Rumpus Original Poetry: 3 Poems by Katie Farris





An Unexpected Turn of Events Midway through Chemotherapy

I’d like some sex please.
I’m not too picky—
                                 (after all, have you seen me?
                                 so skinny you could 
                                 shiv me with me?)
Philosexical, soft and
Gentle, a real
Straight fucking, rhymed
Or metrical—whatever
You’ve got, I’ll take it.
Just so long as we’re naked.


Scheduling the Bone Scan

The word “bone” tolls in your ear,
a bell. What tolls? The word, the bone?

The drum in your ear moves the hammer
like a lever, a bone moves
the word “bone” through your ear.

You repeat “bone,” your voice droning—
not silver: bronze. A duller thud.
Nothing ringing—instead, a buzz—
the devouring sound—the insect, time.


After the Mastectomy

At the oncologist’s office, a man stares. I stare back 
until he says, “People must stare at you.”

Why bother closing a door
when everyone demands it open?

I go to the world with my tongue out
and my shirt unbuttoned, my keys 

in the lock,
a six-inch scar instead of a nipple—

how can a watchtower hide?
I am well-positioned to seek out

fires and invading hoards—
my bald head the beacon the first


Author photo courtesy of author

Katie Farris’s work appears in American Poetry Review, Granta, The Nation, and Poetry, and has been commissioned by MoMA. Her first book of poems, Standing in the Forest of Being Alive, is forthcoming from Alice James Books (US) and Liverpool University Press (UK) in 2023. She is also the author of the chapbook A Net to Catch My Body in its Weaving, which won the 2020 Chad Walsh Poetry Award from Beloit Poetry Journal, and boysgirls, a hybrid-form book, as well as co-translator of many books of poetry. Her work has been published in Best New Poets, and she has won several awards, including a Pushcart Prize. She teaches at Princeton University. More from this author →