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Deborah Saltman Poetry

The Tenth Nerve v1

by Deborah Saltman



Three nerves control my eyes
My pupils shrink
In the lightness of your skin
And grow in the darkness of our nites
Take a look if you dare
No need to question the colour of my eyes
They are filled with the calling cards of the seasons
Or does the blue-eyed octopus want to hide behind her ink?

One nerve relays the soupçon of smells
That cross the tendrils of my trunk
Still it is the magnolia that moans a scent
As ephemeral as its Messenger Hermes
Five nerves form the movement of my lips, tongue, words
Yet only one controls the index finger
That types to you

Is that not risky?

But is the vague Vagus – the perfect ten
That can move the four chambers
To heartstop
And now sits behind the drawbridges
We helped each other raise

There are only twelve nerves in the cranium
The last two can make my shoulders shrug
And help me swallow pain

That is why I want to stop at ten


Stop and search


Stop and search my emotions
I gave you reasonable grounds to explore my interior
Do not suspect my engaging in the crime of love or even liking you
Place your hard metal heart against my scarred chest
Hood my lips, cuff my arms, restrain my legs
My spittal is distinctive
You will taste the perfumed bile for centuries

I’m grateful

Wherever you go
My mistress of the inquisition
Will you always remember
Searching the bag of my body
Never asking for my consent
Travelling eternally and internally
On the passport you renewed
After I ran out of time

Handcuffs, leg restraints, batons, pepper taints
Little more than glorified sacks, racks and nick knacks

After all she says
You doctors don’t apologise
When the short sharp needle
Filled with measles enters my buttocks.


The underground


After decades
I think I hear her familiar breathing again
That click of her rusty diaphragm
Wrestling under the diseased heart
Air always struggling to draw in and out
Beyond the cardiac space
No explorer would dare to enter
Or was it just
The conductor’s raspish call
Express stop to exit only?

Pretending to put on the lipstick I never wear
I took a selfie
Just to get a glance of her
There sitting behind me
In the disabled seat

I long for her caved chest to rise up and lay down
Next to me
Deep with laboured inhaling
The rhythm section of her tired ribcage freed
From our past hiccupping
Could we ever breathe the same air again?

My station calls
Now in the long corridor exit to fresh air
Walking over the top of her departing carriage
My tunnelled vision unfolds
If she was the one
I’m glad she didn’t look up





Deborah Saltman is a physician and re-emerging poet living across the hemispheres and the Atlantic currently enjoying her London landing. She has had 6 poems published in reviewed US publications in the last year (one in Poetica, one in Off the Coast, and four in BLAZEVOX. After twenty years of scientific writing, she is enjoying her return to her calling.





The Writing Disorder is a quarterly literary journal. We publish exceptional new works of fiction, poetry, nonfiction and art. We also feature interviews with writers and artists, as well as reviews.


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