Blood Connection

Body is a road. Body is a moment on the road. Body is a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road in an autumn too hot for the leaves to turn. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road in an autumn too hot for the leaves to turn so they die green and fall green into the dirt beyond the road. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road in an autumn too hot for the leaves to turn so they die green and fall green into the dirt beyond the road where beyond the road snarls at the dying season.

View from Sunset Motel

Sunset sounds like

unexpected footsteps

down the hall,

unfamiliar doors

clicking softly,

notes that scribble

in the dark and slide

from unexpected places

like friendly switchblades.

From the window

if you look hard

enough you can see

Papa Legba walk by

and I’m his

shattered, dead dog

my ribs an espresso

stained chalice anyone

can drink from.

Sunset smells like

pine, burnt kudzu,

and date rape

only the dick

has no money to

take you out on a date,

Peach moonshine

stains every carpet

and the bathtub’s full

of cypress blood

and all the stories

that don’t need

retelling.

Someone turns the key

and someone else

says, “Pass me by,”

but every body is

naked in the streetlight.

Originally published in Black Heart Magazine July 2015.

Anatomy Lesson

This is my arm

I hurt it when I

jumped across the creek

and fell.

You are not allowed to jump

across the creek.

Neither am I.

This is my shoulder,

dislocated after I bought

a train ticket.

I am not allowed to buy a train ticket.

This is my shirt.

It was torn as a shirt

gets torn

when its wearer meets

an incoherent,

violent yearning.

Look for my eye,

it went missing as I was

leaving the theatre.

I am not allowed to see.

This is a revised version for my poetry collection, Lupercalia. This poem first appeared in The Idle Class, Aug. 2014. Read the original, previous version here. (Written as Jessica Forest)

Cat=Food

Disclaimer: Mr. J loves my cats. But he came into my life many years after they did. They were here first. They don’t understand why he’s here now. They hate him. He does not understand why they hate him, or rather he does but he doesn’t care. Also, we are both vulgar people and swear at our pets just as much as they swear at us in cat language. No cat feelings or human feelings were harmed.

We were watching Master Chef.

Me: Describe the spirit of Tiny Rick if he were food.

Mr. J: A really good stew that you crack a raw egg all over at the last minute.

Me: What?

Mr. J: Because he sneezes all over everything.

Me: Okay, what about Leela?

Mr. J: Tiramisu but you dumped the entire jar of cinnamon over it.

Me: Why?

Mr. J: Because the core is good but if you scrape away the top it’s just overwhelming and slightly annoying.

Me: Okay, Titian?

Mr. J: Chocolate pudding. Because she’s a fat piece of shit and slightly runny.

Note: Titain weighs 18.5 lbs. which is big for an American shorthair.

This One Pigeon

The pigeon made mistakes.

—Frida Kahlo, The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait

When I wasn’t working or fucking my boyfriend I was either standing in a queue or walking around the space between Reading Jail and Jackson’s Corner. I never reluctantly stood in a queue. The space between Reading Jail and Jackson’s corner has the mall with the cash point, the chocolate shop where my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend works, a pub that brews really good mead, and a church (Reading is too small for a Cathedral). Reading Jail has a very high wall. A friend of my boyfriend once said the space between Reading Jail and Jackson’s Corner was the best place to go if you felt like climbing the church tower with a sniper rifle and a sack lunch. I have a lot of days where I feel like that, especially when I’m not working, queueing, or fucking. There are a lot of pigeons in that space. A lot of those pigeons don’t have all their toes. I saw this one pigeon that had no feet at all but walked amazingly well on its little ankle bones. There are sharp metal spikes on the ledges of buildings. When a pigeon tries to land it loses its toes. But it’s not inhumane because when the pigeons try to land they can still fly away.

Photo source.

How to Build an Altar

To build an altar you need the familiar territory of a dry riverbed and the shadow of a nuclear power plant. You need the roar of a siren on the air, the highway in the distance, the skull of a kingfisher and the footprints of someone you don’t love anymore. You need a stone from a hand that killed in a war far from home, knucklebones that know the fractals of a willow branch and all the sounds of breaking. You need the smells of honeysuckle, salt, and gunpowder, a piece of iron if you’re superstitious. You need the oil slick iridescence of a cockroach wing and a lock of your mother’s hair. You need the cornerstone of a place that makes you feel safe, even if that place isn’t really a place but a scrap of paper or the empty air. You need a poem written by someone you haven’t met yet.