Do you remember when we met
in Gomorrah? When you were still beardless,
and I would oil my hair in the lamp light before seeing
you, when we were young, and blushed with youth
like bruised fruit. Did we care then
what our neighbours did
in the dark?

When our first daughter was born
on the River Jordan, when our second
cracked her pink head from my body
like a promise, did we worry
what our friends might be
doing with their tongues?

What new crevices they found
to lick love into or strange flesh
to push pleasure from, when we
called them Sodomites then,
all we meant by it
was neighbour.

When the angels told us to run
from the city, I went with you,
but even the angels knew
that women always look back.
Let me describe for you, Lot,
what your city looked like burning
since you never turned around to see it.

Sulphur ran its sticky fingers over the skin
of our countrymen. It smelled like burning hair
and rancid eggs. I watched as our friends pulled
chunks of brimstone from their faces. Is any form
of loving this indecent?

Cover your eyes tight,
husband, until you see stars, convince
yourself you are looking at Heaven.

Because any man weak enough to hide his eyes while his neighbours
are punished for the way they love deserves a vengeful god.

I would say these things to you now, Lot,
but an ocean has dried itself on my tongue.
So instead I will stand here, while my body blows itself
grain by grain back over the Land of Canaan.
I will stand here
and I will watch you
run.

Karen Finneyfrock

Want

September 17, 2019

She wants a house full of cups and the ghosts
of last century’s lesbians; I want a spotless
apartment, a fast computer. She wants a woodstove,
three cords of ash, an axe; I want
a clean gas flame. She wants a row of jars:
oats, coriander, thick green oil;
I want nothing to store. She wants pomanders,
linens, baby quilts, scrapbooks. She wants Wellesley
reunions. I want gleaming floorboards, the river’s
reflection. She wants shrimp and sweat and salt;
she wants chocolate. I want a raku bowl,
steam rising from rice. She wants goats,
chickens, children. Feeding and weeping. I want
wind from the river freshening cleared rooms.
She wants birthdays, theatres, flags, peonies.
I want words like lasers. She wants a mother’s
tenderness. Touch ancient as the river.
I want a woman’s wit swift as a fox.
She’s in her city, meeting
her deadline; I’m in my mill village out late
with the dog, listening to the pinging wind bells, thinking
of the twelve years of wanting, apart and together.
We’ve kissed all weekend; we want
to drive the hundred miles and try it again.

Joan Larkin

Two creatures fly silent between the still stones;
heads back, eyes wide, hooves touching down madly, surely,
swifter than the wind or death, who hunts them,
tail twitching, nose to the earth.

Kathryn Atwood

Cherry Boy

September 15, 2019

you still ask me why i used to
pin down your arms whenever
we made love –
why i never let you control
the way we moved.
it was because i knew i was
something you did in secret.
the thing that made you flush scarlet whenever
your mother asked you about the cherry
coloured bruises running down your
neck like an aching riverbed.
‘imagine you meet the girl of your dreams
and she sees that?’ she’d say.
see. i knew what i was. of course i did.
and i couldn’t stand it.
i didn’t want it.
so whenever you ask me that question again,
print this answer into your neck too:
i did not want to be your bad habit –
i wanted to be your only habit. ❞

Salma Deera,

For Diane

September 15, 2019

Diane
your buttocks
fill my
hands
while your tongue
greets mine
seeking…

Gone

September 15, 2019

THE last, late guest
To the gate we followed;
Goodbye – and the rest
The night-wind swallowed.

House, garden, street,
Lay tenfold gloomy,
Where accents sweet
Had made music to me.

It was but a feast
With the dark coming on;
She was but a guest –
And now, she is gone.

Henrik Ibsen

Someone to

September 15, 2019

I just want someone to grab my tits and tell me I’m pretty.
Actual words I saw on instagram.
Let’s break that statement down.
Someone to grab my tits
And by that I mean
Someone to love me so much they can’t keep their hands off of me
And by that I mean
Someone to want me or at least tell me that they do
And by that I mean
Someone to make me believe that I am worth a fuck
Even if that is all I am worth.
We break girls down into pretty girls and smart girls as if they are mutually exclusive.
Movies brandish the before and after of makeovers so much we can’t help
Glancing in the mirror and only ever seeing ourselves as a before.
So I will drag myself out of bed
Thirty minutes earlier
So I can paint concealer under my eyes (to hide the purple circles)
And onto my chin (to eliminate that red shine that makes it stick out)
And all over my nose (so I don’t look like rudolf when I scratch it and my sensitive skin acts up)
To coat my blonde lashes with layer after layer of ebony paint (to keep me from looking like a sick victorian child)
I will drag myself out of bed
Ten minutes earlier
To try on one outfit (But not that one, it makes my stomach look huge)
To try on two outfits (But not that one, it makes my breasts look smaller than they already are)
To try on three outfits (But not that one, six people told me it looks slutty)
To try on four outfits (Just throw on a hoodie, but that’s the only time you can wear it this week.)
And sometimes?
Three hours earlier
To cry over that assignment I can’t figure out
And to comb through the pages of my backbreaking book for an answer to a problem I’ll never need
To wonder if maybe gagging myself until bile rises in my throat
Until an empty stomach burns in my nose and the nausea hits me like a punch in the everywhere.
Would be easier than going to school
But no one sees that.
They only see me
Fixing my makeup up in bathroom mirror before lunch
And so they throw words as hard as they can
They aim for my heart, using every colourful hallway adjective they’ve heard
Or maybe the words the voice inside calls them
I’d be lying if I said that these words that didn’t haunt me
and follow me
And effect my every action
But I refuse to let them know that
I refuse to let them drag me down simply because they cannot fly
If I’m going to be an Icarus, fucking that’s a good way to go.
fucking, that’s a way to be remembered.
Even if I’m a cautionary tale, at least I got to see the sun.
If you call me a try hard I will say maybe you’re just not trying hard enough
If you call me high maintenance, I will say that it’s better than looking like you.
But when I express how much this hurts to my friend, he pulls a movie Ron Weasley and says
“Well, it’s kinda right.” and proceeds to make fun of me for doing my best
For those sleepless nights kept awake by the light of my laptop.
For shoving a toothbrush up my throat and hating myself for not being able to go through with it.
For raising my hand when the teacher holds up the tightrope I teetered along.
For trying.
I just want someone to tell me I’m pretty.
I just wish I didn’t need someone to tell me I’m pretty.

Kateasz

Sunday Morning Socialising

September 15, 2019

I wonder why
I always discover too late
What could have been wonderful

I Feel Drunk All The Time

September 14, 2019

Jesus it’s beautiful!
Great mother of big apples it is a pretty
World!
You’re a bastard Mr. Death
And I wish you didn’t have no look-in here.
I don’t know how the rest of you feel,
But I feel drunk all the time
And I wish to hell we didn’t have to die.
O you’re a merry bastard Mr. Death
And I wish you didn’t have no hand in this game
Because it’s too damn beautiful for anybody to die.

Kenneth Patchen

This Photograph of Me

September 13, 2019

It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion

but if you look long enough,
eventually
you will be able to see me.)

Margaret Atwood