Her Rusted Voice, Her Nails

the broth of her mouth
drenched everyone
as she tended them like babies
cradled in a gutter, lending men
the pit of her ear as if
they spoke frequencies
deeper than wells

her life knew how
to walk red, dark circles in guts,
her hands knew how
to grow a fire with only sticks and breath
and hold the echoes of a man’s war
in her diaphragm

from them, she learned to know
freckles as parasites,
to be jester-like
in each small parody of war,
become a trophy of silence,

forget she could be god.

she poured another drink
down the hole
and felt herself buzz
like those bees, those men dying
silent and shocked
in the background

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In This Recycled House

you lied for
their crutches
which became your crutches
which became you
with a missing face
and blank white slats
and fingers with no prints
and circles of dark brail
that crashed like dominoes
and never broke
but really should have
touched something
more besides holes
of broken knots
holes of words
that drowned
and scraped
like sand

you weren’t the first
brisance
of gunpowder
you weren’t

like the mongols
or the ancient
world
suddenly violent

but you also weren’t
stopping
the phantom of
me swaying
from a sudden depth
of time
of the why

i see pictures
before and
after
and those pictures look like
ugly lilies
and mapped laughs and
how i saw you there
and how i see me
here
we were here
but i swear

we were never there
never
even
almost
quite there.

As the World Grows Tired

Meet me inside the sounds
which are growing us sick:
that shrieking microwave,
your cell phone ring, the cash
register emptied of real
currency, the defective lighter
you’ve kept, a heart
measuring its own failure.

You pretended stale lights
could make us free, as you
kissed me in a uniformed
parking lot. With exhaust
pipes sharing our breath,
tasting emptier than every
belonging we’ve deemed
worth having.

I would lose all of it to see
the hole of a subway more clearly,
to understand what force tangles
birds into cages. To stop
meeting the sick expectations
of beehives.

I don’t want the news,
I want what’s mine.

You slashing my tires with whatever was left

my birthmark looks exactly like you, an eye finding every pocket of lost conversation and you, your shifty dialect, your body which grinds itself
into the dust of the tiny movements you have been, trying, you know the difference between loss and how we are lacking, you with the sullen posture
and mathematical heart, the grungy eyes and crumpled fingers; you always asking questions with the intent of proving of a point, you

the noise which never comes back to
you hiding in a mile of consequence,
you in the lacustrine drinking saline water for relief, you the disappointing echo
that refuses to learn new languages you and your tunnel

the universe and you you you you the idea, sloppily

deceiving your own photos, you and pain will be
oceanic marbles, you in impossible motion, you the gaps we couldn’t separate
from the smiles, you wasted it, you are flashlights buried in pavement,
you were too young to know how pain creates
artificial sentences, you with no comparison, you folding within the claustrophobia of semi-trucks moving closer & closer together towards you, realizing
you were never whole, you were never any
more gentle than you thought.

On the Kitchen Floor in a Grimy Towel

I need precision like a face needs eyes,
like wind that can’t help but wrinkle,
I need reasons to erode the pounds
that drill bruises into my skin. Like you,
I have made the mistake of being too tired.
I have let all the vegetables rot on the counter
and there’s the sound of everything dropping
away at once. I am eating spoiled
thoughts of you like fodder. I’ve been
spilling urgency without noise
and describing how to be yellow
without lemons. I am the woman desperate
enough to buy pink pianos. I can’t play
and I rest my face in the ink of feeling,
more missing than a kid in the arcade,
the taste of sweaty cheer and disappointment
in flashes. Let’s say it now so we feel okay:

Let’s save each other for a time that won’t happen.

Victory’s Aftershave

We’re all running from the same cockroach
searching for that fake moment:
the apex of tossing waves, a tide
shelling more than its own sand,
magnetic plastic, water unboiling
and reboiling, a picket fence
with personality, gasoline torched
sunrises, smoke signals
arriving on time, anticlimactic
cancer, a ring that fits insecurity,
the eye of a tornado, victory’s aftershave,
the engines of storm clouds, anger in mosaic form,
two hearts stilled in amber,
a sword made of good-will, wet money held
in old age’s palm,

I’ve heard it all before,
the novelist wandering the world,
knapsack of mercury on back,
wielding an opus only second
to the champion of night crawlers,

a faltering crescendo. A gaze saturated
with too-much-whiskey and dug-up-sunflowers,
plea dealing with silence, nowhere specific
not to anyone at all,

what if this is it?

The Misfortune of Frames

Whether or not dominion is intentional,
it’s a triviality. Here I am outside
above and below. My body a fringe
clutched reluctantly in shrinking palms:
birth to death, a folded blueprint.

My teeth may lose luster or rot
like everything gentle in a peach
but somehow, this drunken
perception in the mirror, these
bits of frame I wish peeled off
like wallpaper, my big bones
incorrectly placed—they’re patterns

crafted from shoddy wool,
the only material permissible
for mocking height, worth,
a ring of well-intended lace,
the charm always stitched

back to ground level, or lower,
ten feet in the swamp. Thread
spooling illusory walls, eating

its own edifice. Temporal vision
deconstructing, the veil of progress
flimsy, inside my foundations I watch
everything crumble back, its skeleton

lost in sky scraped flesh. Its hunger
tearing out its own eye sockets.
A stilted persistence of movement,
ascending weight on dusty bricks,
ignominious truth and its dying verse
admitting never will it shed its old skin.