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Oct 2014 · 378
a gone muscle (heart)
loisa fenichell Oct 2014
the night the sky broke open
all purple and ******
like the bruises tiring my thighs

was the same night my father died
was the same night my mother cried

was the same night I
ran around in circles waiting

for my legs to fall off
for my body to disappear
like a bird shot away like a sad holiday  

I loved you that night
like a whispered ghost
like a poorly built church

that night you were at my father’s funeral
you were burying his body
holding the shovel between your hands
(calloused as a windy lake)

that night at my father’s funeral
my throat was damp with guilt

I was not like my mother
my face was not marked, not wet
Oct 2014 · 875
loisa fenichell Oct 2014

My father sits in the corner of his
living room with his mouth curled
and ****** hair drooping like a ******
up angel. His body is just like mine.
I have never hated him more than
I do now, with his gut hanging over
his knees like hot solid fur.  


I sit in the passenger seat of a green
Subaru Forrester. Father drives. I am
trying to sleep and he won’t stop
talking and I realize in his voice that
the two of us are the same: we have
the same throats, like two blue


Father in his rocking chair sleeps
stilly like paved whispering. I picture
him with a snake in his lap and it is only
then that I am willing to cover him
in the plaid blanket that drapes the living
room couch. I leave him with my shoulders
bent like rusty metal, my mouth shaped
like guilt or a glass of milk.  


My father dies in 2006 in between
line of highway and line of trees. Subaru
Forrester beaten against the side of the road.
His spine bends his waist twists as though
he has just slept with the devil.
Oct 2014 · 300
loisa fenichell Oct 2014

When we were younger
there was not a single day
that we did not scrape open our knees
against the metal pails that Mother kept
in the kitchen.

“To ward off spirits,”
she would tell us at night
as we lay in bed
with our breaths hushed
as the body of a stillborn child.  

The day I was born
(in white hospital
in white sheets,
everything white
as the face of a choked casket)
Mother told me about the first child
she’d given birth to:
a child birthed and then dead within an hour.

Ever since then there were
the metal pails, all of them
lined up carefully
along the wooden kitchen
like a crowd of empty stomachs.

There we slit our knees
and there we waited for Mother
to come stitch us up;
there we were ignored.

Our bodies looked
like ghosts’ bodies,
only our knees
were more overtly bleeding.    


Growing older means:
less ghost and more large stomach.

The metal pails are still in the kitchen, only
Mother’s body is now curled up and dead
inside of one of them, her body curled up
right next to that of the child, the one dead
within the hour. Growing older means:

more summers sticky with sweat  
between our touching bellies,

our bellies dead and vulnerable
like the loose faces of paled grandparents
who are close to dying in nursing homes.  

When I am standing in front of you
and when you are upstairs
and when it is nighttime
and when you are in my bedroom
(the bedroom where I used to live with my
five brothers, where mother used to tell us about warding
off spirits) standing in front of me with heavy abdomen
I am most excited to curl up against you, most excited
to cry like the gun of my grandmother
until I can no longer feel my belly.
Oct 2014 · 1.8k
loisa fenichell Oct 2014
Mother told us when we were younger not
to step foot into the woods or else our bodies
would disappear like birch tree into morning

At night in the dark with our hushed breathing
lying underneath soft blue quilt and the moon pale
as Mother’s face shining through the bedroom window
she told us stories about wolves with teeth sharp
and naked, sinister and still like a fresh mistake, or like
the stories themselves, the ones that lulled us into
hard-edged sleep.

Now at night in the dark with my hushed breathing
lying underneath trees tall as a father I’ve never met
I am breaking every law I’ve ever known, standing
with feet bare and rough like the body of a toddler
that’s been scratched by saltwater. Now the moon
is as rough and gold as a cruel boy’s face.

Here I am breaking every law I’ve ever known
but also here I no longer have a mother. Here
there are finally people I can learn how to miss
and the trees look more like tombstones; on one:
the name of a father long gone, another: mother dead
with age, a third: boy dead by drowning.

