Reiteration

My mother is an assembly line of mirrors: my too borderless hair, my two-handful hips, all the parts the mannequin would not hold. If you subtract one mother, how many are left? This problem is called adoption. My mother is a locked file cabinet. No, my mother is the one who put my mother inside […]

I Wasn’t One & Pressing Comb

I Wasn’t One (Inspired by Yehuda Amichai) I wasn’t one of the stolen. I wasn’t one of the many million who had once only known the sweetness of the sea. I wasn’t confused cargo stacked like the bricks of Babel in the belly of a wooden beast. I wasn’t shackled to my skin, forgotten in […]

Pacific hypergirls go strut

Whispered messages dissolve in rivers of attention and glances A long sigh exhales through the valley to Kaipara-moana Molecules of sound emanate from luminous branches A syntax of yellow leaves on black trees Filaments of falling marked by fluid silvery drops Accurate shapes, incarnate wairua exclamations Hallucinations of glamorous echoing veils Silky clay nostalgias, transgressions […]

You Steal the Butcher Knife

because you were never more than hands to boil the deer skulls, a tongue to lick the blood that dried between the creases of his knuckles. Just bones to grip and flesh to fuck on whiskey nights when his apartment stank of you. Only a bale of wheat left out in late November frost. You […]

Notes on an Empty Sky

—for James Fuson (20 Years Reflections of an Empty Sky, Soft Sculpture Press, 2014) from a prison cell window seven inches of rectangular blue sometimes gray or black, but no stars the spotlights too glaring once a month the setting moon before dawn he stares pencil moves—tiny scratching of the mouse’s scurrying feet in the […]

Orchard Burning

This is the tree I had my first kiss—it was like a viewing, gory and wet. Classmates in almond branches, watching the wreck. Doing nothing to feign casualty. This is the water tower I’ve told you of many times. Yes, it was the drinking supply I swam in, naked. Yes. I got a thrill, at […]

Journey to Iraq 1 (I try to visit in my dreams and am stopped on the tarmac)

in the dream that got me fired The plane was just a stomach, really. I said, “eat me” It insisted on retching and language was like dry bread cu-clut-clawing at my throat. clog glug we could just say it was the fault of the Security Clearance, oh that agency is in the blood now, lineage […]

The First Checkup After My Mother Died

The doctor noticed me fidgeting with my ears like a toddler, and asked if he could look at them. Yes, I told him, they had been bothering me, and I didn’t know why. After the examination, he asked if I had been through something traumatic recently— a breakup, or a loss of a job. Yes, […]

Swallow / Swallowed / Swallowing & Masturbating to Greek Myths

Swallow / Swallowed / Swallowing swal·low | noun 1. a small oscine bird with a short bill, long pointed wings, & a deeply forked tail, which feeds on insects caught on the wing. swal·low | verb 1.  to take or receive through the mouth & esophagus into the stomach. 2.  to accept without question, protest, […]

Out Along Rt. 154

Out where the streams etch away from Devil’s Head, out of the bear’s coarse fur, shot in the back over in the bushes in hours before dawn when we were afraid of the wounded, afraid of this shape pulled down from the stars, when we were neighbors on the road to Harmony, up late every […]

The Hunted & The Haunted

Visiting into the night, a dog found a buck sprawled onto the back porch of her home, lung pierced and bubbling a thick stripe onto its side. A creature of this type usually dies in the woods. Something about the leaves: they dance a soul to sleep. Yet, somehow, this hulk of hide had found […]

Kibitzing

There must be a Yiddish word for the birds chittering in the bare bushes ablaze with the life of their voices; though their bodies blend with branches their voices belie nothing. My mother’s of course    I will         I want        sew themselves through the fabric of       […]

Inner City with Father

In our last conversation, he sat
on a milk crate, held the unlit

cigarette like a fountain pen,
and kept tapping the filter against

his weak heart. …

Venezuela

in the 1960s The name itself is a kingdom brambled over in exotics, where fish & birds read like orchids, and an oil-flat sea’s gone dull beside a land possessed of its own drumbeat—fist to heart, a howled & primal green. After all, Amazon sounds more tribal than rivered. Venezuela, its new language an assignation […]

Ripen

Tree branches sneak into my mouth errant like Christmas lights strung across a house in July, skies embrace and push — suffocate the world’s radiant lusciousness.  Leaves on the sidewalk thrum and this is where I want to share a bit of death every day, peeling strips of joy from branches that are about to […]

Porches

My wife asks me to leave the porch light on before bed. I ask if we are expecting guests; she says it’s to keep them away. There was a time a flame in a window was a welcome mat, a compass in the dark. Tradition has a way of unraveling the longer it lasts. Think candles […]

Aubade in Los Angeles

August 1981, and someone’s killing

couples from Santa Barbara
to Sacramento. A woman called Linda

sits with her boyfriend

beneath the buzz of a motel sign
drinking coffee in the yawning summer.

