Jessica Mehta

My mother told me I was a sociopath

because You don’t like touching, unable

to imagine it was her musky skin,

dust-dry lips that made me shrink.

She’d slap my head and demand

kisses on lips—even in Kindergarten

I had a fathoming

of what incest was. Burned something

fierce when I spiraled my father’s

oiled hair into two spikes

and said, I’m making you

horny. How does a child know

such things, isn’t shame

learned or is it something seedy

and genetic? Like my mandibular

tori, bone growths

filling my mouth like cement, but still


unable to stop the fattening

and the disgraces falling out.


Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet and novelist. She’s the author of seven collections of poetry including the forthcoming Savagery, the forthcoming Constellations of My Body, the forthcoming Drag Me Through the Mess, as well as Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo as well as the novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded numerous poet-in-residencies posts, including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM. Jessica is the recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund in Poetry. She is the owner of a multi-award winning writing services business, MehtaFor, and is the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga movement. Visit Jessica’s author site at