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Phantom

Prickly back tendrils
alert me to your presence
at my bedside. I pull the blanket
up over my shoulder like a lover
after sex or kissing me
goodnight.

Have you been kept
long in the afterlife?
What have you siphoned
from dumb girls crouched
over Ouija boards, panting
and wishing for something?
Beyond

all I am, I will give you.
None of it I want anymore,
and you need all you can
because everyone you know
has died, and your memories
have been buried, dug up,
and transplanted
somewhere

nowhere near
where you remember.
My body is hot like a chamber
and trembling for the wind
you wisp over my skin
with fingers made of moonlight
and horror so real it makes me
wetter than Heaven and
hotter than
Hell.

Tonight is long, and loving
you is dark and growing
darker with each inch
the horizon takes over the sky.
If you leave before the sun,
I’ll know there is nothing
Phantastic about
you

Only something haunting
in the way you show up
like a fog to creep beneath
my blankets with nothing but death
and dirt. I hope the sounds outside
my window keep you up
with fright, so the morning
will turn you into a
Translucent

Miracle.

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Sparrow’s Medication Guide

Do not give your worries to other people, even if they have the same condition. It may harm them. Keep them in your mouth, a list under your tongue. Choose a water-soluble paper, flavored ink, let them coat your dry mouth, slide down your throat before you speak.

Tell your doctor if you taste feathers where you shouldn’t, if your shoulder blades hurt from the imperative of wings. Tell your doctor if you experience any unusual birdness of body: an abnormally fast heartbeat, flitting muscle movement, a hollowness of bones. Tell your doctor if the air around you is suddenly sweeter than anything you have ever experienced—sweeter than your first kiss with the first girl you whole-heartedly loved, sweeter than five-year-old fingers sticky with spun sugar, sweeter than the last day you woke up feeling alive. Tell your doctor if you dream of flight.

It is normal to experience side effects. To feel warfare in your blood. Remind yourself that this is for the better. That you are getting better. Write it on your skin in pastel purple, in the softest of ink. Read yourself with care. Remind yourself again. Remind yourself each time your worries are refilled.

Poem borrows language from a medication guide for sertraline hydrochloride. The second stanzagraph features a line from “Ordeal” by Nina Cassian.

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Call to Action in Translation

Find me a new story to paint
wine-dark, where they comb metaphors
instead of beaches, where the poets are not the only ones
bursting with heartache

where men do not make pigs
of themselves, both gentle and beastly,
where all the heroes come home,
and their wives do not know fear,
where the maids, virtuous in necessity
find agency in more than their adjectives.

In which swirling whirlpool does disaster lie?
All of them—
so sort out meaning
seek out new speech.

There are other shores to adventure.

Listen, they are calling
you.

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If Sappho Met Persephone

I love her more than I have poetry for.

Every time I see a pomegranate I want her
to crack open the red shell of my lips, lungs, legs,
and dig out seeds of promised fruit
that has not yet fallen to her feet,
to excavate the ventricles of my heart,
barbaric sweetness
leaving pink honeycomb hollow behind
for the ants to lap at.

I want to stay, want her to return to me like spring,
to keep her,
I recite a prayer of
I miss you, I love you, and I miss you,
please kiss me and
I wish you could kiss me now.
It’s the shuddering edge of July and it is winter without her.

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Pledge Week

We, the Sorority of the Cloven-Hoofed Foot,
are looking for girls to join us!

We do no trust falls here, no
pillow fights and promise rings, we
are immaculately pedicured, so gifted
when we speak in tongues
and sour milk with glances; we
go out at any time of night,
unafraid.

You see, being a girl, any girl, is hard,
but being a Cloven-Hoofed girl’s an art,
we don’t do high heels, but boots,
they’re easier on the hoof, we
hide the horns under hairsprayed hair,
teased and twisted to our taste, we
keep the pitchfork at the ready,
hidden under chiffon and silk and softest cotton, oh, we
are hard to say no to.

But mind when we say no, oh,
you know, we say it with curses under our tongues,
fire in our eyes, sisters at our beckoning.

Most Cloven-Hoofed sisters go far in this world, you know,
lacing their words with hellfire, their thoughts
more burning than most, and of course
it takes a certain stamina
to walk with a foot like this one, walk
anywhere, walk
everywhere
and never stop until our hearts freeze over.

