Two weeks after the man moved in with the woman, the woman began to grow gills. They hurt coming in, like the pain of an emerging tooth. She hid her neck with scarves at first, partly because she didn’t want the man to see and partly because she didn’t want to.
In the Calle 13 song “Latinoamérica,” Residente says that whoever doesn’t love their country doesn’t love their mother. How does one write about their mother?
You say the earth is mad.
The only book about a black or brown person and the main character is a black girl whose black friend got shot. I’m not paying $20 for this book centered around a dead black person. I’m spending $32.99 to buy some boxing gloves from Amazon so I can get ready to show these girls what’s good; so I can look my teacher into her bespeckled face with its green eyes and, right before I tell her to put her dukes up to defend herself before I actually start swinging. tell her that I cannot believe that she has the audacity to decide the one book about a person of color will be about death.
My favorite iteration of God is 12-year-old GirlGod — God of watermelon bubblegum and Dr. Pepper LipSmackers. Of hologram stickers and locked diaries. GirlGod of 1994.
to that creek with the sluggish / brown water that swells up each / spring and recedes as if sipped / from old bags of toilet wine God / won't find you in the cornfields
Soaking wet in cotton underwear and an oversized soccer jersey, I am an animal—a 12-year-old in human years—sitting on a flooding wrap-around balcony in eastern Canada. This is where spruce and pine needles stick to the bottoms of your feet. This is where jewelweed grows in creeks.
Since my eyes are not blackened I can see so much more. I see the sobbing coming from Bonnie’s classroom. It is coral and curved like an undersea animal blooming in the sand. A thousand colors hidden in the absence of sunlight.
sing, the guttural & saccharine / taxonomy of shame: what want demands / the body forgives
his gun // memory of steel bars // the plea // his gun // her self-defense // his reaction // her end // his gun // any being cornered will fight back // & her teeth already dull from repeated use
A black bear – not too big, with a golden snout and shiny gold eyes. Was I that close? Close enough to feel the bear’s hot breath? Something in the shared glance and glare took me close. Closer. If I had wanted to, I could have sidled up and touched the animal.
Later, I dream of running across the street, a transparent green grid over my slow-motion running. Like a target. The car doesn’t make a sound, but the noise of my head hitting the car is still somewhere just across the threshold of awareness. The ears are the last to submerge.
When the man pulled the body from the bog, it had been flattened like a bear skin rug and carried the consistency of damp glue. Perhaps the fen had done this to the boy, or perhaps it was solely a carrier. They won’t want to see their boy like this, the man thought, and thusly collected the dripping anatomy into his fertilizer bucket.
For years after my travels, I’d track stories of women traveling alone, of women murdered, of women who’d made similar choices to the ones I’d made on the road. I followed the story of a young woman who’d been around my age when she’d gone backpacking and then missing in Nepal.
the world works in broken & imperfect circles like arms hugging a baby’s toothless smile the way a dog spins around & around before sleeping the word moon sung by nick drake the soft & rounded edges of the adobe home
Of course she asks if she can keep it. She usually hoards whatever she finds floating near the stern—empty beer cans, folded tourist maps, shredded bike tires—without asking permission. But this is something else, and she must know it.
She wrote about the man who sold balloons in the train station, how one of them floated off and got trapped against the ceiling, a balloon that read Congratulations! She told her the outside world was cruel and boring. She signed the letter Your Friend Forever.
Knausgård smells like cigarettes and not just like he just smoked but more like he is actually made of ashtrays and then loosely covered with hair and skin. “I’m quitting, I know,” he says and it’s clear he is accustomed to being called charming, but I’m not falling for it.
Returning the whale was soso still It did not complain when I crawled inside with my one can and my no candle The mouth the humid mouth was like a tunnel of warm sponge I thought A whale is smaller from the inside I thought This is what my heart would look like from the middle
Once upon a time, no one believed her. Even when Bear stands toe-to-toe with the sheriff, they do not believe her. Even when Bear huffs, or rudely shimmies against the living room wall, marking it with her scent, or crams blueberries into her snout—still, they do not believe her.
