A Poem by Carrie Oeding

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

Ways to Keep Self-Portraiting

I assembled a me from them, I assembled a you.
We know all the lines. I’ve drawn the negative space around each one.

I can’t draw myself because I can’t fit on the paper.

Someone said I look like Kiefer Sutherland and all of the Midwestern plains. Nobody can decide where the Midwest ends.

But what is the line for you are not alone, not at all said like we’ve said it before?

Like when we’re just saying anything instead of just saying anything.

I am an artist who has drawn every inch of herself except for what she looks like.

One day we will not know Kiefer Sutherland! My portraits will just evoke chipmunk cheeks. You say only chipmunk cheeks will remain. As chipmunk cheeks!

I have made nothing but what’s identifiable.

I made a mold of myself and cast several me’s. In soap, in disco balls, in a chessboard set. I poured in the entire state of Iowa, which you point out is clearly Midwestern.

I meet myself in cheese, and just want crackers.

Are you sure you want to eat that?

I have taken that line. I have collected all the tones —

Nice haircut. I mean, nice try.
That’s something different. I’ve seen it before.
You look like I used to, like when I was staying indoors.
It was a tremendous time! Those pants should go nowhere.

How would you make a sculpture out of Tell me something I don’t know?

The line you say as saying something still unsaid —

What kind of portrait would look like that?

I’d like to make a self-portrait you’d prefer.

A breaking bust,

something you can keep pushing off the pedestal display?

Self portrait as It once had a striking resemblance! It once had a striking resemblance! It once had a striking resemblance!

Carrie Oeding’s first book of poems is Our List of Solutions. Her work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Third Coast, Best New Poets, PBS News Hour’s Art Beat, and elsewhere. She is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Marshall University in Huntington, WV.

You will find more poems here. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.