If somebody could see me now they would see
the body of somebody holy, soft and aching and wrinkled.
Oct 2014 · 323
State Lines
loisa fenichell Oct 2014
Through mountains in August was the first time
in 19 years that I felt by myself: no chest

one large body.

You were there next to me, all fists
steering your car like a giant squid.
I would have turned to a saint
before pressing my palm to your knee
but I put my palm there anyway

and there it stayed like a lightly-held song.

Sitting behind a dark bush with you
your left shoulder looked like a small city
while my eyes turned damp like a mother’s new crown.

Your body is still next to mine like a large corpse in the sky:
goodnight, I am dying circles as though I were a priest;
goodnight, I am fainting thinking about the bruises on my upper thighs
that you did not give me; goodnight, my body feels like some sort
of gutted deer all heavy with gore; goodnight,
you are stuck with blood
in the back of my cruel throat.
s h r u g
Oct 2014 · 343
loisa fenichell Oct 2014
I am born in the springtime, underneath a moon
swollen as the abdomen of a rat. My body
out of the womb looks like the shape
of my mother’s wedding dress. From there

I grow like the belly of a pregnant cow, only
with no milk to offer; there is nothing pale
about me: later my parents will call me names
that translate into nighttime and I will hear them

and I will go to them, mindlessly, like a bucket
of breathless water. Today is my sixteenth year forty-sixth day
and they still call to me and I still go to them, but this time
with a face like red seas. This time they look at me

with fear knuckled through their voices: I look like the raw
and sore underside of a cold nose, the kind you get
from enough crying and not enough sleep, and also: I
am too thin, my bones stick out from my body like the stripes of a bee.

Days like today I wish for somebody to sink into like tissue paper.  
Days like today I think about being in trees with my brother,
the world dark enough to make the two of us look
like scratched mirrors or splintered eyes. We do

not speak to each other, do not look at each other, but
our breathing is identical, both of us shadowed away
from whatever screaming sounds the house may make
when it is late and my mother and father do not know

what to do with the worries that take over their bodies.
My seventeenth year forty-sixth day I will go to them
and I will apologize, my voice whispery like a soft limb,
my bones less visible, more hidden, more like ghosts.
iffy about this one tho!!!
Oct 2014 · 327
loisa fenichell Oct 2014
it starts in a bathroom with me feeling
sliced open, like a bird that has just
been gunshot-down from the sky: this boy
does not belong to me. I do not belong
to myself. nobody belongs in my skin.
it is all I can do not to cry into his mouth.
I will not cry into his mouth (I refuse to cry into his mouth).
instead this boy will press his palms into my body as though
I were something smaller, something holier. I like him mostly
because his wrists do not bend the way yours do.
Oct 2014 · 734
summer in Connecticut
loisa fenichell Oct 2014
with a boy whose palms seemed constantly marked
with calendars. lying next to him
in his twin bed covered in blue sheets
I made the mistake of asking him to sing
me psalms -- neither of us

were religious. I told him
that his room smelled like an old church
and that I’d only been to a church once
with a childhood friend
and that everybody there drank the blood of Christ
except for me because my family
has a history of alcoholism

the first time I saw his stomach I saw his
whole body and his knees looked tombstones

the first time he saw my stomach he saw my whole body and I whispered
over and over again silently underneath my breath
silently like an anxious fire ‘do not look at me’ the first time
he looked at me he told me I fainted: that night I
had dreams
of cutup magazines,
of hands that only bleed in playgrounds. somewhere that night
lying atop his stomach we heard a girl next door
screaming the way owls do. I’d seen her the morning before
and she’d been beautiful like an old wedding dress.
Sep 2014 · 387
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
~deleting this 4 now 4 reasons but if u buy a copy of the next issue of 'winter tangerine review' .....~
Sep 2014 · 417
How to be a son
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
You wear gloves like they
are second hands or more

like a pair of ghosts either
way they are extra i.e.

