I’m excited to share and feature 4 poems by Jordan Pace. You may know him by his Twitter or his new book Perfectly Imperfect. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jordan as a fellow author in the Writing Community and through Coffee House Writers. I love these poems, and found myself paying special attention to A Serpent’s Kiss as I broke down the complete experiences described. That said, I’m going to save my personal interpretation of each poem and what I took away from it until after. Without further ado, let’s begin.
We sat side by side
It felt as if we were miles apart.
Our cups dangled
With our feet;
We watched as waves crashed against walls.
We talked for hours,
Our words felt like whispers
Was he hiding something?
I couldn’t tell
The breeze so strong
The faint smell of salt air
Losing my reason to care
I leaned forward, my full intention to fall
He caught me, his cup staring with an inviting glare
I arrived at it,
A feeling of curiosity washing over me
Why does his coffee have no flavor?
I look back again
When did this space get so empty?
Who was I talking to all this time?
The waterside imagery steals me away and I, too, am sitting on that retaining wall, feeling detached from the person I am with – wondering if I knew them this whole time. The metaphor of time and conversation to waves eroding the relationship and details of the scene overtime hits me in a soft underbelly place I haven’t thought about in a while.
I am fine,
a war rages on the other side.
there are cracks in my armor,
No perfect men wear armor.
a variable I cannot account for.
Your slithering, salty, sinking words burrow into me,
like a bullet lodged in a dead man’s chest
A bullet Cannot be pulled out without care.
I keep it there.
Holding fast to what remains of you,
unaware of its effects.
I see you in places you did not exist, a bad dream fades into reality.
As I lay on the bed,
there is nothing left to say.
I knew the risk and how it would end.
You watch over me, a serpent’s gaze.
Has the poison taken effect?
The narrator first begins with a self assessment – he is an imperfect man: a perfect man would need no armor. Worse yet, his armor has cracks that left him vulnerable to abuse in this mind trick of self blame.
As the narrator continues to describe this ex-abuser as a venomous snake, it becomes obvious how appropriate the comparison is. Some relationships are toxic like venom, leaving lasting wounds in the form of trauma. He is holding it both intentionally and against his will.
But the narrator in the poem suffers the lasting effects of the relationship even if everything seems quiet on the surface. The lasting trauma is described as a “bullet lodged in a dead man’s chest” implying the depth of despair and destruction felt surrounding the trauma.
The last 3 lines may be the most impacting. “I knew the risk and how it would end.” The narrator describes the gut feeling paired with the inability to resist the relationship. It could be argued that with the comparison of the ex to a serpent, the narrator was hypnotized. “You watch over me, a serpent’s gaze.” The last line closes the poem with the hardest question of all – that of intent. “Has the poison taken effect?” Did the abuser intend this all along? Is this what they wanted?
baby, I’m tired, your hips swing with energy to light my world for eons. Excuse my language,
But I think you’re a dime,
a definite “jack of all trades” when it comes to working
Excuse me for entering your life,
Then exiting, by mistake
Apologetically, there are short lived relationships that can feel bought or traded. The narrator then mentions leaving unintentionally, apologetically, even though there is nothing wrong with the other party. There are many layers of guilt here.
I WAS CREATED TO BE YOU
You cannot relate
to my pain-
molded by fires, created
through some ultimate desire.
I was left to fill your desires
and when it did not work,
I was told to simply
“get over it.” My world
is torn asunder; my life
Years of work and effort made
to seem like less than
the step forward it truly was.
All because it didn’t work
for you? Was I never considered
in your equation? Was I even ever
Lots of these things,
I will never, ever know,
but one thing’s for sure:
I may have to spend the rest
of my life defining myself.
To me, this poem screams of the struggles of the effects of a narcissistic relationship. I interpreted this as a parent-child relationship and what I call “bonsai children”. Bonsai children grow up with parents who carefully shape and mold every aspect of their lives so they are more like ornaments to benefit the parent more than individuals.
About Jordan Pace
Jordan Pace’s book Perfectly Imperfect is available for purchase here in paperback and on kindle. You can keep up with their writing on Coffee House Writers here. To keep most up to date, you can follow them on Twitter.
What did you think of these interpretations? Do you agree? Disagree? Did you find different meaning that I didn’t find? Let me know in the comments! Do you want to see more of these posts? Let me know by liking this post or commenting below.
As always, thank you for reading. Remember to keep supporting artists and authors during these crazy times.