Julie Sheehan

Winner of the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award in 2005

Hate Poem


I hate you truly. Truly I do.
Everything about me hates everything about you.
The flick of my wrist hates you.
The way I hold my pencil hates you.
The sound made by my tiniest bones were they trapped
     in the jaws of a moray eel hates you.
Each corpuscle singing in its capillary hates you.

Look out! Fore! I hate you.

The blue-green jewel of sock lint I'm digging
     from under my third toenail, left foot, hates you.
The history of this keychain hates you.
My sigh in the background as you explain relational databases
     hates you.
The goldfish of my genius hates you.
My aorta hates you. Also my ancestors.

A closed window is both a closed window and an obvious
     symbol of how I hate you.

My voice curt as a hairshirt: hate.
My hesitation when you invite me for a drive: hate.
My pleasant "good morning": hate.
You know how when I'm sleepy I nuzzle my head
     under your arm? Hate.
The whites of my target-eyes articulate hate. My wit
     practices it.
My breasts relaxing in their holster from morning
     to night hate you.
Layers of hate, a parfait.
Hours after our latest row, brandishing the sharp glee of hate,
I dissect you cell by cell, so that I might hate each one
     individually and at leisure.
My lungs, duplicitous twins, expand with the utter validity
      of my hate
          (which can never have enough of you)
Breathlessly, like two idealists in a broken submarine.
line

Sharon Olds on Julie Sheehan

Julie Sheehan's poems make my attention leap up. As if on its own, almost independent of me. Blood rushes to my brain as the work feeds me, and feeds in me a hunger for more of it.

Characters in addition to the speaker and the speaker's consciousness come alive, with no restraint but the passionate restraint of craft and sullen art. This is a voice embodying mind, language, music, heart, and history—several traditions gathered live from the air.

Originality, linguistic energy, moral verve—with the Robert Winner prize we salute the artistry with which Sheehan salutes the valor of Shaquina, Latisha, and Quanesha, in the Anti-Violence Project production (minus the love story—just the war story) of Romeo and Juliet. Here narrative furnishes occasion for experiment, and the Elizabethan and hip-hop tropes furnish a narrative which speaks as Bob Winner's poems speak—eloquently, to our present need and joy.

Go Back to Annual Awards Winners' Listing