after Dorothea Tanning; for Andrew Rihn
Were it that I not fit for decorum, here I am anyway,
perfumed like a manic episode, forever shrieking on
your lawn. My savior, my black pyramid. Whatever good
is left, let us hear it: a fire of nothing but kindling. To
brave the color of our year. To birth its closure. Hello.
I cannot say what a human is and even so, I would not be one: You who guard against decay with your photographs. I loved a woman once, whatever you call her — she wore darkness, brought me things. I could not say so, and here you are, stepping on me when all I want is to be warm and left alone. You broke me into this mite-ridden skin, these pearls of mine you strangle yourself with. It is not for you to love what I am. The tattoo of my kind is our waste, the skin in a dream you peel from yourself. Keep being big. Let us have this planet and laugh.
the bits of Kleenex that lodge
in your eyes when you sneeze.
the scratch in your chest after
the cold was meant to be over.
wool sweaters. contact lenses.
your husband on top of a woman
who wants you to die. your dog
laid out on a metal table. 1997.
the screaming that always is in
the background of someone’s
VHS tape of a birthday party.
the screaming that always is.
Donora A. Rihn is the author of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: An Election Cycle (with Andrew Rihn; Moria Books/Locofo Chaps, 2017), a poetry chapbook that was sent to the White House to protest the first 100 days of the presidency of Donald Trump. She is also the author of Jeff Bridges (Cobalt Press, 2016), The Plagiarist (NEA, 2015), The Aphasia Poems (S▲L, 2014), and several other works of poetry and theory. Rihn’s work often appears in Hint Fiction (W.W. Norton & Company), Pedagogy, Women in Clothes (Penguin Random House), and other anthologies and journals, and she frequently performs her work across the United States. She lives in a tiny house in the Portage Lakes area with her husband and their two rescue dogs.