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)

A sestina of bare bones

(after the tale of briar rabbit)

briar

heart

flank

stories

running

sun

sun

briar

running

heart

stories

flank

flank

sun

stories

briar

heart

running

running

flank

heart

sun

briar

stories

stories

running

briar

flank

sun

briar

stories

stories

running

briar

flank

sun

heart

heart

stories

sun

running

flank

briar

briar

flank

running

A sestina is a poem with six stanzas of six lines and a final triplet, all stanzas having the same six words at the line-ends in six different sequences that follow a fixed pattern, and with all six words appearing in the closing three-line envoi.

One of my favorite poetic forms, aside from the haiku, is the sestina. The repetition and forced cadence of the form is very comforting to read, almost lulling, and every sestina I have encountered sends me into a happy state of catatonia.

It is not the same when I actually try writing a sestina. Whenever I try to write a sestina my brain breaks and the words sound terrible. So I usually don’t write sestinas, or I haven’t tried in a very long time.

During my revisions of Lupercalia I thought it would be a great idea to add a sestina to the collection. Why, I don’t know. But I tried and tried and couldn’t make it work and THEN I thought: I like the repetition, I like the end words, why not just make the poem with the end words? And I did and it tells the same story I wanted to convey through a more fleshed out poem but better because it’s jarring and blunt.

Is it still technically a sestina, though? Probably not but I don’t care. It’s an experimental, hybrid monster sestina and I love it very much.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Decomposition

A body says, “Hello.”

Another body does not reply.

A body says, “Hello.” Again.

Another body does not reply.

A body walks into a bad joke. A body feels like a bad joke.

A body tries to tell a bad joke to another body and another body walks away.

A body has breakfast alone.

A body skips lunch alone.

A body has coffee alone.

A body has dinner alone.

A body says, “Loneliness is not the unyielding force but the soft buoyancy of humid air that no one else can see.”

A body says, “Loneliness is not the story locked in the past but the inability to explain what happened.”

Or the inability to find someone who will listen.

A body says, “Loneliness is trying as hard as you can but still failing because (insert your beliefs about failing here).”

A body sees.

A body tastes.

A body touches.

A body feels the memories a body doesn’t want to feel. A body blocks them out. A body smothers them with a crashing wave. A body pounds them into the ground and refuses to let them breathe even for one second. A body can’t let them breathe for even a second.

A body hears a body’s fist connect with what a body cannot kill.

A body smells a body’s blood.

A body wonders how a body got hurt when a body was supposed to be inflicting all the hurt, all the punishment.

Oracle

The fake ones eat

the bones and gristle of cats

to see the future. They drink

the blood of rattlesnakes

and wear sharks’ teeth in their

long, flowing hair.

The real ones hide in caves,

hang their dead

in cages, suck

the fallen vertebra

(when the backbone falls

like a clump of grapes)

and the cracked bodies of sun

dried tomatoes when gobs

of red blot their mouths,

where their teeth

have knocked upon the stone

floor. The woman’s eye

is an inkwell; pecked pious

and unfathomable.

She goes naked in her

sagging skin.

Listen to the recording here.