clare's song

blonde  fair   bleached   faded   pale   pastel light
blameless   clean   innocent   guiltless   pure   clear
anatomy   build   figure   person   physique   form
complexion   countenance   hue   mien   tint   cast
bead   dab   dash   ounce   iota   spot   trace   drop
succeed   qualify   answer   do   suffice   suit   pass

authorization   permit   ticket   license   paper   visa   pass
effortless   facile   moderate   smooth   undemanding   light
abandon   dismiss   disown   quit   reject   renounce   drop
jump   leap   hurdle   negotiate   surmount   vault   clear
actors   artists   characters   company   players   roles   cast
behavior   manner   conduct   custom   practice   rite   form

arrange   assemble   concoct   create   devise   forge   form
cross   depart   flow   go   move   proceed   travel   pass
copy   duplicate   facsimile   mold   plaster   replica   cast
amusing   gay   merry   blithe   pleasing   witty   light
accumulate   gain   acquire   net   realize   secure   clear
decrease   decline   downturn   reduction   slump   drop

bleed   dribble   leak   ooze   seep   splash   trickle   drop
character   class   grade   make   species   variety   form
audible   lucid   coherent   distinct   plain   precise   clear
canyon   cut   gap   gorge   path   opening   ravine   pass
airy   buoyant   delicate   feathery   unsubstantial   light
emit   radiate   diffuse   spray   spread   scatter   cast

appoint   assign   designate   choose   name   pick   cast
abyss   chasm   descent   dip   plunge   precipice   drop
angle   approach   aspect   attitude   slant   viewpoint   light
application   sheet   chart   questionnaire   blank   form
advance   overture   proposition   approach   play   pass
absolute   convinced   decided   satisfied   sure   clear

bare   empty   free   stark   vacant   vacuous   void   clear
boot   fling   heave   hurl   launch   project   toss   cast
predicament   crisis   contingency   plight   state   pass
collapse   duck   flop   tumble   pitch   plummet   drop
format   framework   order   scheme   structure   form
beacon   bulb   dawn   flash   ray   shine   torch   light

model   pattern   fashion   form   appearance   contour   cast
luminous   radiant   clear   sunny   ablaze   aglow   light
ebb   fade   wane   depart   drop   end   die   decease   pass

—after nella larsen

More by Evie Shockley

canvas and mirror

self-portrait with cats, with purple, with stacks
      of half-read books adorning my desk, with coffee,

                  with mug, with yesterday's mug. self-portrait
            with guilt, with fear, with thick-banded silver ring,

      painted toes, and no make-up on my face. self-
            portrait with twins, with giggles, with sister at

                  last, with epistrophy, with crepescule with nellie,
with my favorite things. self-portrait with hard

head, with soft light, with raised eyebrow. self-
      portrait voo-doo, self-portrait hijinks, self-portrait

                  surprise. self-portrait with patience, with political
            protest, with poetry, with papers to grade. self-

      portrait as thaumaturgic lass, self-portrait as luna
            larva, self-portrait as your mama. self-portrait

                  with self at sixteen. self-portrait with shit-kickers,
with hip-huggers, with crimson silk, with wild

mushroom risotto and a glass of malbec. self-
      portrait with partial disclosure, self-portrait with

                  half-truths, self-portrait with demi-monde. self-
            portrait with a night at the beach, with a view

      overlooking the lake, with cancelled flight. self-
            portrait with a real future, with a slight chance of

                  sours, with glasses, with cream, with fries, with
a way with words, with a propositional phrase.

the fare-well letters [excerpt]

dear ink jet,


          black fast. greasy lightning.
won't smear. won't rub off.
          defense: a visual screen: ask
an octopus (bioaquadooloop).
          footprints faster than a speed-
ing bully, tracking dirt all
          over the page. make every
word count. one. two. iamb.
          octoroon. half-breed. mutt.
mulatto. why are there so few
          hybrids on the road? because
they can't reproduce. trochee
          choking okay mocha. ebony,
by contrast, says so much.

playing with fire

something is always burning, passion,
                        pride, envy, desire, the internal organs 
        going chokingly up in smoke, as some-
                thing outside the body exerts a pull
that drags us like a match across sand-
                        paper. something is always burning, 
        london, paris, detroit, l.a., the neighbor-

                hoods no one outside seems to see until 
they're backlit by flames, when the out-
                        siders, peering through dense, acrid,
        black-&-orange-rimmed fumes, mis-
                take their dark reflections for savages 
altogether alien. how hot are the london
                        riots for west end pearls? how hot in tot-

        tenham? if one bead of cream rolls down 
        one precious neck, heads will roll in brix-
ton: the science of sociology. the mark
                        duggan principle of cause and effect: 
        under conditions of sufficient pressure—
                measured roughly in years + lead ÷ £s—
black blood is highly combustible.