Excerpt from Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse, “The Magician’s Wife”

The Magician’s Wife

When I’m with you I am not myself:
you call me Bella
then all words are consumed
by our kissing.

It’s not that you don’t like to talk.
From beneath a dark-brimmed hat
you hide behind other men’s
philosophies, conjure
the mythologies of stars
on a cloudy night.

Your smile’s contagious
yet I only know the expressions
of your face by touch,
the fluid transformations
of your chameleon skin
each time I draw nearer than sight.

You take me in under
your hunter’s cloak and I
vanish, leave no trace of timed
existence except the memory
of white-gloved fingerprints.

I know better than to ask,
When are we going home?

Not in any room built of our bodies
have I found the arcane fire
you alluded to in dream.

When sky shuts its medusa-eyes
I watch you sleeping
as if the innocence of each
shallow breath could return
the wisdom I’ve sacrificed to be beautiful.


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Excerpt from Somewhere to Run From, “Objects of My Affection”

Objects of My Affection

Your girlfriend’s rib cage cracks, bone against headboard, when you fuck her in my bed. In every poem she hits her head. Her small body breaks uncontrollably under your hot hand. A broken girl cannot cry. I am left here.

A tree house. Three new vines. Expired birthday balloons. Raw cane sugar. Remnants are just that: reminders. My hand is stamped with a stallion, the paper store, tiny icons remind me of you. Everything else small I Anna.

Your mouth on her makes you forget lyrics, the song you chose your name from. Makes you think about girls marked with black ink tattoos, thousands of miles down the coast. The song the radio played (the day you thought your life might be important) led to a crush on a deadly-wrong girl.

Your heart faltered over a dead dog.

When the song I loop tells me every little thing she does is magic, I think about older men and awards shows. We have an amicable conversation about pop songs and the girls who cover this one. It is stark, naked and maimed. It is also Anna. The girlfriend who still wears your bruises after three and a half years. You stole her youth, though you are the same age.

I want Anna’s health insurance, to get me through the night. Her warm whisky offerings. A prescription to cure me of her cold.


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