This run-down, rusted-out trailer park was the first place in years that wasn't someone else’s farm with frozen pipes in the winter, far from everyone including school friends. There were other kids here.
They say you can’t compare people’s suffering, but Rhiannon’s personal apocalypse is objectively stupid. Which somehow makes it more devastating. That someone with enough money and a nice fiancé and a flamingo shirt could be sad enough to turn herself inside out like this.
The statue of Mary extends a hand from her alcove by the altar, as if she’ll swap her cloister, her blue robes, and her thin stone lip for your chartreuse, corset-back gown and an hour pass to Cassidy’s reception in the church basement. It’s a tempting offer.
The body is gone. / But the shape of gravity is known. We carry her, / like a folded jacket of spirit, laying in our arms.
My little sister DeeDee drowned but they brought her back and now she is my dead grandmother. On the first day back to school, she accidentally bumped into Stanley, that fifth grader who looks like a seventh grader, and said, oh, cheese and rice.
You learned to spill by breathing out / make room for the warm marrow / that gives this pot its power
I'm in the back of the band room, sipping vodka from a dented Sprite bottle, trying to avoid Christopher Mackley and his overly earnest attempts to get me to buy something for the FFA fundraiser.
Am I the missing girl, my perfect niece? Am I her devastated mother, staggering towards us? Am I her devastated grandmother, crying into her fist? Her devastated grandfather, immobile at the table? Am I the silent Uber driver? Am I the men, grinning with their axes?
She was the only person who left me a note about what type of tree she is—which by the way is a magnolia. (Ask her why.)
I write that down and think of Tony perceiving all this. Will he wonder why we went outside to watch a string be cut in two? Will he understand the symbolism? Will his report to whomever convey a sense of community and perseverance? Will he understand why the drinks aren’t included?
She said that she’d like to go out to the lake in the afternoon and she pouted her lips and blew Richard a kiss and he pretended to follow it slow and long across the room and watched it fall into his cupped hands and when he looked up Elaine was just shutting the door.
Red-faced and enraged, I bite into / red strawberries, my face blooming / red. I read red words in a book my father / read. All of the pages are red. All of the words a- / re distractingly read.
The bottle she carries is real, each sip she takes is real, her heart beating invisibly in her chest is real—but she knows that nothing is really real until you have mimed it.
the priest speaks of my parents in many ways; though the undertaker speaks in one.
I imagined that necklace in a museum someday, the history of a world that had burned away etched on each bead with a safety pin. I wondered if the people in the new world would know the word museum.
The line to get into the club is down the block. That’s how you know it’s poppin’. At least that’s what Tripp says, rubbing his hands together so quickly I’m afraid he may start a fire.
The two of you have matching tattoos and yet she does not know the plunging depths of your self-doubt. You cannot let her know. You cannot let her know because she envies you—your witty captions, your nonchalance.
everywhere I look, I see eruption. A startle / of ice cracks off a branch above my head. / A local dog goes from saunter to sprint / at the sight of a squirrel.
These kids make you want to vomit. Not the hair: that could be got rid of with a good fine pair of shears and the good fine hands of buddies to hold them down while you do what’s needed. It’s the way they aren’t afraid, and you were promised fear.
After our discussion of childhood traumas, once / we’ve revisited a town in this valley named / Yettem (Armenian for Eden), you press your back against my chest.
When I talk on the landline these days, I can hear that telltale clicking my Russian friends warned me about. Someone’s listening in. Someone thinks I’m worth listening to.
Her mouth folds down, that puppet face of hers, eyes sad and pleading, yet she raises the empty point of gun to his chest. You know, she says, but I have such an incredible urge to shoot you.
The telephone is ringing and the dead on Everest answer: “I am so cold—please don’t cry. Everything will be fine.”
Outside, there are daisies that the astronaut’s wife has grown. She has always grown daisies at this house since they moved in, looked at the yard, said daisies, and it was decided. Outside, there are daisies, and the astronaut’s wife goes to pluck some for one of the vases.