not a part of you i.e. this
body (your body)
that you are in

should belong to a cow
but you have never stepped

onto a farm you imagine
a farm with soil black

and bitter with language (your
father worked on a farm

when you were younger you
did not know him but still

you grew a beard the way he did)
And now you wear gloves

they are secondhand

they are like graves
they span generations
heavily inspired by rebecca gayle howell // for a class // hi
Sep 2014 · 625
How to behave at a funeral
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
Neighborhood boy dies this summer.
Now you are in love with a ghost.
At the funeral you hate your body. There
you realize that your thighs have been
growing rapidly, like an infant’s breath,
and your stomach looks mountain ranges.
The boy in the casket is thin as ember. You
swell with jealousy. You do not cry. The last
funeral you went to was for your grandfather
and you didn’t stop asking questions,
about where he was going and who he’d be
living with. Now you are all silent stuffed animal.
You have not gone to church in two years, have
only prayed when the boy has been listening.
You could not love Christ if you tried; you haven’t
tried. You only drink his blood to feel as though
you are being touched by hands that aren’t yours,
or your parents, or the boy’s. Your hands look
like pet birds, always. Your hands are trembling
underneath your dress, pinching at your stomach.
Sep 2014 · 224
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
Here, this water is for you. Here,
you have a body all strung out
like a highway, cutting through
fields. Here, call your mother, she
still worries about you. Here, once
you died. Here, once you slept in my
bed, we slept together, we slept
together & we did not ****, even though
I wanted to ****: you slept curled
against me like a small bird meant
only for the palm of your hand, breath
warm as a new layer of skin.
Sep 2014 · 286
Keeseville, NY
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
Driving there the trees start to look like my old baby teeth  
and my skin starts to feel like the bruises of a mother I have not
spoken to in three years. There people sit in their striped foldout
beach chairs in the parking lots of gas stations and watch the cars
go by and the women wear dresses covered in flowers that swell
like skeletons down to their ankles and the dogs when they bark
sound like stretched out skies.

Summers until I was 17 spent there in the lake,
the lake where for the first time I held my breath for ten whole seconds
and where Tommy from across the street drowned himself and where
for two weeks I couldn’t swim without crying from the panic
that bloated and ballooned out in the cryptic wells of my chest. Until I

was 17 there within the walls of the house painted white as a
canker sore and in my bedroom lying on the wooden floors
my belly the first time you came was too bare and too large
and after that I did not speak to you for a week and when
I finally opened my mouth I couldn’t stop crying, my face
swollen as fish roe, and I never loved you more, and then

I never loved you more than I did on my porch for the last time,
you standing there looking gauntly and saintly as a bruise and me
with hunched shoulders, I couldn’t stop shaking, I never stopped
shaking, here I am in this car and it is air-conditioned and I am
still shaking.
nostalgia // i saw iron & wine and he played a new song and the lyrics were rly good and this is what happened afterwards
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
There is a small bruise
spreading across your forehead
like wine across the body of a saint.
Your forehead is resting on my sheets,
cotton and white like sinners. Our bellies
are sweaty and naked. My belly has been bloated,
spread out and looking like a high peak, for over
a week, and I’ve never not wanted you here,
in my bed, on top of my bed, more than now:
our shirts are both blue, our shirts are both
lying on my floor. I am shivering, trembling
like moths in a burning house.

