Source: Orient Point (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2006)
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Hate Poem

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  • Julie Sheehan was born and raised in Pierson, Iowa. She received a BA from Yale University and an MFA in poetry from Columbia University. She is the author of the poetry collections Thaw (2001); Orient Point (2006), which won the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Bar Book: Poems and Otherwise (2010).

    Sheehan’s poems often feature long lines similar to those of Walt Whitman, and she has cited Whitman as an influence in the past. She also writes in traditional forms, including the sonnet and ghazal. Poet Billy Collins has said of her work: “Julie Sheehan possesses a range of tones—tender, sassy, quietly observant, deeply cutting.” Sheehan’s range of subjects includes marriage, relationships, and the landscape of Orient Point, Long Island. The wild nature of things under the urban and cultivated world is treated in many poems, including “Coyotes in Greenwich!”
    In describing Orient Point, Sheehan commented:...

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