rough cuffed corduroy pants
flaking scraping lips that hear your [sugar crisp snap] inside your head
she has a cowboy hat and you want straw tickling your ears
crunch crack crumble leaves take hours to wheedle out from needle pricks
you [warp alone] inside the doorknob that day
confused like the thrill of billowing pillows smothering your spills
dinosaur belly skin peels back inside plastic castles with friendly bone stairs
all your friends went to Disney World to drench bats in whipped cream
you crouched inside [tangerine eggs] buried in the moist dirt of saccharine jungles
two too to
you were always good at grammar
you’ve pulsated the ink blots beneath salt-warped skin but
the billowing of your lungs is crumbled by the tattoo throb
that pelts words at a sideways skyline
spindles of mesh coat the webs between your intestines.
Layers shatter and shred and flicker through your wrists
This is the year you begin looping silver snakes around your neck, and
you wake up with their tongues’ imprints carved into your collarbone
You struggle against knotted smoke
your doctor tells you not to let your shoulders become monkey’s fists.
you ignore her, shrivel to weave some tendons
Into a sword that slashes ink through iridescent oceans.
Allow the snakes to trickle from your neck into your nostrils.
they will nestle inside the crevices of your blood;
They will bid you relax relax relax ax ax axax.
When your echoes become leaden, they will chime from beneath the taut leather of your eardrums.
The ink blots swirl like oil in the gutter,
Then stack Mondrians across your irises.
You can’t snatch poetry so easily anymore.
It wisps through your fingers, tickling the crescents of your nails,
Then winds through the wicker of your chair
Or slips underneath the soles of your Vans just before they scrape against concrete.
It flits into your head more often, though --
Perpetually glistening beneath a warped veil of water.
But glass is a liquid, and
Your Creative Writing teacher says that you write poems like a novelist --
Painstakingly coiffed, and drenched in hairspray.
Try to tie cherry stems together with your tongue. Choke on them instead.
Cower from nose tubes, and vow never to eat greasy cauliflower again.
Plunge your arm into your throat and gouge out your tonsils.
Your pliers sleep, dusty, next to the garish translucence of your beads.
Glass is a liquid — did you know that?
You’re gone now, you know.
You’re a British greaser who’s a corn husk stuffed with anger.
When someone drains that anger, she’ll realize that somewhere between London and Ashbrook,
She got hollowed out.
You’re an Indian dalit whose self-loathing is both his ax and his cow carcass.
He can’t decide which one he wants more. He would never admit it to someone like you,
But he’d rather scrap the loathing and just revel in the ax.
You’re a Crusades victim who’s too exhausted to protest the way you’ve defined her.
The alone feeling has submerged her, and you haven’t realized it, but she gulped in too much water
Before her story started. Her lungs are jelly ghosts.
Glass is a liquid. You’ve mentioned that a few times already.
You used to be different.
But then you started draining yourself into your computer keys,
Wringing your skin of iridescence, watching it seep into the mass of plastic and metal and desperation --
To hell with water damage.
You used to write yourself into your stories.
Now they write you.
Offer yourself upon the altar of public opinion;
Bare your patchwork puzzle to the sun’s judgmental smirk.
Don’t pick at the threads tugging your skin together.
When poetry trickles out of your seams,
Press your palm to them quickly and force the words to seep back in.
Lock your ribcage-gate and chain the last drops inside your chest.
Allow them to flow into glass.
This collection won a Silver Key in the 2017 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.