In a dream we are walking through
a train station that looks like an
alleyway and you are letting go of my hand
slowly and I am feeling like a church
made of grass and my limbs are feeling
like graves and across the train station
that looks like an alleyway there is a girl
in long clothes beckoning to you and you
come and I am sprung up drenched
in pools of my own sweat as though it were
July all over again.
Sep 2014 · 389
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
in the eyes of my father
i am only stained in water
and i am sawing off my *******
i love the way a boy might
quietly like the insides of a womb

in the eyes of my father
i am doing well in my body
he can’t see that i am bleeding my hands
that i am sawing off my *******
my father is a careful man

reliable like window shades
in the eyes of my father
i don’t need a body
i don’t have a body
and i am sawing off my *******

i am large like a supermarket
my belly moves like worms
in the eyes of my father
i am sawing off my *******
**** a sooort of villanelle??
Sep 2014 · 241
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
Boy sinking boy drowning this is not
the first boy I’ve kissed

boy walking across pavement like streetlamp
it is as if he has no mouth he is so light

boy in his car reminds me of Grandfather in
the nursing home we visited Grandfather
there every weekend until I was 6 years old
and then he died all of the boys I’ve ever loved
have died in one way or another I am sitting
in this car with this boy and my legs feel huge
like claps of thunder and I can’t stop eating
his skin as though it were a consummation of sorts

we are listening to a song with lots of piano
boy plays piano because the keys remind him
of bits of time (the way he presses down on them
lightly like buzzes of flies)

I want these boys to know that
the days on which I miss Grandfather grow further
and further apart like old magazine subscriptions
the days on which these boys remind me of Grandfather
are every morning they all drink their coffee black
they all eat cold pancakes they all die circles underneath
their eyes dark as their coffee dark as their mothers’ wombs
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
there is rain and there is lightning and there are trees
and in one corner of the field there are
two women
in long skirts, white like your boy's face. they are picking
flowers just for you (for your hair): hydrangeas and lupines. in this dream you do not have a name, just a mouth, to swallow the rain, and the clouds that hang
overhead like dead kingfishers are heavy and black and swole
with more water. your clothes are not wet in this dream. 
your skin is, your skin is pink and wet, looking the way it did
the day of your birth, but your clothes -- mother's old blue dress curled 
carefully around your knees (the dress is too small -- mother
has always been so tiny, so much tinier than you are) -- are dry as your lips. 
your stomach is churning, you are standing in this field you don't know,
and your stomach is churning as though you love a boy. you do
love a boy, but not like this. your boy is pale, your boy is quiet
as your childhood house, and so your love for him
is quiet as well, it never churns, but now your stomach is churning,
with rain, maybe, with this dream. you think about the boy,
but he is the wrong boy. you are ready to wake up.
Sep 2014 · 346
Pale : Dusk
loisa fenichell Sep 2014

It begins with a couch and with me thinking
that I’ll feel better if we sit together. The couch
is as brown as my knees were when I was six and playing
with dead worms and building statues out of the bones
of grey soft birds.

I am thinking mostly of your hands and of your lips
and of my mother: in a few hours when I return to the house
she will be yelling, shrieking in a voice
like warm alcohol.


If I told you I loved you, you would cry; it’s only
been a week, maybe, or a day, or three weeks, or two months
(here time stretches and then is collapsed, is sometimes
flattened and thin and other times curls thickly as the hair
of one of your former lovers). If I let my head fall
into your shoulder, gently, maybe then you will let your hands
rifle through my hair.


My head is too heavy for your body, your body light
the way I think a girl’s ought to be, the way I think
mine ought to be. My bones feel shadows, they press
into your backside like a birthing womb.