This is the year they drove the Pacific coast
through towns where men lay hobbled,

Durling Avenue

Summer in its simplest colors comes over Durling Avenue. The sweetest invitations come understated, the girl in the yard barely lifts her eyebrows, the boy shrugs his shoulders as if to say I’ve been waiting, I can wait. All we’re asked to do is recognize the beckoning—the grass splashed brown that will be cut by […]

Alternate Ending with Beach House

This is what I wanted: ++++++++++++++++mug full of coffee each morning ++++++++++++++++and a walk to the ocean. Wind blowing sand ++++++++++++++++into the curtain hems of your parents’ beach house where we wouldn’t pay rent and you’d reprise your role as the good son who spent the six months before I met you there, sober, fixing […]

The Only Star

Rolled up in my sheets, marinating in nervous sweat, +++++brain a flipbook: speed-painted images, words, phrases like ticker tape rolling on & on. I watch the crescent moon steadily sheathe its blade edge in a neighbor’s chimney. +++++Alarm clock says “4 AM.” +++++Hypothalamus says “Fuck this.” If I got out of bed now, I’d be […]

Elegy for Sylvia

Stripped down to nothing in the dirty river, my skin sheaved like silk from corn. The things I did not say grew malignant in my body. A cancer of words & the sickness that spreads from the inside out. By thirteen, I tasted like war, skin of wrought-iron & chrysanthemum seeds. The snowstorm girl who […]

Black Sun, 1935

Levee workers, Plaquemines parish, Louisiana Fourteen Negroes wheel barrows along narrow planks laid over mud. They build a levee to prevent flooding of land they’ll never own. Fearing bites of cottonmouths, copperheads, and diamondbacks, they sweat in humid bayou heat. Arrayed along a nearby ridge, four white overseers look on in the shadow of a […]

Instructions for Daughters

Pack sackcloth and ashes in your carry-on. Bring pens, your toothbrush, a good skirt, and a magazine you will not read. At the terminal, do not flinch at his diminishment. You are not strong enough to support the weight of his grief. You will support it. Accept tasks before coffee, urgencies colliding, lists so long […]

The Chicken with a Broken Beak

I want to be the chicken in the front seat of that Cadillac driving down Route 11. The chicken that reaches for the steering wheel when there’s another chicken in the road. The chicken that changes a flat tire and the chicken that doesn’t get beat up for loving other chickens. I want to be […]

Fat Tuesday in Samsara

Women gathered round the float like the waters of the night— nurses, pirates, schoolgirls in plaid—and they lifted shirts to necks and their breasts bobbed up and down. Beads of prayer fell upon them and hit their heads and throats and hearts. The women dropped to their knees to collect them—holy objects on sullied ground— […]

Logic

The child sits by an open window, watches rain bounce off red clay while Rufous-sided towhees wait out the storm, grip tangled limbs of azaleas. She hears wind tear through leaves, smells rain as it pounds the earth. ++++++++++Slowly, she picks up scissors, cuts off each finger from her only doll. The child talks to […]

Dearth

Audrey T. Carroll is a Queens, NYC native whose obsessions include kittens, coffee, Supernatural, Buffy, and the Rooster Teeth community. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Fiction International, So to Speak, Feminine Inquiry, the A3 Review, and others. Her poetry collection, Queen of Pentacles, is forthcoming from Choose the Sword Press. She […]

Matriarchal

We wake again pleading for the last time, a forked tongue once lost between planetary failures. Their rotation had become dangerous like birthing hips on the move, either circled in naked light, or coiling an orbit around the throat of some dark diviner’s rabbit. Anti-gravity had taken its unsteered toll, the air having long been […]

To Hildegard

The tenth child, your parents gave you to the church as tithe; I don’t know if I would do the same had I ten, twenty, a hundred to my name. In our church, the young families have begun to foster local children, taken from mothers who are high, forgetful, taken from days spent strapped in […]

Aturdido

There is a black and white photo of El Capitolio on the wall of Abuelo’s house. Its icy frame catches the golden dust in the kitchen air, appearing Pardo. There is no such term in English. He tells me of the colors like a dream. Suddenly, I am ten again, learning Spanish and shame, drowning. […]