By Matty Layne Glasgow
Trigger Warning for Self-Harm
when he took an arrow through his palm
& ran with Sherwood splintered in his hand.
I pined: for his will, for that drip of scarlet
from his fingers to the forest floor, the sharp pain
of medieval steel & his merrie men ragtag swag.
Maybe it was the patchwork of his pants, too.
How that black fishnet overlay came so close to
the stockings I’d slip on some day, that I’d palm
on stage in drag with that better tip your fag swag.
How decades before I took the razor in my hand
& carved my hairless child cheek. I fell for pain—
the soothing sting of the blade, the taste of scarlet
on my tongue. I was four & beginning my Will Scarlet
ways, cutting across our lawn in Oxshott with two
kitchen knives in my hands—an American pain
in the ass for the neighbors. I felt my father’s palm
smacking sense on my nether cheeks ’til I got a handle
on my keenness for living on a razor’s edge & assuaged
him. I lost my British accent, my ’lil Londoner swagger
to a Texas drawl & a Middle Age bravado. My scarlet-
flushed cheeks, my fragile voice, my limp-wristed hand—
all raised suspicion of my nature. But I had Christian to
believe in, how he’d brush his bangs back with his palm
& reveal his widow’s peaked brow. My want pained
me—each gay & faggot—a fist full of rage through a pane
of glass. How I picked up one of the shards, let is sway
back and forth in my hand before I clenched it in my palm,
to feel the sharp sting of shame & that slow-flow of scarlet.
How my arm became that lawn that I still ran & cut across to
feel the blades & a slow-dried trail of pain by my own hand.
I always found comfort in sharp shiny things handled
with care, with a zeal for medieval steel & more pain.
Because when I fell for Christian Slater, I began to
fall into everything, into my own sharp Will Scarlet swag,
into my own skin. Now, my fingertips trace each scar. Let
them follow the rigid flesh like the ridges of my palms
& remember when my will was too strong, how my scarlet
never stayed where it belonged. I shake & my palms sway
still holding my want & pain & all of Sherwood in my hand
Matty Layne Glasgow is a poet and MFA candidate at Iowa State University where he served as the Poetry Editor for Flyway. Matty’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Missouri Review, BOAAT, Muzzle Magazine, The Collagist, Underblong, and elsewhere. He is a runner-up for The Missouri Review's 2017 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize and was awarded 3rd Place in Frontier Poetry's Award for New Poet's by Tyehimba Jess. He currently reads poetry for The Adroit Journal.