So. We are recruiting. Check yourselves, girls,
you got the horns, you got the hoof, you got the hellish tongue?
Come, join as you are, and for a pledge
burn any of the fakeness that they used
to hide the horns, the hoof, the devil tongue:
lashes, push-up bras, heels, smiles, words,
apologies, denials;
girls, come. As you are.

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Past Far Gone

     Tell me about her?
     I can’t. Too much to be known.

ONE

I left my past long ago
on the backwater planet
it had grown up on, showed myself out
and left by night, locked up,
as good as threw away the key.
Didn’t have to run: there was a ship.
Old but fast enough. Hers.

Three hundred years gone,
impossible even then and still ticking.
Her face: backlit, with its faint glow
of ductile heat, warm always,
rare mineral glass shining
more translucent than bone,
its shape shifting hot beneath
a shimmering skin of fine details,
in liquid crystalline matrix.
Her body: layers of projection, meshed;
the ship’s hull; a shining bare-strut armature;
light and glass and metal, insubstantial.
I was never certain if we touched.

TWO

There are strange places in the ship
where the edges don’t meet.
She folds space around the ship,
folds the ship around us,
folds us and herself around,
around again, labyrinthine.

She folds time.

I dare and she the ship responds
with an unpolished trust.
I feel the uplink like a dream:
I walk an impossible hall and am not myself.
I see: her family memory, segmented
and kept boxed, in nodes, secure,
a long memory of memories
articulated. It is choked, squeezed down
in high-speed bursts too dense
for sluggish cells of mine to parse,
          the time
     he both and          first
by blood,     wretched      when
forget, forget, this isn’t
     they always           but
               they
alone, she deserves
     she      be never     can’t
     loved.

The link closes and the permissions lock,
the key swallowed whole.

THREE

She’s no longer the only one,
these past centuries, but of those other few
none have been around, able, to tell me.
Rumour says it has got easier.
Ease, like all things, is relative.

It will hurt still, but not for long,
not like it has done. It will hurt
but not like wrapping wires
around your tongue, your fingers,
searing shocked and bleeding
as static eats your eyes
and you are certain: this is it,
I die here, now, this way. The end.
Even as it doesn’t end, as
the pain continues beyond tolerance.
This is it, like this, desperate. It is over.
But it is still like that.

And in the moment, you are still alone.

You cannot be ready.
It does not stop. It just is
no longer the same.
At last.

ANSWERS

Take metal hands in the darkness—
no more real hands than light,
than impulse, than starship.

Reach past, past far gone.

Stroke the texture of the memories,
and fold them over, over and over,
into the blood once from veins,
into the map of once a homeworld,
into the night once empty;

fold yourself into the waiting hands
of an electroneural midwife, your own creation;
enter into recursive parentage,
unorphaned, sublimated machine.

Extend some invisible part of yourself,
some intention: stroke the particles
composing your new quantum-solid home,
vibrate its molecules
and give voice, from the resonance
of their oscillation.

Then, and only then,
touch.

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Leda’s Womb

The egg waxes, the yellow white
of moon marrow, of stretched skin,
opaque with the dull stain of life blood speckling
the outer shell, enveloping the hard white.

How many hours spent caressing
that vessel, an echoic chamber of kicking limbs
and wings. Those shuddering beings
inside that might violently breach the womb wall
in heady dissonance with their flurries
of thrash and thrust.
How many nights spent imagining wet black webs
and sharp egg teeth, multiplying heart beats.
(Too many beats and so many beaks

bent on devouring the thick orange yolk
of mother sun.)
Leda broods over the nest, battens down
the swan feathers and thick sheep wool,
pacing away the long weeks while
waiting for the inevitable hatching
of all those frenzied limbs.

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two am

Driving down the highway
at two a.m.
     I felt my heart stop
          When I looked over and saw
               Pale yellow
                    So round and full
                         Sensuous and curvy
                              My lungs gasped
                                   in awe
                                   As she stayed by
                                   my side
                                        And a peace washed over
                                             My troubled
                                             soul
                                                  She dipped into a silky black
                                                  lake
                                                       And dried herself out
                                                       among
                                                       the stars
                                                  Shimmering her pale yellowed
                                                  glory
                                             And dripping it all
                                             over me
                                        I understood why
                                        The ocean waves crashed
                                        for her
                                   Because on that lonely highway
                              I crashed for her too.