Tonight we are in a womb together. Tonight we are birthed
together like Christ and dog. Tonight I do not miss you anymore,
tonight I could not miss you more.
Sep 2014 · 202
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
This is both how it ends and how it begins:
I gave you two paperback novels and you forgot
to read both of them, they sat on your nightstand
for three months like the ghosts of grandfathers. The cover
of one is neon yellow, all bright like the insides
of your mouth, and the cover of the other
is greens and whites with the face of a small bird
coming out from the center. You hate to read. I knew
you wouldn’t like either book, but I loved them,
so I gave them to you anyway, then watched them
pool together in dust the way sweat pooled across
my body, my body underneath yours, yours a small
lightning rod and mine ever-expanding, corkscrewing
out like a mountain range or like a bottle of wine.
The first day we met we ended up in your car, I sat
in the passenger seat and was terrified of your hand,
but still mine crept to it like a fish to sand sprinkled
across beach by a child. At first you were there
lodged away in my left breast, your body I felt
form a small knot there, and the knot grew, slowly,
and then suddenly, gone, like a confession. First
my hands were deep in your chest and yours were edged
around my hips, everything felt careful and wooden,
and then our hands sawed away and disposed of. There
was one fleeting goodbye and then there was an empty room,
my body once again alone and standing underneath a sky
large and empty and flat as your cool tongue.
Aug 2014 · 386
loisa fenichell Aug 2014
sad news this morning from mars: first baby to be born there died that same day. miscarriage, very ******, parents named her rosie, i think. picture rosie older with hair long & black like the dress of a widow. picture rosie older: going to church; giving birth & screaming. there’s a picture of her in this morning’s newspaper: a picture of her in her mother’s lap, both of them lying in the hospital bed. i say black hair, long hair, because her mother’s hair is long & black, too. her mother is all dark, dark, dark like the feet of a child after a long & grueling day at the beach (spent with no friends, just family). her mother is beautiful, even in hospital gowns, even having just given birth. when i gave birth i couldn’t stop screaming.
Aug 2014 · 1.0k
Dear poet,
loisa fenichell Aug 2014
I do not love myself
dear poet I could not love myself even if I tried
dear poet I do not love myself dear poet I try to love myself
dear poet I sit in meditation groups & I chant “love your body”
over & over again, silently, cyclically, a prayer
until I am crying dear poet I am not yet 20
& my body already feels wrinkled
dear poet last night I had a panic attack
because last night a boy who reminded me of my mother
tried to kiss me on a field underneath dark stars
dear poet I still feel guilty for not kissing him back
dear poet he tasted like 12 years old again
dear poet like 12 years old I was upstate at camp in a lake
shaped like a womb swimming with my back arched
upside down like Australia dear poet I am all skin & mosquito bites
& I still taste like summer like alcohol from a boy
dear poet I am shaking here in my skin dear poet
I can’t stop shaking dear poet please calm me down dear poet
once I loved a boy & then he drowned himself in a lake
& dear poet I cannot love again dear poet except I love you dear poet
for a prompt (write poem titled "dear poet")
Aug 2014 · 308
1994, Heat
loisa fenichell Aug 2014

The boy dies after staying awake all night
reading "The Plague." He drowns himself in a lake. This is summer of '94. 
We all attend the funeral. Nobody talks, except for the priest, as the body is being lowered into wet grounds. The rest of the time it is as silent as the boy's body was in the moments
after drowning.


Summer of '94 I am eighteen, lying in bed in between sheets that are as white and as cotton as my mother's wedding dress. The moon's face is as cruel and as yellow as that of a boy's. I dream up my first nightmare: I am a widow and I am being strangled by my corpse of a husband until my skin is dark blue, the color of the lake the boy drowned in. 


Summer of '94 is the hottest summer. Billy The Neighbor takes me to behind the yellow house. We are both barefooted, our toes grassy and sticky with sweat. He seems to love me, he tells me he does, before having me lie beneath him on the ground. It is night and I can barely see his face, but I know that it is tinged with glistening pink. I touch his back and it feels like a childhood fever.


There are days when Mother thinks
that she is her mother, who died before I was born, or at least pretends to be her:
dresses in her mother's clothes that we keep
in the attic, talks poorly about herself. I have to hold her until she begins 
to whimper and then is herself again. 


The last night of summer the dog dies. The vet tells us that it is a natural death. 


