Three Poems by Delvon Mattingly

Play Pen Prisoner

The prisoner, separated by a wall
of mesh, cried as he watched someone
crawl on all fours while seeping more than
tears from a traumatized face.

A larger man suppressed
traces of his morality, glancing at the pen
with a face etched in uncertainty
and rage; the same man who

demanded to be called dada,
who snuggled some nights
if he were not already drinking
or bellowing.

The prisoner,
webs of mesh snugged across his face,
was left dolorously shouting as dada
exhausted remnants of all innocence.


I despise staring at
your side of the bed;
thus, I precisely lie
in your former spot,
nearly in the fetal position,
just to gather every callous
memory from your eyes,
to find reason in why
you decided to leave
as I also wish to flee
forever from myself.


If our bodies were a chess board,
you would control the pawns,

each matted with color far beyond
every manufacturers’ touch.

You’re confined to dwarf movements
and one space per turn,

dancing in perpendicular patterns,
perfidy behind every decision,

as your apathy seeps into my knights,
rooks, and bishops. Queen and King.

Because how dare you submit to
playing with yourself.

Delvon T. Mattingly, who also goes by the name D.T. Mattingly, is a fiction writer and poet from Louisville, Kentucky. He is also a PhD student in epidemiology at the University of Michigan and currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more about his work on his website. He tweets here.

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