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 Aug 2020 Hannah Richburg
I smoked to fill my lungs
to **** the flowers that grew there
the ones you planted last december
 Jul 2020 Hannah Richburg
i have no patience for you your feet sunk in the mud im leaving even if you stay behind.
nosebleed in a public restroom irrational shame,
dark stains on the carpet and we strain with the task of memory.
if your feet hold you back cut them off at the joint.
self-dissections in the lab,
case studies of the effects of
obsolete diseases. black plague typhoid smallpox
specimen pins/surgical staples, an efficient kind of suicide.
ill try not to smudge your lipstick when i kick in your teeth,
your white-knuckled hands digging grooves in your thighs.
efficiency as poetry.
brutality as poetry.
█████ as poetry.
i am trying to make a perfect vacuum of myself, purer than space. purer than black holes.
this is for the dirt ground into my jeans for the rusted nails in my walls , this is for you,
your delusions, your lover impaled on a sundial and you weep to complete the scene,
admire your artistry.
this is how to make feathers look like armor,
this is how to renounce your body,
how to be a living parody how to give up on yourself,
from a vulture to a prince. wren to a gryphon.
the water i drink is infested.
with eggs hatching in my throat i become more than myself,
mother to a thousand maggots.i name them all.i divide my love evenly among them.
here i staple my grievances to the doors of the church,
here i scream of plagues in the streets, filth in shining skyscrapers,
here i imagine myself cassandra here i prophesy misery
here i staple my grievances to your chest where you cannot brush them off this time.
you licking the doors, trying to taste what's gone, finding splinters in your tongue,
stuck in the braces you had
when you were twelve.
{i curse all metal grow more crooked by the day,
crooked man in a crooked house crooked cat on a crooked fence i can still rip your throat out with crooked teeth} you glisten you glisten you shine
like oil in the pan,
oil dripping from the car,
oil on top of the lake. lover where are the matches the pilot lights gone out again,
burn off the blockage till the heat shines blue.
domestic the forest you gather tinder,
too damp to burn smoke us out of our home.
leave it for someone better, stinking like a forest fire.the soundtrack is so loud i cant hear what you say,
im shouting with the strings it all sounds the same when you close your eyes,
smoke-blind you whisper from across the room and ive never hated you more than i do now.
i read your lips i write your words i staple them to the bedroom door i kick in your teeth too fast too fast a reminder that this isn’t pretty, eggs in the throat an exoskeleton too brittle to block the blows.
[me fetal on the kitchen floor me standing with ****** boots]
i count the teeth,
mark them as a symptom.
shedding the physical/shedding teeth.
shedding children from an open mouth.
 Jul 2020 Hannah Richburg
your NIGHT SWEATS: you wake soaked in your salt, shivering, an ocean; you address the doctor directly but she will not meet your eyes, she says your NIGHT SWEATS: psychosomatic, fever dream; your NIGHT SWEATS: you wake on the examination table, the sanitary paper soaked in your salt, disintegrated into thin fibers clinging to your clammy back; you sleep in the bathroom, in the bathtub, your NIGHT SWEATS: you wake drowning in your salt, head violently breaching the water before you are fully conscious, a survival reflex, you suppose; your NIGHT SWEATS: you sleep in your garden, in the grass, you wake in a brackish marsh; your NIGHT SWEATS: salt crusts your skin, rough pale scabs; your NIGHT SWEATS: you wake; your NIGHT SWEATS: you wake; your NIGHT SWEATS: you wake
 Jul 2020 Hannah Richburg
her mouth was sandpaper.

her mouth was sandpaper
and she spoke like
a smooth surface,
words scraped into fluidity
like a wooden sphere,
turned over behind teeth ‘til all friction
is lost.
she spoke like the walls of a birdhouse
in the room of a dead carpenter:
pretty unassembled things.

her mouth was sandpaper
and every kiss chafed,
rubbing raw my lips
and tongue
crafting with each touch
drawing blood like
juice from an apple,
like sap
from wood already cut from the tree.

her mouth was sandpaper
and she told me
i bite my lips,
rip at
the inside of my mouth,
cannibalize myself cell
by cell.

bone saws in her mouth.
the only difference between teeth of jaws
and saws
is mercy
(and she swallowed her mercy long ago).

her mouth was sandpaper
and she spoke like a carpenter’s hands:
rough palms,
tough pads,
a utilitarian artist
a crafter of dead flesh.
a mortician for dryads
and kodama.
the art and the artist
in lips
and teeth.

her mouth was sandpaper
and i brought mine to hers
again and again,
her bitten-rough lips
opening like doors to
less entrapment than addiction -
returning once more to nails and hammers,
hell’s blacksmiths below
heaven’s painters above.
coming back home
to the space between,
to bone saws
and a carpenter’s hands.

her mouth was sandpaper
and her voice was carpentry,
her teeth bone saws
her words
birdhouse walls.
her mouth was purgatory
but her hands
were hands.

her mouth was sandpaper.
i held her hand
and chafed my lips raw.

— The End —