The last night of summer the moon is as bright as an old ghost and I do not get any sleep. In my head I am the boy drowning himself in the lake.
Aug 2014 · 322
not my body
loisa fenichell Aug 2014
I don’t ever want to sleep with you
in a hotel bed in white sheets
in white sheets with you I feel death
I don’t want to ever feel ghost with you
I spend all summer with you in lakes
water makes me feel
more ghost than anything else does
you hold me in the water & love me
& I keep thinking
is this really what your body looks like when it’s sunny out
(like a mountain range like a museum of moths)
you have a face like a moth
& I have a stomach like a moth
how fitting
my stomach is so large in this water
& in this water I am ghost
& in this water you are holding a funeral & in this water
everybody is holding a funeral
for somebody else
I am not the most important ghost anymore
I am just a simple ghost floating
through gentle mists
like a child
Aug 2014 · 332
loisa fenichell Aug 2014
The day we broke fast it was late July & your body tasted like heat
& rain, even though it hadn’t rained all month. That July
the grass died, & then our parents died, & then the neighborhood dogs,
& the cows, too, out in the large fields, & there were flies everywhere,
buzzing like the wrinkles of the elderly. You died last, the day we broke fast,
along with every other boy from the neighborhood. Your bodies
were all empty corpses, sprawled out together flat & open & with hanging tongues,
like a high school football field.

The last night of July I had a dream in which you were the devil,
all red skin & hair like a bucket of moon ***** & missing eyes.
I woke up screaming, but very quietly, because it was still early, 6am,
your eyes were missing & so were you. The last night of July I tried
sneaking out of the house & into the small graveyard next to the small church
that rested up the hill by the small school, but your tombstone was missing
& I cried until I didn’t have a throat anymore, until I was just one large body,
very empty, very carved out, like the pool
down the street
that Grandmother used to take me to.
Aug 2014 · 870
loisa fenichell Aug 2014
The first story I ever heard was from Grandfather,
about a boy & his dog. Grandfather looked pale
as ash that day. It was December & I was still
a small wrinkle in a bassinet. Mother & Father
were still new parents. They never listened to Grandfather,
just cradled me like a bundle of empty beer bottles.

Even now I’ve never seen either of my parents
drink, but I can hear them screaming, at night, about me,
mostly, sounding like whorls of fingerprints
being rubbed together in the wrong direction. My body is so often

being rubbed together in the wrong direction: a stomach that feels like moths
or eggs boiled incorrectly, too soft or too hard. My stomach growls, often.
Tightens, often, like thousands of screwdrivers in my throat.

If Grandfather could see me now he would cry. In the story
the boy & his dog are having trouble moving their sled down
a steep & snowy mountain but in the end they succeed, sliding
down the mountain the way hands do across large bellies. I am not a boy,
I do not own a dog, or a sled. Nights I stay up late
curled on the floor of the kitchen or the bathroom,
clutching at my body,
at the swole of my abdomen,
as though it were a large pile of greasy, brown rats.
Jul 2014 · 959
fragments (to knit later)
loisa fenichell Jul 2014

I’m into you like moons. I’m sorry.
That’s not what you want to hear. I’m
into you like how my shoulders make waves.
There is a river tearing down from my neck.  
I think maybe you think that you are inside
of me like a second burden. No, but see, I
have so many souls all taped to my gutters,
to my insides. I think that’s why I’m always
holding doors open for strangers.


I went to my father like clay.
He melted my hands and told me
not to worry and told me not to snow.


I’m always so very strangerly. Especially
with people on subways. We’ve been on a subway
together once. In fifty years we will be on a subway
together again but it will be by accident like when
you bruise your temples on the corner of the bathroom


I’m mostly singing a lot mostly
because it makes my throat disappear
mostly because all of the windows are breaking
anyway so what does it matter. Windows breaking
from some storm. The snow is supposed
to last for five days.


