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To the devil, of thirty years

When I was a little thing, you were always in the backyard,

after dark you would chase me up to the house.

In a few years, you found your way inside

to stand by my bed at night, until my sister’s finger-puppets,

her shadow play, translated into dreams.

At age eleven, I turned to my father to ask –

am I the Devil? – by then you were truly

inside. I prayed to God because of you.

For twenty more years I would do things

I hated, because I should, to be good,

because of you.

You pressed the juice from my eyes;

the ones that used to turn men into syrup,

women into comedians.

The years roll by; you are still

hot on my heels and I am so afraid to look behind me,

I have built the muscles of my back to fight you

I am a grown-up now so I play with my own shadows

to throw you off, like my sister did when we were kids.

But someday, I will turn around. Thirty years is

long enough, I think to myself. It’ll be one gutsy half-pirouette,

but I will finally behold you, and your face will be pretty like mine,

with those same eyes

I thought I had lost.





Buttermilk petals, butter yellow petals, and there is time this morning

to write about these buttercream petals. I left no invocation of yellow unturned;

I combed the metaphors out of Spring; I rolled away the stone but His body

was still there; Mustard is a blister I burst for the honey inside –


I deflowered my own childhood imagination in the process.

Every spoken word was chalk.

I began to hate the shimmy of cream

outside the window whenever the wind picked up


Those little kamikaze


though it was never

really about them, or butter, or

Spring. I just used you, I said.

Your sensuality turned me on.

I wanted something I have never tasted before to fill my mouth


such tiny pools of Sarin, mistaken

for rainwater collecting in each

buttermilk pistil,

were they to find my tongue – what would they make me say?


In the years I learned to love

In the years I learned

to love, my shirt was

low my skirt short

my shoes



There was no more room

left here, in those years.

Nobody seemed to get this.

We all looked for jobs,

there weren’t any

roles to fill.


In the years I learned

to love, I ditched my sweetheart

for a hundred thousand

different men.


Those were the days of drinking,

to unremembered things

that happened to us

when we were

smaller than

a barstool.


In the years I learned

to love, I felt nothing

but a fibrotic clock

inside my chest.


It was an age of righteous causes

and everyone had them:

water, food, and air. Even

the laundromats and bill-

boards would pontificate.

All of us, moonlighting

as diehards, rectifying

our own history,

catching the



Back when the hubbub

was a pacifier that we

sucked at gulping

and greedy until

we learned.


In the years I learned

to love, I hated

easiest of all.



original artwork by kaitlin deasy

please don’t leave

I keep the words small

to see if they will stay –

the words, I mean, and you

and me, stay put and wait –

for the magic hat


If they are small

there’s more room for you

to stop by, we can visit awhile

the hat is en route

please don’t leave


it has no bottom

it can hold whatever you want

tell me, how’s your wife and

how’s your daughter


I stay small, keep

out of the way –

there are surely more to come

for the hat to be magic

I need you here


have you seen it before?

no, neither have I, just

wait till you see what comes out

when I reach my hand in –

please don’t leave


so you don’t believe in magic,

no, neither do I, but when I heard

it can be whatever you want,

I thought I will give this hat a try,

only now I can’t find my hand

please don’t leave


for g

person. place. thing. idea

her body is a placeholder for woman –

some century old reservoir, captured on film

time and again, a favorite for devotees –

all that blue taffeta, plicate from levee to levee

beaks ply the ruche to their sky, stitch by stitch –

revising the noun she is in.


1882, Étienne-Jules Marey

gods with witching sticks

She held a newborn & still no fever swelled her belly; she obtained the exhaustive allegiance of a man, first from his body, then deeper from an umbra, with a grit; she waited for love to conclude womanhood –

so she overfed on glass lakes and silence like a glut, until she learned to grow her own food & not rely on the moonlight to fill her, by trees on the mountain numbering in the thousands to stop objective thought, or by children and men building nests within her –

inside were the gods with witching sticks, she said, after years of straying towards lyric of lush depths & thirsty heights; she enunciates her swollen heart with a concentrate rarified by hearing ears so that all the girls to follow might know yet another way of burning.


> photo courtesy of


He left her for the thought of them

in the suburbs, delivering pizza,

fried fish skin dinners, coffee,

piss-drunk poverty.


He left her for Europe,

to carry the torch of his forefathers

who governed by dialectics into

supremacy, into dominance of land,

separation of class, warring of peoples.


And she stays with their spore print:

barefoot on the linoleum floor, their sidewalk,

his drunk pissing wall

plastered with advertisements

at the edge of the park where they would

roll around until the sun broke or clouds cracked.


All these remain, left to deposit their dust daily;

while she capitulates to the gale from this ocean,

or rain from her side of the split sky,

to carry the fruit away.


photo by teresa gierzynska

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