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Kiernan Norman May 2023
We kiss on the roof,
disturbing time and space.
We hold tight to each other,
watching the landscape quake.

(I point out fires for him to see-)

Six stories down, this street
mirrors my marrow:
young, velvet, ******-
a little bit further than
he’s willing to go.

(I light my torches and set them free.)

The dark parts flare and
we are alone.
Forget breathing,
now we pant.

(I burn things before they burn me-)

The heavy parts leak and
we are alone.
Forget tasting,
Now we take.

(I burn things before they burn me.)
Kiernan Norman May 2023
I went to war with trouble,
daydreams dropping gentle.
I’ve stabbed too many
precious provisions
to wave my flag now.

Every stoop in the Village exhales
in moon-words beaming electric.
I crave a language
as mean and antsy
as your fast, feral fever.

Tinsel secrets slip to the street
from high-rises and fire escapes,
we only stop kissing to check if
the skyline will confess.

My mouth tunnels
to epiphany,
your hands' twist
toward apocalypse.
Together we can core clouds.

Force a laugh,
lead the light like a vow,
paint the night like a song,
teach me to undo
the deep parts
before they undo me.

My hand on your chest- relishing,
your hand on my ***- savoring.
Everything between us pulses
something torrential.

Everything inside me buzzes
wreck, wreck, wreck,
wreck, wreck.

Spin our night with fingers crossed
across charming evening plagues,
past spines I stitched like statues,
to bridges where we stole steel,
then drowned
our senses in the river.

Not touching you
is where it hurts.
Kiernan Norman May 2023
What happened while
the manuscripts choked?
Lighter shoulders,
stranger testaments.

Pardons reflect an ark
where shine means shout,
wind means worship,
and we stopped placing wonder
on anyone's elegy.

I used to be so young and severe,
trembling under any movement.
I played a ghost
until I became one.

I'd be crimped into vails,
rushed through verses,
roused from rest;
sighing
and hunting for your hand.

Echoes of ether-
loose-limbed and hearkening,
barely blinking;
saluting fences,
planting poems,
heeding baby-teeth.

Interred with you in
this chaos,
this grass-
fermenting fate
forevermore.
We tried to rise,
but failed to become the sky.

Since you cannot
take testimony seriously,
I had to rip it out-
our two wills colliding,
our pine coffins dissolving.

I was buried with jewels in
my open palms;
still offering,
still not atoned.

Your hands were buried empty
with nothing to answer for,
still tense,
still clenched in fists.

We harbor things-alive from our dead parts;
mice warm in your nest of ribs,
beetles declare squatters rights
in the tent of my pelvis and
raise flags from hip-bone heights.

Worms slink along fingers
and unite our pieces in peace.
In life we follied;
underfoot we fuel.
Tenable terrain,
we transform tomorrow tender.

The manuscripts soften to us,
the archives are kind.
We let ourselves sink into the rattle
and double into strange dust
so that new things
become.
blooming from us.
Kiernan Norman May 2023
I think about purity;
the way I allow things in and out of my mouth in different rhythms-
sometimes gnawing, sometimes cramming,
sometimes clawing back up with bile and belief
until I feel empty enough to try again.

I can’t put any of it into words.
I can’t write short poems.
I over-explain. I overwhelm.
I over-draw and they oversee.
I start to stake but there’ll
always be things I can’t do-
or, I mean, things I won’t do.
That’s a lie.
I try, try, try
to feel alive.

I like the secret,
tipping towards transgression,
tidal, treading.
Nothing in me belongs anyway;
every piece is trespassing-
breaking and entering,
bouncing on chicken wire,
listening for sirens.

Nothing in me is solid enough.
I’m so many stanzas in and out-
each with its own wavering threshold,
each dependent on someones waffling regard.

Water around here isn’t clear,
puddles and streams pulse with
mud and leaves,
trash and scuttley insects.
My reflection exists only,
wholely,
behind a layer of milky film
and unclean things.
Things from nature.
Things alive.
Things also pure.

Purity like looting
when the wires are down,
like a cracked mirror,
a stagnant pond,
perfunctory ***,
and slow-seeping Lyme
thinning your legs and hollowing your eyes.

Trying a new rhythm; things still in,
still out,
but better aimed.
Still trying, still living,
still too many words,
and still not empty.
Never empty.
Never impure.
Kiernan Norman Aug 2022
My color is whatever makes you ravenous-
I always wear my color.
Snatching some wind along the FDR,
folding it in my jacket for later.

I’m checking my cardinal marks,
hair down, skin salty,
I’m always navigating blooming
creatures like you
away from devoted danger.
I do my work,
then slip away on a buoy tender.
You won’t follow me,
you’re not that tender.

I’m not the first ingénue to show you
that the cross you carry is short,
or how your shadows are companions-
But I am the first swift sprite;
dripping with kindness and just enough allure,
to make you feel fresh ardor,
a new kind of ecstasy.

