A Strict Definition


has a very strict definition

like table

or coffee

or book


has a very strict usage

that shouldn’t be

thrown around

especially not to sell books


involves a very strict scenario

of consistent, excessive force

often leaving welts, bruises,

broken bones,

and sometimes worse

no, you shouldn’t



especially not to sell books

it’s unethical

it’s exploitative

it’s unimaginable

you’d do something like that

to family

when we fed you

when we bought you toys,

movies, video games

when we held you

feverish and trembling

when we drank with you

when we sang with you

when we paid your credit debt

when I went to your wedding

when I watched your child being born

was that abuse?

no it wasn’t

you’re just exaggerating


a smattering

of events

to sell books

to sell your awful book



has a very strict definition

he hardly ever beat us

he hardly ever screamed at us

he hardly ever left a mark

how could you

mention such things

while we’re still living

you’ve hurt a lot of people,

you know?

you’ve made life

much more difficult

with all this


Nathaniel Sverlow is a freelance writer of poetry and prose. He currently resides in the Sacramento area with three cats, one incredibly supportive wife, and his young son. His previous publishing credits include Typehouse Literary MagazineBlack Fox Literary Magazine, The Fiction Pool, Squawk Back, and Bone Parade. He also recently published his first poetry compilation, The Blue Flame of My Beating Heart.