The Dead Girls Speak in Unison

Do not pretend that you don't like it
when we threaten you.

We see you getting pheromone stink
under the collar, moaning, baldly. 

Motionless, picturing decay.

When we creak your step,
when we crack your glass,
when we tap tap tap,

that is a bone

that is all we have

though we are very shiny,
and filled with beetles.

We are made entirely of bone.

Like an idol.

Like the tusk of some wonderful past.

When you cleave to us,
your skin will fuse,
hot calcium meth,
and in the myth, 
you will be named for us.

More by Danielle Pafunda

In Portraits in Seasons

As a feral thing would. As a dead leaf
whose crunch she herself hears, whose

buggy interior floods the sidewalk. Beamy
the world, yet a blank all the same.


Where you’ve tucked your pen into your notes,
I tuck my fingernail, burned and cursed and

shut tight my eyes. I tuck my feet up like a girl.
In this corner, warm milk fall of light something

far from revealing its bone-blank eyes, that is,
the eyes downcast in every portrait, shaded

the ribbon a bright blue furl across the gaze,
the peculiar mother, her arm around a naked toddler

the fall of light. Betrays nothing. The book in
hand, betrays. As a feral thing would,

I shred its binding and burn through it for warmth.

Literal, Littoral, Littleral

I have enough times been the ampersand,
the hitch between two vehicles
the vehicle itself careening questionably
up the mountain road, which is,
in my opinion, poorly designed, a hazard.
It is sometimes called the coast,
the coastal highway, but never
the cliff-side transfer whereby you take
your life in your hands, or more literally
the wheel in your hands, or the hands
beside which you sit, the wheel by which
many subtle gestures ensure
your safe arrival. Anyhow, it seems to me
a very poor choice of transit. However
much we love vehicular independence,
the illusion thereof. Or the glamour
of regency ghouls. That golden age.
Anyhow, the vehicle, she, why not,
that has many times been me,
and hardly splendorous, sinking
dolefully, doefully, dutifully
into the “lake,” rolling graceless over,
eating up the “blurred yellow lines,”
eating pavement, often graciously so.
I have been the pinch of weather
in the phenomenological space
between you lovers, the compartment
in which you exist hand to thigh.
The crowbar in the garden rusting
from strange use, with little ambition,
who would throw such a thing there?
And when I am no longer analogous,
I go. Likely poorer and better off besides.

Coffin Oseberg Covered Wagon for All Our Grievous Doings

What use in you you wrong wrought wood
what bevel escaped its key. A mandible
beyond its prey an arrow all shaft in each
one its torso oddly pierced and tails that spring
like thistle weed a root that wears a vacant stay
and tacky to the touch its itch to form a place
gone red with west and who will ride your behest?

Your Pegasus, your polar bear no need to build nor ride.
A crank that fails to meet its shaft a terminal inside
where thorax says that form is fact and bid that bird
it tried till eyes were tooled from spit-balled wad
formaldehyde and crime. Bury what you preach,
why not, in the hull that wooden rind.
 

Related Poems

The Drowned Girl

This is a quiet grave. In is not made of myths, of great barbarous fish, of coral, 
or salt. No one submerges himself with metal and rubber, no one shines her 
white light along the floor. Search parties have been suspended. There is no 
treasure buried here. This is the place of what-is-not. Of a green so green those 
flying above it would call it blue. Of a black so black it glows. This is a world 
with its own species of ghosts--plankton drifting inside her, the barnacles nesting 
on her hips, her wrists, their whole beings mouths frozen in horror. Sound 
turned into silence--like cloth on the floor is the shed skin of the lover. Like 
sheets bereft of the shapes that slept. Once upon a time she was all escape--her 
long hair, siren of copper and cinnamon, burning a comet behind her. Her long 
legs that loved heels and short skirts, that craved the hard slap of the city 
beneath her. You would have read this girl. You both wanted more. But she 
doesn’t remember how she got here, in this bed that consumed her. Why she 
can’t put her lipstick on, why one would press color like a promise to the lips. It 
must have begun with red. But the beginning of this story is lost to the water, 
you could rake its bottom of leaves and sticks like tea, you could spear one of its 
last trout and study the slick pages of its intestine. The girl is leagues and leagues 
away from the first kiss of prologue, but she, throat caked with mud, white skin 
scaled verdigris, must be the message within the bottle. Words grow in her 
belly. It doesn’t matter who put them there. If they are the children of plankton,
descendants of eels and pond scum. They come to her as twins, triplets, and 
septuplets, whole alphabets swimming inside her. Each one is a bubble, a bread 
crumb, a rung to climb to the top. And as she ascends she names them with 
names cradled inside her. Her feet kick and her arms clutch. Her body strong 
and slippery, a great tongue that propels her: A is for apple, B is for bone, for 
boat, C is for candle, for cunt, for cut.