I say my lines, hit my cues,
and watch your eyes narrow as the ache
sets in. I revel and romp.
You covet and crave.
We dip and I spin you through a fast moment fever.
Now you’re feral on a stalling subway.

I’m not planting language,
I won’t hold your hand,
I’m humming a slow, electric kindle and you’re starting to spark.

I’m glinting, you're drowning like you understand.
I’m glinting, you’re yearning like a boy.
I’m glinting, you're conceiving our future,
because there’s no way you can let this feeling go.

It’s true I want to please,
but your fancy was a little off-
I won’t be looking up to gage your reaction,
I won't be looking at you at all.
Picture me closing my eyes,
grabbing my jacket, driving the tender.
By the time you’re on fire
I’m halfway down the river,
and I’m still glinting.
Kiernan Norman Aug 2022
In the jungle,
on the islands.
In my bedroom,
on my dumb *.

I get a text.
I need a tattoo.

A real tattoo;
a Lola's wrinkled hands slapping my thigh,
laying me over banana leaf,
then hammering long needles in my chest-
maneuvering a horn, a bone, a citrus thorn,
tap, tap, tap, tap,
sketching wounds to fill with soot.

A muted barb,
a slight prickling of skin,
then sinking, stamping, slipping-
through blood,
through muscle,
through bone.
Staining, stripping, splitting-
scraping at my inside-sun.

That’s what my grace has been feeling like.
That’s what my shame has been reeling like.

I deleted the poems.
I deleted the messages,
I tried to delete the flutter.
I want to cry but nothing comes out
my tongue is so big,
I have too many teeth.

My lungs feels the way mercury looks
pouring into a petri-dish.
Kind of trippy. I didn't even trip.
My surface is all salt and peppery,
numb, infinite,
and so, so stringy.

A man told me secrets and I didn’t flinch.
Then he got mad,
Maybe because I didn’t flinch.
Maybe because he can’t not wreck things.
I didn't flinch, so he threw *
at the wall;
a bowl of puttanesca, cute frosted cakes,
oily tabouli, slippery tteokkbokki.

We watch it drip, drip down,
until scraps and broken plates tye-dye the baseboard.
I didn’t move to clean it up,
he didn’t move to explain.
We didn’t groove to call it art.
This is, of course, a metaphor;
we don't share a wall,
I haven’t made tabouli in years.

okay. okay. okay. okay.
It’s almost funny but not there yet.
Should we laugh about this or catalog it in our dark days?
but to catalog, you'd have to stay.

You said you weren’t scared.
I said I was glad.
I said you’re big and I’m small and we might fit perfectly.
You agreed. That was before you got mad.

Something inside you is reigning rabid-
We knew this.
I am rascally and rare.
We knew this too.
My feelings are so, so big.
Can you see them in shop-windows while you walk your city?
Can you hear them while you shower, or
smell them in your coffee grounds?

That feeling again-
That Old-World ink.
That heavy-heart sink.
The static slander of my skin,
the catty condensation of my brain.
Everything inside is lava lamp-holographic,
and everything outside is pin pin pin pin.
Lola, please keep hammering.
I still feel tacky but your needles
gather up the strings.

It's not decorative:
I'm hoping it's erosive.
I'll bow down deep;
elbows up, eyes down;
an apology for not flinching
when you thought I should have.
Eros bowed out, you're not staying.
I'll bow again- it's twice for the dead.

On this island,
it's just me, that Lola,
her long needles, and my big feelings.
She can hammer them back into me
And I won't flinch.
Kiernan Norman Jul 2022
begin as a small soul-
stretch the ugly-
mind the dew.

Fill each borough with hands praying across beads,
******* in cheeks.
Here you can use the sky
to help you swallow.

Here you wonder historic in an orange wind tunneling
fierce, fluid, fast;
far and full,
Desperate to exhale
and spit down a subway grate.
No one’s looking for utopia anymore:
no rings
no wings.

Walk through haunted architecture for old times' sake.
What does ‘gilded age’ even mean?
On this block, our pipe’s clatter, burn up, and belly,
and the electricity smells.
We wear our shoes even as we sleep.

My body is a tenement,
families cram and people toil
in each room, room, room.
Layers of walls can be peeled off like skin,
we touch our lips and get dizzy.

I’m low light and no fire escapes, you’re growlers
of ale and some sort of horn in the saloon.
Together we are dangerous,
a public health emergency,
an evening that feels like home.

Laughter like glue dripping and drying;
exploring the oakwoods and getting itchy.
A moment, an arm, a radio.
A pinging kind of dire,
a different kind of parade.

His big issue is not company or crowds;
It’s nice girls like me seeing the same heart
but refusing to trip. I walk to bridges,
he stays sown on stoops.

We grip the same maps
but we seek a separate landscape.
I have bad thoughts and become the opposite,
we meet good omens and tuck them in the furnace.
I hear you aching like a slice of too-ripe fruit.
I remember not to look.
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