Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

My Headache (Erasure 5/5)

Tell-Tale Heart Erasure Poem 5/5


My Headache

I talk freely
I talk fluently
I talk to God
I swore, and the noise arose

I thought I was better
than those smiles,
this heart


–Erasure Poem made from Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” One poem per page from The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Barnes & Noble, 2004)

This is the final erasure poem from Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart.” It’s been an interesting experiment creating these. I chose the story because it was short, I knew I’d have time to do it, and I know the story well since it’s a freshman lit standard. I wanted to escape the story, but Poe’s deranged narrator made that difficult and so the poems came out appropriately dark.

Poe was also a tricky subject for his elevated use of language—them fifty dollar words, if you will. I made a semi-conscious effort to avoid some of that to get a more natural, modern sound to these.

I liked doing the actual erasures what with the physical manipulation of the materials. It really felt like I was making something. I typed them, though, because I would find such things annoying to read if I had to read very many of them and also, I would like them to be able to stand on their own as a series, if not singly.

I also need to give major props to Dave Bonta whose ongoing Pepys’ Diary erasure series inspired this. Speaking of Dave, be sure to check out his beautiful new chapbook Twelve Simple Songs.


  1. Erasure poetry is fascinating, specially the idea of working through a whole text to produce a series of poems

    • I agree. Sticking with one text was a really cool exercise. Someday I’d like to try something longer. Thanks for reading.

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