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



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.

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…)


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…)

The electron looks like it wants you. Nothing flashes desire
like acrobatic ambivalence. Like irreconcilable cleavage.

You want an unfailing confusion, honest against you in bed. Not your
other half. Your inmost mosaic, your micro shatterings. Not a mirror.
An atom’s latticed window. Through it,
a tiny bird flying in every direction at once.

You send the electron an advance. Tell yourself it must be real,
it must be real, to account for missing
momentum, missing energy. (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


A Poem Is a Binding Spell

First, fall headfirst into a hole that is
so perfectly fitted to your heart that
you will never again be free of it.
Always have your tools with you.
Never let a moment go without a glance.

Roll in the scent like a pack of dogs and
carry it back to your den.

Take that rare color, the gem of a sound,
the shoes that you noticed side by side in
the grass, the feel of the tube down your throat,
and smear them on paper as fast as you can.
Don’t think. See without eyes. (more…)