Jennifer K. Sweeney

How to Make Armor

Wear your bones like cold-rolled

steel, skin hammered

in brigandine sheets.

Pound leather and shadow

to a stiff segmentata.


Be corset-pinched.


Clad in devices,

night will rise like a wound,

duty bronzed to paldrons

hulking your shoulders.


When your bad decisions are fused

with chain mail and you’re dueling

in the silence of thieves,

go at the world in stone.


Fear is a long-revered tradition.


In the carbon-dark, language

is harnessed in its helm

as “order” from the Latin ordo

means closed circle.


Be plate-sealed,

protected as a priest’s halberd

wielding against a cauldron

of medicine.


Or lie naked in the dandelions,

pained with sensation.



“How to Make Armor” is from How to Live on Bread and Music (Perugia Press, 2009).