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.

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.

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.