First Lessons on a Whore’s Mouth Harp

Andrea Null Click to

Andrea Null, a West Virginia Native, recently graduated from Washington and Lee University, where she received George A. Mahan Awards for both her poetry and fiction, the Elizabeth B. Garrett Prize in English and a Robert E. Lee Research Scholarship for Political Philosophy.  She teaches English at a north Georgia boarding school and waitresses in West Virginia in the summertime.  These poems, along with work in the fall Oxford American, are her first publications.  Andrea would like to dedicate these works to the memory of her late mentor, Irene McKinney.

The best still play all tongue, and most with old
love letters and lungs. But sinners choose to kiss
all tooth and grind that steel as pelvic bone,
or bit, or even burden. Coo arrives
less like a doe’s wet cry, and more the harpy
machinations of the whimper of paper. Know now, most
audiences prefer the animal
to elected words. They want to hear you sob.
A name should help—Job, Job, Job–to arouse
ex nihlio. Let feigned clipped wing
seduce the false peregrine. And wretch
what poisons you down those peeling gullets,
ingest nothing, nothing’s in jest, not even
breath.  But bear in mind: this is no balloon,
child, but fire you must conjure from wet wood.


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