born bored left alone in the bleachers blonde and doe eyed the trailer parks were simple in their sorrow storm country minor parts in the corner played one song for a mother who wore her surroundings thin tearing stitches it was a clean break cellular contraction four months in solitude drinking from unsteady hands Dina holds pills steady breathing like you got somewhere else to be and it’s only desolation peaking planted like a thing unsure is it supposed to move introduce itself or scream at the wall paper can’t dance in this public housing sunlight unwatched around boxes how we never were point to the edge of the map scream! and strong men moved in me like furniture reeked but the guards knew my poetry was silent I asked to be loved not held to the floor and hands once cared what they touched ached ate food ached called on the phone what did the lawyer say what did the doctor say am I ever never crazy can I have my comb back it doesn’t cut very deep it’s all on camera they loosed me loaned me my clothes and loop I always thought you were angry and hid it for points girl said in day room but the shouting of a friend trying to die in the quiet white four wall grabbed at the big nurse he’s fatal with his eyes I knew you couldn’t make it alone needed an ally in this ward I stood with you refused to strip he waited us out we were animals to him howling I held you no names just both of us very scared today I journaled like this to reach you with my solitude bum scar I know it got worse I heard the news dead at 18 we never had a chance you were beautiful once I won’t forget… (more…)

The Eyes Dilate Larger Here
after Graham Foust’s “From a Finished Basement”

Your eyes, a hundred lightbulbs,
             throb like drugs.

But from me or the dusk?

Here we are, not
speaking in the loose way.

There is no better silence.
Here we are, not afraid.

Of what?
Are we not afraid of a kiss?
Not to kiss?

       To what
          we are not speaking of,
speak. (more…)

wet as i am

my sad morphed into a massive wave. i shoved furtive poet toward shore & swam into the deep. water slapped onto my head, pushed me under, & i saw a man yelling & dragging his pitbull puppy across the concrete. i began to sink, body porous & filled with the weight of the zombie-eyed woman sitting outside the 7-eleven; we flipped grilled cheeses together until she came to work on meth, slashed off her apron with a butcher’s knife, & ran out the back door into forever. below the surface was dark & cold & heavy as if each & every street sign bearing a former lover’s name was thrown, stacked, cross-crossed on top of me. i’ve been in therapy long enough to know eventually i’ll gasp to the surface, claw to shore, command furtive poet to stop asking if i’m okay & instead to bend me over a warm rock & fuck me as the sun returns me to a hardened sponge, to fuck me until i forget i’ve ever been as wet as i am for him right now.

I met a pimp today in Atlanta
by a broken train
flanked on either side
by creamy butterflies
pale and dark in equal measure
carrying his soul
fairies in another life
dressed in fishnet wings
adorned in opal stores
some call them thot
I think them acrobats
of love and other things
that bump a lot
switchboards for libido’s
cudgelling gust, turbulent
winds that need tending
glistening hideous human thrust
the pimp’s flies spoke
and dazzled me with tongues
that felt too pure to doubt
scared me numb, guts spilled
but thrilled to death
all in the same breath
giving me fresh supple
nervous laughter I had
been sorely lacking
ejaculating words of wonder
“Where did you come from?”
frenzied scalping thunder
like I just discovered America (more…)

I threw up again this morning.
This hasn’t happened in months, but the burn feels the same as it always does.
Last night’s sandwich spurts, then drips, out of me: a fire that runs on it’s own because my eyes are shut tight, shoving out the light.
Wish it was a hangover.
Or food poisoning.
The flu, something I could cure.

I was a senior in high school when headaches forced themselves into my daily life, when I woke up with a little bit of the night before’s food stuck to my lip because the pain secured its place again. Caused me to perish. Succumb. Stay in bed. Cry. Run to the bathroom. Vomit. Sit with my legs crossed and stretch my arms over my head. Close my eyes. Focus on the pounding. Let it create a symphony made of pain, one that played only in my ear drums.

I’d think of the the pain, feed it like an addiction.
It reminded me to feel.
Feel always.
Feel deeply. (more…)


I see everything through invisible atoms
that scrape the white brown field
and peel a roughish patch on my knee.
Schoolyard thick with spruce smoke
curling through throat dampers and open flues.
My sister and I play a game
stealing each other’s footprints

until we arrive at dried hollyhock
voodoo oranges stuck with whole cloves
satellites hanging in the window of our grandmother’s kitchen.
With the critical mass of family confessing drunk
squatted in the ash green of her living room
it is time to open my new puzzle but I do not have the tools. (more…)

Happily, we go under

By chance: the same round eyes, bony hips, cold and blue
inquisitive hands, softly angry mouth. Our heads level.

         And on me, these heavy tattoos on my back
like a vein infection. Identical calligraphic twists
across the stranger’s stomach and breasts.

Years ago, for both of us, the ritual wrapping in cellophane,
the oils. Black ink throbbing on us, and as hot as our blood.
                              Me, sleeping alone on my front for so long,
                              her, sleeping on her back, with ceiling fans,
open windows spitting their curtains in the wind.

We hate, we say, how they look on my back/
                                                                my front.

It’s not a hard decision to make. On operating tables
in a tiled room we go to sleep at the same time.

Gloves veer in close to touch us now
as smooth and pale as washed up stones.
She feels it when the anaesthetic bears down on me
with its hazy, cool insistence that we shut our eyes.
At this moment I do not think we are afraid.
          I am not thinking of scalpels at all.
               From now on we will never be apart.

When I wake up her nipples are on my chest like pink flowers
on an open casket body. They have the permanent look
of the sensitive blind eyes of someone very old. I never
imagined an embrace like this around my ribs.

The stitches are so small as to hardly be seen. My skin,
tight over her vertebrae, like an envelope for a letter
accidentally opened once, by the wrong recipient,
                                                          and then resealed.

Needles have been handled well, by the artists
who gave us our skins, and those who skinned us later.
As if we stroke the cheeks of newborn kittens (just as tender,
just as puffy-red) she touches my belly, I touch her upper back.
Whenever we look at our new bodies,
              tattoos intact and back to front,
                             it will feel like aeroplane turbulence in our guts.




The sickest platitude

I dreamed my ex boy had lost his eyes,
and skin had grown over again completely
like a sheet of crushed grey satin

and before, I had loved his clear eyes, sorrowfully.
Skin I’d kissed, grey, even (god) his hands.
His translucent bony scalp. I said:

“It looks better than the last time I saw you.”

He looked like a scabbed animal
that snatches its rare sleep up in branches
or at the backs of silent caves.
This was a disease he had, it bent his head

down like a curse. He was so tired.
He stewed in blame across the table. He said:

“No – it’s worse.”

Guilt washed me like a baby. There was nothing
I could do to help. Neither were we alone now. I said:

“Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.”

I was embarrassed for myself,
speaking a shoddy mortal language.
It felt like a bruise to the nail bed:
it stayed with me all day.



Lenni Sanders is a writer/performer in Manchester, UK. Current General Editor at Cadaverine, she makes interactive performances with Curious Things and weirdo poetry cabaret with Dead Lads. Tweets at @LenniSanders – hear some of her writing at https://lennisanders.bandcamp.com