Another Small Gathering

Someone had laced the pot,
my date shape-shifting 
in the car’s plush seat. 

I rolled with it, his tongue, 
not sexy or soft, but possibly 
earnest. I must have bit him 

on purpose to regain my breath, 
redirect him away from my throat. 
Get it on, bang a gong, get it on,

his favorite song on the mixtape.
I was a liar, called my parents 
hours later from a distant Finger Lake 

to say I was sleeping at Suzanne’s. 
Is a hydra like the zebra mussel 
taking hold here, forever altering 

the ecology of Keuka and me, half-dressed 
in his younger sister’s top bunk, 
my bony hips against his, 

the popcorn ceiling scraping my back 
each time I was flipped over. 
I’d foreseen this happening 

the second we left the gymnasium 
with its stupid decorations. 
Through the bay window of a child’s room,

the black water licked the dock,
the huge lake a dream
into which I threw my still boyish body.

He wasn’t aware of me, 
nor I of him. How inelegant and sad 
our untangling was, how we’d misremember it.

Related Poems

A Bell, Still Unrung

She daily effuses
the close-mouthed
tantrum of her fevers.

Hog-tied and lunatic.                         
Born toothsome, 
unholy. Born uppity.        
    
Blue-jawed and out-order.   
Watched her sculptor                   
split her bitter seam        
              
with his scalding knife;
mauled through the errant                
flesh of her nature

and hemorrhaged mercury, 
molted snakeroot, a smoke           
of weeping silver. 
 
She, accused.
Sprung from the head 
of a thousand-fisted

wretch or a blood-dark                                   
cosmos undoubling
her bound body.  
                   
Vexed shrew. Blight of moon.         
She, armory. Pitched-milk pours
from her gold oracular.

Bred in her nest a lone                          
grenade, prized, unpried
its force-ripe wound.

She, disease. Often bruised
to brush the joy of anything.
Zombic. Un-groomed.      

Her night slinks open 
its sliding pin. One by one
these loose hopes

harpoon themselves
in, small-ghosts alighting
at her unwhoring.    

She, infirmary.
God’s swallowed
lantern, tar-hair and thick.

Her black torchstruck.
A kindling stick.
No sinkle-bible fix

to cure this burning.
Shrill hell. Jezebel.

Isn’t it lonely.

Crescent Moons

When the forensics nurse inspected me, she couldn’t
see the tenderness he showed me after. My walk home
 

squirmed sore with night. I passed the earthworms
displaced to sidewalk, their bodies apostrophed
 

in the sun. I did not anticipate a grief
so small, my noun of a prayer, Eat dirt to make dirt.
 

Took a man’s hand as he led me to cave. So long
as I breathed, I could huff violets in his dank, practice
 

earth’s gasp. Mother lifts daughter, daughter casts
look at camera, a killer, a stick in the mud. I hold
 

my own hand. When the forensic nurse inspected
me, I described the house, historic blue. Asked me
 

to push my hips down. Little crescent moons
where his nails stabbed into me. She gave me
 

the word abrasion so gently I offered consent. Blue
as the moon when I sighed wait, blue as the no of my

throat. Abrasion, possibly extended form of red.
Harm results in a starry night too, many galaxies
 

scraped under the nail of a heavenly body. Ah my
second earth, its wounds hardened into swallowed
 

prophylaxis, an injection pooling between muscle
and skin. A woke seed. Deadarmed anti-moons
 

aggregated. A storm can travel seeds up to 30 miles
away. They dust on the sidewalks like lost data.
 

He did not intend Did not. Bloody speculum
a telescope searching the angry night sky for proof.

Verguenza

Woman, I wish I didn't know your name.  
What could you be? Silence in my house 
& the front yard where the dogwood 
wouldn't make up its mind about flowers. 
Aren't you Nature? A stem cringing, half-
shadowed beneath a torque of rain. 
I too am leaving. I too am half-spun. 
The other day near the river
I bent down & Narcissus 
turned his immaculate mouth
away, refusing to caress
my howls. Silence in the trees
all around the shotgun house & that scent
of cedar whenever I dream.
I turn the light around on the ground, 
sweeping the red mud, holding 
the light like a rattler. Like a hood of 
poison, fitted over my face. Cobra 
woman, slicked with copperhead flutes. 
I too am fleeing. My face born
in a caul of music. Bravado.
The men come into the yard 
& pull all my clothes off, 
walk me into the house, 
into my own kitchen. 
Tell me not to say
say I'm wrong.