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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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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.

In an otherwise normal conversation, in a throaty voice, she said,
Sometimes if I see a chipmunk—or a squirrel, or what have you, in the road,
I’ll swerve to hit it.

They nodded, my stomach sank. I, devourer of animals, still
do not desire to crush a creature’s skull under my wheels.

Sometimes I wonder, when I’m driving, and I see, like this morning—
a bloody mess. One chunk of flesh, bright red, a deer obliterated,
anatomy slapped across the highway. What was the intent?
Did he press his foot to gas with a laugh?
Do the subsequent artists roar as they roll over its flesh?

I hate you so—I want to touch the contour of your face,
look into those blue eyes and long lashes and hate you.
I want to disappear into the warmth and mass of your arms, hating you.
I want to curse your name and sing your name a thousand times,
hit those two syllables like I want to hit your jaw, cut my knuckles
on the smile you ever dared to use on me.

I want to bury you in the earth for hurting me, I want to dig you up,
breathe air into your lungs, bring a knife down on your chest,
over and over, replicating the wounds you left me.
I am 1000 miles away and right next you, dead and very alive.
Is it possible to talk with you, now, constantly, and never again?
Can I exist between both of these parallel universes, experience both?

Look at me—never think of me again. Talk to me, let’s never speak again.

In the lab in the corner of the building
most under the sun when the sun was up
Leah and I stood over a peachy orange
little fetal baby piglet, forked feet up,
on the marble countertop.

Apron, goggles, scalpel, bloodless
slice of rubber unborn skin meant
to teach anatomy to fifteen year olds
turning sixteen, fetal pig lab project
seventeen baby pigs out of a box
on the marble countertop.

“Not blood, it’s formaldehyde,”
Ms Halczak says as we shriek at
brown fluid streaming out of the slit
in the corpse pig’s white stomach
pooling in the corners of the pan
and smelling like piss and shit
all mixed and shoved up our noses.
Our pig had more formaldehyde than
the others’, brown syrup flowed until
we couldn’t see a liver or intestines
or anything. “Go look at Kyle’s,” says
Ms Halczak, seeing our soupy
brown pig in a pan. We needed
to make a diagram.

Kyle lost his mother four years ago,
his partner was absent, he hacked
away at the baby pig skull ‘til it popped
off like a soda bottle cap and
there was the round pee-yellow brain,
he pointed the scalpel down, we said,
“No!” and laughed but frowned
as he squished up the brain, glooping
over like runny mashed potatoes.

The whole school smelled like fetal
piglet for a few days, to me, anyway,
and a month later at a baseball game
Leah said, “Do you smell that?”
It was fetal pig above the diamond.

Now I’m looking out the window
on a blue Spring day, almost ten years past,
memories draped in layers over old ones,
and I smell it as if it’s outside

that fetal pig,
formaldehyde.

“Numinous Emotions,” Helena Wierzbicki

When speaking with a human being,
be sure to make direct eye contact.
Your pupils assert some dominance,
your irises give some implications.
Be brave and hold someone’s gaze,
to recognize them as a real person,
someone to listen to, look at, believe in,
or challenge. There’s a brain behind those
jellied skull pockets.

The inner brain wants out, it has it’s methods for strangling through to the front of your mind
and leaving you ill,
a bleeding tunnel souvenir,
you can point out the lines on a brain scan,
“This is left over from when I lost it.”

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