jersey fems at the philly zoo

a flamingo knows, 
even without pink lipstick, 
fem is a feeling. 

black boots. Raritan
tap water memories flow. 
murderous brown geese. 

fly from Johnson Park, 
arrive, then turn up their beaks
'fuck dis sposta be?'

they inquire. I 
find cover in the leopard 
print fem next to me

because here, always 
someone's looking, someone's stares
caught in plexiglass

refracting the light 
in your life. no. it's not you. 
they look to consume.

especially spring, 
and when the ice cream melts
before it's lapped up. 

Philadelphia 
is lilac and lightning strike
before a great storm. 

electric strangers
cuff biceps unexpected 
back draws straight—horror.

they look to consume. 
they desire to control.
predatory birds; 

eagles, owls, all. 
swooping down with catching claws, 
no glass to hide you. 

I want my armor
an exoskeleton, tough 
hewn of crushed velvet

bristling with defense 
a kevlar of tenderness
enveloping me. 

this is what happens 
when the tree blooms: the axeman 
runs to chop it down. 

this is what happens 
when creatures meant for the deep 
somehow crawl ashore: 

they will be lapped up 
by the hot eyes of the sea 
pulled tight by strange hands 

knives licking their necks
the scent of wisteria
fireworks: flash/bang. 

flash fire, roll flame
clip wings from those who maim us 
declaw them all, bare. 

maybe the will burn 
corralled, while lights dance in the sky.
steaming macho ash. 

and if they must live 
then make me invisible. 
hide me. erase me. 

Last Best Niche

found language from Brideshead Revisited

When I was seventeen,
ecstasy disguised itself as vice:
juicy, offensive, and easy—

pretty things want to get rough.
an impertinent affair of the heart & more than the heart,
when I was seventeen. 

Tipsy virgins viced their pimples
when I was seventeen,
and transformed pretty things to indecisive cornsilk. 

When I was seventeen I said
I give up, finding no keener pleasure than a dear
or unnatural boys in ecstasy.

My partner, the obscure other,
was very naughty and kind
insatiable as our affairs, 

so I gave up and let myself be offensive—
a juicy piece of impertinence 
when I was seventeen,

wearing coloured tails obscured
by poppies, hearts, and deers:
no thing could give me keener pleasure.

Come back! I’ll be keenly offensive!
whispered, when I was seventeen
and transformed the popping juice of pleasure.

With meaty boys, a juicy little piece 
of vice, when I was seventeen.
And with others? Pleasure. Hullabaloo. Ecstasy. 

The heart’s juicy poppy,
its rough pimples, its kindness—blasphemous.
I gave up more than my heart.