SONNENIZIO ON A LINE FROM NERUDA
Girl with the feet of the needy, accustomed to stones,
girl with the thirst of a river, canyon-deep,
troublesome, the way, it seems, only a girl can be.
I grow drunk on my need to call something beautiful
until I believe it. I have not been a good girl. I have kissed
my way up to the glass casing of my inevitability. A wall
of palms, pressed and paling against what hunger
they cannot claim. I have not been a good girl. I don’t care
what ire fattens the stones. I risk fragmentation,
girl with graves dancing at her feet. Let me not be afraid
of sweetness when it crawls to me with my name in its teeth,
needy little thing. I have only ever been a good girl
if good means freckled with pleasure, means taking
the world in my mouth, and swallowing what I must to keep it.
THE HEROINE KNOWS A FORESHADOW WHEN SHE SEES IT
Halfway through the second date,
he explains how I ooze sexuality.
He explains how I should just be
myself instead of quiet
and when I tell him quiet is me,
he explains how he can fix it with a shot
of whiskey. He waits
until the blaze in my throat settles
into smoke before he takes aim
at its delicate slope, a skilled hunter—
I know the kind, churning liquor into a blind.
He leans across the barstool, bites down,
his breath lead-quick
as he explains just what he could do to me
in bed, explains that’s just how he is. He is
an echo chamber and I am the sound
rattling around which he mistakes for his own
name. Two-thirds of the way through
the second date he explains how he embraced
his rape fantasy—well no, not his, this time,
this one always someone else’s and isn’t he
kind to oblige. All this from the muzzle
that minutes ago pressed to my neck
to convince my body of his body,
its wet ring a scorch mark, a round burning
room with no exit. The verb to chamber
is to put the bullet in. Is this why
in some other contortion chamber serves
as another word for bedroom?
He explains he had to take a shot at it
as I verb every way I can away from him.
My body is done being chambered
at the end of dates that then never end
for me, not fully. I bullet into the early night air
before the third act can circle back to the rifle
on the wall, before another man’s hands
fulfill the promise of a trigger.
50 WAYS TO SAY GOODBYE
Driving home along the coastline
the catchy song comes on the radio:
the man’s been left by his love
and, pride-stung, devises elaborate lies
to tell his friends instead how she died.
The water on my right is blue as a body
and pierced through with restless bouts
of light. The song pricks my skin
even after I’ve changed the station
and I’m left in a deathlike silence
to concentrate on getting home safely
where someone no longer waits for me
because right now, in cars across the county,
countless people are singing cheerily along
to the commonplace refrain: it’s more acceptable
for a man to kill off a woman
than be rejected by one.