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Red sparks fading in a woodpile, bugs glowing in the grass,
I am several years younger and my scars are fresh.
I’m glazed over, sticky with protective mesh, gleaming

like a glow bug that drifts by slow enough to catch
with two pink rolly hands cupped into a net, two
glistening eyeballs, bloodshot and catching light under the lamps,

two empty bottles and a plan. I’m armed with skill as sharp
as broken glass, prickle people who pick me up.
I sob for cash. Tight shoulders, tight smiles, light breaths.

We keep the bonfire burning and speak through brassy rasps
of class, we drink elixers and crawl through the grass
with plastic tubes and square nails and summer dress.

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I have a mallet, I’m smashing my uterus into dust,
I’m dried up, I’m chili powder.

I’m a lounging courtesan in a painting, surface cracked,
The flakes expose a dry, dry canvas.

My circling curves glow pink under shadows, the red light ebbs
And grows from inside, amid hip joints,

My folds peeled back and pinned, pulmonary and porous.
My diagram drawn on the divan.

The door opens, she says my name, looks at her chart,
I’m there. How are you? Come in. I crack my limbs to sit
Rigid in the corner, on the couch’s edge, tapping my toes
On carpet. I don’t take off my coat, I don’t get comfortable.
So.
Her brow furrows. I’m sure she’s tired, importance drains
From my collected narratives, my hands die on my lap, my
Back curls forward, when I speak words fall from my lips,
Die in the same grave as my hands. I’m aware of my shape,
My face, pale, purple square, my eyes sitting big in my head.
I am a clogged bathtub, plug pulled yet the water won’t drain,
I am dirty bathwater instead of warm, delicious soup, a good girl
Who can solve my own problems and likes to waste your time.
I grow exhausted halfway through sentences, yet finish them
Some easy way, with a simple conclusion, an “I Don’t Know,”
I can envision a hundred better ways to say it, the solutions.
So.
She replies, then I know she misunderstood, I said it wrong,
What did I even say? It vanished back into the recesses
Of memory, buried under dinner plans and wondering when,
She spells back my own problem incorrectly, I don’t recognize
The words, were they even mine? Did I frame it that way?
In her face a muscle twitch, dread thrives in my brain’s clime
She is judging me. She thinks I look like a dried up dish rag,
She doesn’t understand why I make the same petulant claims
Every week, asking for suggestions for my mundane pains.
I envision escaping this stranger, summoned with dark magic,
I follow myself out of my own words to where I feel most safe,
Leaving her behind with her advice, the rephrasing of my lies.
I could have painted a picture but instead I scribbled figures,
Now we can outline my goals, she reads them back to me,
So I can hear my hollow words again in a stranger’s voice.
 

We sit knocking knees, looking
at one another’s lips, thinking,
“Who would I kiss? Pat on the back
over and over, just to touch?”

I don’t want to bolster you much,
just want to slide my lips sideways
across yours and clasp little fingers
together, want to touch your shoulder,
want a few grams of your warmth for
some self-esteem, to chew on meaning
and fat and multi-task my way to nirvana.

Dull fireworks, fizzling and falling,
passerby love and casual affection
mediocrity making my mouth water.

I feel shitty due to a dream, a good dream.
I reconnected with a college friend, she laughed,
fussed with her hair like she always did, rosy face
framed by her hands. The world was a mall,
we browsed through arts and crafts, all of that,
I saw everyone I used to know, even people I hated.
I looked great, all of us functioning fluidly in a seamless social scheme.
“How is it that we don’t talk anymore? Can I see you more often? I miss you so,”
She was amazing, everything I miss, connective conversation drawing me in —

but she’s not actually like that. She breached the surface of
that colorful, that connecting, that stimulating, for three days in time —
and if we were to reconnect it wouldn’t be like the dream at all,
she was never that bright or friendly, and if I spoke with her again,
the motions would be cold, and even — the horrible truth — awkward,
she’s just not who I wanted her to be, didn’t turn out how I wanted her to be,
she had every right to be something other than what I wanted,
but how am I nostalgic for something that never even was?

Sometimes it’s not that you burn the bridge,
it just crumbles due to poor infrastructure
and you dream of the blueprint and a matchbook.

I am a renaissance woman, in the sense that I’m not yet 30 and I’ve held
nearly 20 different jobs, not a single one like the last, I’ve held many
different hands intimately in my small clinging child-like grasp and let go.

I cry at the same news story once a year: this is what it means to be my age,
we all do it but we don’t talk about it face to face, we just tweet about it.
I save my soul with music because that’s the closest I let empathy come to me,
I choke out my own salvation and then write about it everywhere in space
to make sure you believe me, that I am believable and repetitive, so it’s catchy,
so you feel me.

Let’s not know how to end things — together,
in the same way that we can never do anything for long because it grows cold
and we grow paralyzed with confusion, realizing that contentment is a plateau
stretching out never-ending to the horizon; it bores us, we’re restless til death.

The first split, perhaps, occurred in a small hospital room,
where I huddled on a chair, much like Crane’s desert beast,
eating my own heart. The man who put me there remained
outside, removed forever after that. And I grew a new heart.

Our old hearts do not disappear once digested, it turns out.
Rather, they’re reborn in a new beast, a new you, a shadow.
Moments create monsters; it’s that skeletal woman in Martyrs,
stuck in my mind behind me, slinking around wherever I go.

Naked and emaciated, starving, tortured, following forever.
I slide quarters into a vending machine on a cold day, alone,
and struck with a chill, I see her—behind the corner, creeping,
reminding me of something, many things, that certain thing.

My old heart, devoured, hanging black inside those brittle ribs,
beats with the weighty thoughts, angsts, desires, and pains
dating back five years, to the taste of my heart in the hospital.
The woman stares at me, her heart beating, reminding me.

When she grew too familiar to scare me, it happened again:
A moment standing in the kitchen, then sinking to my knees,
crushed and screaming, weak, dry-heaving, barely breathing,
eating my heart whole with both hands, somehow still living.

So she appeared, another woman, another old mangled heart
of mine, cradled between her gray breasts, crawling toward me,
both of them at once or singularly, during those weaker moments,
staring, beating, breathing, seeing, both memories embodied.

I can taste it again, on my tongue, when I see them every so often.
The women who were once me, monsters shaped from memory,
carrying the broken consumed things, those past devoured feelings,
waiting for my red lips, white teeth, fresh blood, new company.

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