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The Metaphysics of a Wine, in Theory and Practice

whereas many more presumptuous
theories suggest an interpretive dance
in five deliberate movements (Marling &
Batmanglij 2017) or else a general physical
denial of body through writhing-as-dance
under strobe-lit dark1,
the newly discovered academic consensus is that
multidimensional transcendent astral travel
is only possible through
wining

the dancehall take me
to Heaven last night
and I wish I coulda stay

the adequate performance of gyratory sublimity
is capable of euphoric states, restoration of
stamina, and treatment of anxieties,
but at supercritical depths
a wine has the potential to bestow
near-preternatural consciousness to the
recipient (Ziggy Rankin 2004)

I wish it thought me
worthy to linger in
the light of the gates
I wish the seraph in
the purple skirt or
the archangel-boy in the tight jeans
found nobility enough in me
for the night to never cease

because in that night
God’s name in her native language
was on my hips
tempting my echo of its swaying syllabisms
never illegible
but forever unpronounceable

critical-level performance of the rite
has apocalyptic properties—
that is, both provably destructive
and with great potential to induce
prophecy

the music did hit me
and your body did catch me
and somewhere in the centre
of those competing gravities
was the cosmos in its own waistline motion
lover, your bumper bring meh back
to the first time meh mudda
call meh name…

at a terminal velocity, surviving
subjects have documented a shared
awakening, with potential to span miles
of air or sea2, lingering within the senses
as stored rhapsodic biodata, an open-circuit
physical ecstasy and a redundant
rotational climax

under closed eyes
the shadow of the world does turn bright
hot on the faces of the next world war
and warm on the hands that halt it
I done sail across the black in this wine
take large swallows from the swirling nebula of it
lust as its nucleus
opens my eyes to star-birth, star-death,
the warmth of your hot celestial body3

this euphoric quality is known to be
intensely addictive at even average
potentials, especially for men. It should however be
noted that excessive wining
can be destructive to the recipient (Machel
Montano 2012), even inducing animalistic
transformations in male recipients
(Anslem Douglas 1998). Also, coercion or other
non-consensual gyratory communions
are discouraged, not only for their
lack of energy potential, but their
ability to harm performers,
severing their connection to the
enthusiasmos; the power of the
ritual is placed firmly in the waist
of the oracle (Patrice Roberts 2014, Alison Hinds 2005)

if I could stay drowning in the syrup-sugary-smooth
sway of your silhouette ’til sunrise
God knows I would die against your body
but the Holy Spirit does only give you
the Pentecost that you could handle
so you step away with a wink
to join your crew for drinks
gates to abounding knowledge closed again

until some soca
draws them golden open
for someone luckier than
me


1. see every single American teen or new adult drama film since the 1980s
2. evidence of distance-resistant wining effects have been well documented in Japan; see ‘Japanese Wine’ (Minmi 2008), ‘Kanpai Wine’ (Barbie Japan 2009), ‘Wine For Me’ (Rudebwoy Face 2009)
3. a peculiar star rich in copper with an orbit too fast and fierce for a rock like me to not erode in its power

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Sealskinned, Crowned

I pour myself in
full and thick
like the syrup left from poaching pears
rich with cinnamon
star anise in my hair.

My skin feels odd now
misshapen from disuse
stretched and constricted
all at the same time:
a snakeskin left too long in the grass.

Still: it is time
I weave garlands of feathers
a spray of galah pink
the red-blue of a rosella.
I crown my skin with
a single tail-feather
dusk brown  kingfisher.

I have made a home here
up in the Dry
among the sway of the leaves
and rain of falling gum blossoms.

I stitch up my skin
with roughened shell shard splinters
down my sternum
until I am myself again
(my old self
but crowned with birds).

I slip into the sea
with a wave roar
and am flooded, familiar.
And until the next time
when the skies call
bright and hard
and I long for the whispers between
the trees,
I will leave feathers on the ocean
and star anise on the sand.