I build a revolution
in my bedroom
every time I masturbate.
My own body conspires
to assassinate both
my rebel hands.
what I do, my history
still tells itself wrong.
My lips shape both
freedom songs, but
I still have sex like
the dogs won’t bite if you
have your church shoes on,
like black Grandmas didn’t
keep all their shotguns
up underneath a mattress.
The Split Rock Prays to Whatever Broke It
Rage is not to be avoided, diminished, belittled. Rage is God. Better believe my rage is seeped in love.” -Shira Erlichman
Let my anger be warm and ripe with love.
Let it reek of car crashes that we have all survived.
Let it breathe. Let it dance in my fists.
Let it collapse drunk and merry
across my knees, my bedspread.
Let my anger be a thick, bubbling bath
and the cool towel by the windowsill.
Let my anger stretch into a generous wingspan.
Let it be a split rock, a steady hammer,
a plank of wood that still remembers the whole tree.
Let it sweeten the milk, turn the mug steaming
hot against the freezing chatter in my teeth.
Let it be thick thick as a St. Louis summer.
Let it be thick and just as full of memory
and just as full of arched backs stretching the tired
out of their spines, and just as full of black,
and just as full of blues.
Let my anger be the city of St. Louis, fresh-faced,
looking in the mirror at all its pimples and stretch marks,
looking at all its hard beauty that belongs to itself only,
calling up Detroit, calling up Philly and all those cities saying,
Baby, let’s all go dancing. Let’s roll our windows down and sing.
Bring all your busted windows and overgrown lawns
and new coffee shops we can’t afford and the schools
closing or not and the baked empty lots and cellulite sidewalks
and bring all your dead musicians and we’ll make a night of it.
Let my anger be the celebration we were never
supposed to have because we were never
supposed to know we had anything
Things I Should Say to Myself in the Mirror or Things I Would Say to the City of St. Louis If It Could Hear Me
I’ve been planning
to leave you for years.
It began as a quiet urging
in the bottom of my heels
and now I dream
only of highways.
My desk drawer
opens to the smell
of engine exhaust
and the letter I wrote
when I was nineteen
and made my wrists
a cave of plane tickets.
It is a sign of prudent planning
to have marked an escape route
through your own bones.
Once, after all the policemen
left your forearm,
I walked my eyes along
the scar tissue on Delmar,
that I was your lover.
I did it nearly every day
for a whole summer
until I couldn’t help
but smell entirely of skin.
Don’t be so hard
on yourself. Half of you
is postcard, while the other
half of you is trying
to rebuild what, years ago,
was burned to the ground
by someone else. You are
always rebuilding. You are
always reaching for the river.
You have survived so much
that no one remembers.
And you still spread warm
rain on all your overgrown
lots. And you still get dressed
in the morning. You still
open wide for the sun.
On this night, my body
unwound like a spool.
I was beneath a boy
who loved thread for all the things
he could make of it.
Tonight, I am smooth and pliable
like good silk before a snag.
I am a metaphor for anything
beautiful and ruinable when it
hooks on to sharp things.
He lays his full weight
on my torso and I am a leaf
pressed still onto the mattress,
pressed small and flat by something living
for the purpose of study.
I am not sad about this.
It’s here that I can feel all my edges,
visualize my outline best
against a hungry white backdrop.
I am not sad about this.
I am dry despite the spit
and I am dry despite the fire hydrant
opening along the sidewalk of my spine,
giving my dancing vertebrae reprieve
in such repressive heat.
Beneath the grunting face
of the simplest kind of sex,
when two people want things
that are not each other, so settle
for a drive-thru buffet of each other’s lips –
It’s okay. I am dry and sort of shiny
but dull on the other side
like good silk.
I don’t really remember the snagging
but at some point he stops
and looks down at our axis
to find blood.
I gave him a fake name
when we met, so I feel like
maybe the red is someone else’s
admission of guilt, a red slap
on my ass that melted into shame,
a kiss so hard and hungry
it poured its color onto the sheets
or maybe the fire hydrant’s water
ran out of blue and started
spraying out its own red self
from my opening that pretended
itself an altar, though it is not.
There’s blood, he said
and I am suddenly shooting with pain.
I have been so careful with my dry,
I forgot that water is needed here
so my body offers blood.
He finishes, and there are loose runs
all over my pillowcase,
a trail of pulled silk and ruin.