black pearls on a string
when young lustrous
men dazzle yet frighten us
for many our first encounters a plundering
black pearls on a string
The tongue is lost—now blood pools
in her mouth. Her maid stops the wound
with a tampon, split down the middle
like some carpenter’s unlucky thumb.
we only remember
the bad things
that happen to us
This is the part of the story about my first time getting wasted that most don’t hear
A trace of her hair tucked away, his skin
beneath her nails. Each square reminded him
of hopscotch. Her head like a tetherball. What kind
entitled little shits
With her new magic, she makes you
We, women, grew hungry, ate
from a pile of unassuming, pleasant rocks. They fell
down our throats, slipped into the blankness of our bodies.
This is a game for girls: putting a hat
on the cat, putting pants on
the cat, drawing a turkey by tracing
her hand. Little girls like cats.
I don’t remember much
of the train, but I remember William
who gave me his engraved
penknife at the station
When I finish my first book,
I wonder who'll blurb the
my father landed
upside my head.
“An unforgettable voice
When I finally told you that my first boyfriend
raped me, I was worried you would be mad
I’ve heard there is a room where hooded
women enter, writing dates on the wall
with the torn edge of their finger. I’ve heard
you can cipher the numbers to bodies, to
the graceless edge of some men’s beds. Is
Fear the caging of birds. Strangled and brown.
Moving here was like crossing a river,
debriefings, scaling back. Clay pots clogged,
awkward like an ingrown hair, browning down
in the sun. Staring at walls draws a crowd,
like a hardened nipple, a tear-streaked thigh.
I shed my pelt on the shoreline,
leaving the warmth of the
glossy grey coat to shiver
and head for land.
My mother in a rental van
idling in the Phoenix Airport parkade.
She does a word search, finds “tongue” “bitter”
“cochlea” lets a ballpoint pen tell her of her own
body. I tap the van window, see her face
for the first time in months. It’s been too hot,
The first time, you walk into the night and think,
This January wind is like death. Then you laugh at
the idea that wind can kill
in a city where asphalt is streaked with long
stripes of blood or shit or mud.
he traces the tattoo
of Africa on my back
tells me how he wants
to go back to Sierra Leone
i am the flower that grows out of the cliffside
overhanging the lake on thin soil
birthed by lichen that digested rocks
that i might bloom in her body
We were born beneath the water
in the darkest depths of the lake
We rise, our hooves rumbling
spewing lake water, muzzles dripping
Currently on Newsstands
Room 41.4, Emergence
Edited by Alissa McArthur
In this issue:
Tharuna Abbu, Farah Ali, Kristin Bjornerud, Michelle Chen, Nomi Chi, Morgan Christie, Kim Fu, Hannah Graff, nancy viva davis halifax, Ceilidh Isadore, Liz Kellebrew, Jo Lee, Kris Ly, Melanie Mah, Sara Mang, Katie McGarry, Estlin McPhee, Triin Paja, Loghan Paylor, Nagmeh Phelan, Oubah Osman, Lisa Rawn, Yvonne Robertson, Erika Thorkelson, Cara Waterfall.