Fine Lines & Other Poems


fine lines

animal birth is different here, more
oily. street cats drip off the backs
of strange letters, mew in sirens, skin tires
in the rain, we realize which parts are made
of bone and which will just keep breaking
until we notice. i lost
my words once, but my mouth
was still pretty, so i never saw
men become headless
before me, button their voices
into the folds of their necks
ball their pickled spines like lint
between graveyards in their pockets. wilting,
there is a warning that used to be a woman
her paw is torn and she’s being hunted
by lessons that used to be men
on the corner, a bus opens its doors and
soda-pop laughter fizzles into gravel
hurry! she howls to the children
shove it in your pockets
before it’s too late,
sear it in your bones.

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah_Sunset (1).jpg

at least i brought dessert

“a weak ego you are not,” he says like
i am naked and bleeding, ripe
atop his third wife’s manicure
not just breathing, as i am
beside grown men talking
“i mean, you’re not lacking
in confidence.” //

we quarter ourselves,
survivors of experiments
in history, science, and the mathematics of how we will never be
enough. “lacking
in confidence” is the stuff
of feeding tubes and tombstones.
i am still above ground. //

before the room has time to yawn
the white man in the corner
is talking about the time he met the Dalai Lama
at a karate tournament, and how even
the Buddhists are capitalists. //

what a refreshing perspective
from a surgeon nursing a Coke can,
“i mean, you’re not lacking
in volume.” //

a slideshow creeps up the stairs,
unzips pixels from the carpet —
a family trip to Italy, stuffed
between beer and a cheese plate. all night,
father and son debate
whether the figure in Brunelleschi's painting
is a self- portrait or the likeness
of a homeless man. //

i don’t correct them, i revel
in the quiet joke, the mispronunciation: Brune-ell-es-SHE
as some subconscious feminist commentary, SHE
the satisfaction of what happens
when people like me, women
with egos of presidents, the audacity
of our abusers, hunger that gnaws through the webbing
of a Coke can, breathe above ground and
let the grown men talk.


young lady

jeans rip in the backyard, an accident at first
          we left our jackets under cover — too warm

inside, lady mantis picks her corpse groom’s brain
          cupping the edges of wet sleeves, two blocks away

i run to my mother, sweat. drool. skin. frayed
          denim in my teeth like stringed mango

do you want a snack? she asks and i calculate
          how much i can eat before heaving

wet mulch and pink worms and manure, out back
          we call it manhunt and laugh like it’s a game, pretend

the birds nests won’t catch fire and
          fruit will settle our stomachs and

bleach won’t burn, and
i will hardly dream of them.



the last time i stepped out
of the shade without sunscreen, nothing
happened or so i thought until
later that night i saw on the news
that someone’s father had been shot for stepping
into the sun without my skin

and the voice of my mother is clinging
to the dripping side of the floorboards, is bleeding
through scabs in the drums, it says
not to leave the house without at least SPF 15
on my lips because cancer can happen anywhere
and start at anytime, because life as we know it
ends when we least expect an ending

and she is right, but we are talking
about the wrong type of cancer.



is he, do you think
watching us?
the creature inside
that man
crouched behind grief and the paper
and the lie
that God
is everywhere but in difference
but in that breath
between dreaming and skeletons
wet gum
under the seat

he drops a page and
we all
look away, we all
are dropping pages we don’t
have time
to pick up, even in the face of
this man
whose eyes look more like milk
every stop
every door-open and crowd-shift
while he
is leaking, and i
look away

but Sunday
when he decides too much is missing
i will wish i had been different
bites and i will wish i had
instead of tightened
before slipping off the sweaty L
there is a man who wants to die
there is a man who can help us



i am shaved-my-legs-just-in-case
                                                            smooth and
you are razor’s-edge-bag-of-knives
                                                            slice me
with rice paper and teach me words i’ll never use like
in colombian spanish or
                                                            i love you
in any language that waters
like me, spinning
with what we are given, you are
                                                            what’s left
and you are forgotten
                                                            next week
probably, but try anyway
                                                            won’t you?
cut me deep enough
                                  make me remember
                                                            what todo tastes like




Josephine Blair

Josephine Blair is a Miami-based writer and activist. She is the girl wishing for snow and reading dystopian fiction on the beach. Her poetry can be found in Meniscus Literary Journal, Twyckenham Notes, Soliloquies Anthology, and elsewhere.



Addyson Santese

Addyson Santese is a 23-year-old fiction writer and graduate student in the MFA program at Northern Arizona University. She currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona and often returns home to Durango, Colorado, where she enjoys hiking, camping, and developing her nature photography skills.