If this is the way the world works,
until you find what needs to be here,
because it’s not me.
I am blood and milk.
I am a bowl of each.
I am burning
I am the river separating two cities.
I am a star in the heart of darkness.
I am a cat who licks its paws.
Strings stretched across an expanse,
tuning and writhing like
Scratches down your back in the morning.
A path is just a line in the dirt,
a red mark down your spine,
a string pulled across the universe.
a bridge going one way.
If this is the way the world works,
A man walks into a cafe
and writes a piece of music so beautiful
he forgets everything he knows.
Like the son who he hasn’t spoken to in 6 years,
and the bruise around the waitress’ eye,
and how uncomfortable he feels inside of his body.
And there is no cafe,
and there is no man.
Only the music.
A magic song,
when played he can remember things;
the first time he tasted an orange
and the smell of his mother’s perfume
while she held him as a baby,
and he knows things, too,
things he shouldn’t be able to,
like how his son dreams about wolves almost every night,
and the waitress is still in love despite her husband’s fists,
and that his body is like a shell that the crab wears
and there is only
the music, the music, the music.
by Amanda La Valley
Portrait of a Woman Who has Solved Her Childhood Traumas
I’m writing a book of love poetry,
a complete volume set about
how you look in the middle of the night
when I wake up to roll over.
Also, I am a werewolf.
I grow claws and fangs and
a need arises in me so poignant I could cry,
like you do when you listen to Tchaikovsky
or speak to your mother on the telephone.
I must resist the urge to bite you in bed,
but you are so soft and wanting,
I am sure there is not a word
for the kind of giving that you are.
Some would call it selfless,
but maybe we’re just lonely.
Maybe we give each other
a space to fill with our emptiness.
I am not so good at eating,
I am too full of your need.
You ask me over cups of weak tea
what its like to be a slave to the moon
but I think of myself
more as a warrior in her service,
I am sworn to love her.
Tell me the story about you as a little girl,
how you drew the most beautiful woman in the world
and named her Morning.
How she never came for you,
even though you could already feel her arms around you.
How you put down the paintbrushes,
the knives, the half smoked cigarettes,
the apples and pears and jagged pieces of glass.
Tell me how you make the crickets sing,
how you rest your elbows on your knees.
Tell me the story of how I was born in the desert,
How you laid on your left side for 6 months while you grew me
and maybe that’s why my heart is always hurting.
Tell me how you learned to hide
behind more masks than eye glasses and bed sheets.
Tell me the story of how you became my mother,
the one who gives everything she has,
and even things she does not have.
How once you thought that admirable,
but now it is a burden you bear upon your back,
a burden you bear upon my back.
When teleportation is invented,
it will be by a lover
who was separated
from his other.
I could feel my heartbeat in the skin of my back
the first time you laid me on your couch.
Like an envelope,
you sealed me with tongue and heat.
You created me,
then sent me away.
I am 21 and your fingers are poems
I have spent a very long time trying to write.
First draft, second draft, third draft.
I marry the fourth.
My dress is the color of revenge.
Our rings are knives and my eyes are feathers.
My stomach hurts if I think about you too long,
a clenching, a pulse low in my belly,
the same spot a baby grows in.
My mother tells me you should know,
so here I am,
telling you the only way I learned how.
Death takes many forms
but perhaps the cruelest is
just a little girl.
My poems are a shard of obsidian
the first human used to make the first knife.
My poems are the first eyelash that dislodged and floated,
featherlike, to the ground;
the first wish ever made.
I wonder what it was.
A flash of lightning in the distance
and a child thought:
‘I wish to know this closer.’
Or danger impending and a man,
or maybe a boy:
‘I wish to disappear.’
or a mother who kept her son’s bones:
‘I wish to grow his flesh again.’
or a drop of blood,
freed through a cut upon the tip of the index finger
touching air for the first time:
‘I wish to be trapped again.’
I think the first wish ever made was a poet,
longing to describe the sky.
think of me as a siren,
hair billowing around me in the wind
as if I am underwater,
face twisting in a scream,
beaks and feathers.
think of me as an apple,
tart and sweet and lithe upon your tongue.
juice in your veins,
a piece between your teeth,
think of me as numbers,
black symbols on a page,
stamps of lines,
I want to be something you never understood.