The Modern Amazon

My thigh is touching the thigh
of the guy next to me
I’m staring at my Best Subway Read
to let him (and everyone)
know that I don’t notice it.
I am noticing it. I can’t tell
if he’s pressing into me on purpose.
I can pretend that I’m not
thinking about holding my ground,
fighting on behalf of all womankind
encroached upon by a man’s flaring thighs.

I shrug my purse further onto my shoulder
in the same way one would hoist a spear.
The girl next to me is texting about someone
putting their dick in her face on the subway,
again. My urge to hug her is entirely
inappropriate. I imagine hurling my body
over hers, a human shield like in movies,
the two of us holding fast in a flood of men.

This fight is more important to me
than the idea that some guy
might wonder if I’m pressing my thigh
into his thigh on purpose.

 

 

Salt Deficient

I dream that I tattoo the insides of my ears by hand.
Before they heal I tip my head to the side
and dump hydrogen peroxide on my new blood.
My ears subsequently burst into flames. I don’t
put the fires out because my organs are crystallizing.
My tongue becomes a block of salt. There is no good
way to interpret dreams about ears, according to Google.

I become paralyzed by the taste of salt. I eat bland food
hoping my diet will beget bland dreams. I stop being able
to turn my head as the moisture is sucked from me.
When I dreamt, I would wiggle my toes to wake myself up;
the person who taught me this also fractured my jaw.
There is no good way to interpret that, either.

 

 

Ziggy Stardust is Dead

Okay suppose we are together
and I’m drinking nervously.
If it’s dire you’ll know because
I’ll have a plastic bottle of Jack Honey
in my Longchamps bag.

It’s waterproof canvas
after all – and to the woman
in Nordstrom who told me that
the more expensive one is the one
everyone gets when I asked medium
or large do you think medium is fine
because I don’t carry that much stuff? –
I am sorry about whatever happened
to make you need to hustle your own
kind and I am sorry that I was so sad
that I came in here to buy a new purse.

You and I can stop to pour one out into the slush.
“Come and meet us.”

Stand on Houston and look up
at him, winter sky, come down
and blow your mind.

 


 

Catherine Chambers is an Asian-American mermaid living in Texas with her dog, Bob Dylan. She is currently completing her MFA at the University of Southern Maine and edits Poets Resist for Glass: A Journal of Poetry.

Twitter: @CatChamberz

 

 

4/27/17

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.
(more…)

dream sequence I

these nightmares don’t behave as they used to / sometimes they get up and walk around the room / sometimes they stretch out, do little jumping jacks in the corner / sometimes they ask politely to use the restroom // on sundays they wake up adjacent / kiss the cheek/ slip downstairs and make themselves coffee. sometimes, sadness as breath / sadness as jackals / smiling with teeth like soil / walking upright / hunting with spears like men / telling their children lullabies at nighttime / and losing sleep over rent. (more…)

Shemira

When you said we each choose our own death I asked your ghost
to guide me. Among your abandoned drafts: silence and spaces,
the height of the flame, the torn page, blood under the words.
When the wound was cauterized, you painted your lips around it.
I’m talking to you, Clarice.
And I will keep your secrets, everyone else’s on top of my own.
I won’t speak of the spells you cast, how in the dark
you’d search for the words that would steal something
back from the dead. And those parts of yourself
you thought were dead. The lives you could’ve lived.
Husbands never understand words like yours, or gods,
or bodies. How the name you were given,
one I’ve been called before and in anger,
was buried behind others until you were.
Twice forged of mutable fire, under a new moon
and planets laid down like stones on a grave.
How many marks of erasure, how many pages you let burn.
I’m with you now. The moon’s in your sign again.
Full just past dawn, and my body will rise to meet it.
Do you write the story of decay or does it write you.
Did you cause more harm with your hands or your mouth.
Like you I longed for silence but someone always near,
someone there to weigh each breath. Your ghost was me
called by another name. Like you I was a night person. (more…)