Hello, father, I have disobeyed you.
Look I am falling to the ground,
look I can’t get up, how exciting.
Jul 2014 · 622
radio static
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
i've started to pray
to the toilets of public bathrooms again.
on busses & on trains travelers
can watch me turn dizzy, faint, or,
even better, turn ghostly
like a grandfather.

i've been buying travel tickets
to my brothers again.
lately in my dreams they did not die,
they never died.

there was a joint funeral
& my parents hired a soul singer
to perform cover songs of elliott smith
& i stood still as ash, doing my best
to rip open my face & my palms
& my wrists.

that day was the first day in a week
that i did not eat,
that i did not make myself *****.

in dreams my brothers did not die,
but i still wait for their funeral.

my hands are roads again, or wheels,
all marked & nailed & bruised.
if you turn me into a river
then i will share my secrets with you.
Jul 2014 · 432
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
alcohol that tastes like fathers:
stay awake and smell like boy
three nights in a row.
days consist
of waning kitchens, toilet bowls
that look like wedding dresses
or miniature gods,
******* (like highways)
strung down
inside of my mouth,
throat scratched like roadkill,
belly swollen like fish eggs.
Jul 2014 · 332
process of staining
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
late at night the kitchen 
sheds its skin for you 

outside your bedroom door
kneels your mother, flat & round
like a subway 

later you will kneel, too,
then sleep in your bed
as though nothing is wrong but

your hair grows thin & ***** 
as beestings & your body 
won't stop tearing itself & ballooning
out at the seams 
& sometimes on the bus your throat 
is as full & tight as a hot lake 
& you're hoping that you'll 
have nightmares that will 
make you cry in your sleep
quick poems written on long(ish) bus rides (back home), pt. 2
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
On February 5th I am told
that I am best when built
from spruces; later that day,
in the basement, I find
my father’s fingerprints
deep inside the wooden floors.

The next day Mother
haunts my bedroom
like expired medicine.
Her arms are wide
and pregnant and encircle
my wrists like toothy wires.

In my room hangs
a photograph from
camp: the girl’s body is an altar.
Highways line her arms. Small
green snakes weave through
her teeth the way my toes
now weave through salt.  

It was after that summer
that I turned spirals, that
the ridges in my throat
grew deeper. Now I am

an icy church.
so many poems
Jul 2014 · 480
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
I’ve known you a year
& only touched your back
once & when I did your spine
bent like metal or like dirt.
The best part about your body
is how easily it can be covered
by the soil of elderly mothers’ gardens.

Last night I dreamt that we were driving
through a city of old lakes (& we were, & we did).

Tonight my legs are wide & sprawled out
(& looking like a marriage bed) atop
a white blanket. You cannot mourn
what is not yet dead; you are like
a small baptism to me, all forgotten about.
Jul 2014 · 351
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
i. I consume your body
until it burns.

ii. White sheets, white tiles.
I think of you when I *****.
Mother sits & cries in the corner
of her bedroom. I call for her
until I am thinned out & pale,
my body large & expanding.

iii. My body is the lake from last summer.

iv. Last summer three boys drowned.
I was too afraid to attend the funeral.

v. Now I am too afraid to wear my body.
My hands are hurricanes when I realize
that I am loved.
Jul 2014 · 365
once i was younger
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
our bellies stretch like animal carcasses. our flesh some new cartography. i still remember when we dug those foxholes at the beach. so many holes dotting the sand. we made time to curl up inside of each one. maybe because mother was always telling us to “make time for family.” you sang to me every night in my bedroom before i went to sleep. sang to me and hushed me and held me the way you held your organs, perfectly and in place. i was always so impressed by you. impressed by the way you ate and stood. i stood just like you, i remember. always slightly hunched over, always slightly bent, but ever so slightly.

it started with just one night. i was so young, lying on the carpet shivering. i had just had one of those dreams again. one of those flying dreams where i’m flying over woods and water and places i’ve never even been to and then i see a parent and a child and suddenly i am falling so quickly. suddenly i am landing flushed and naked on the floor. then i guess you came, so silently, standing in the doorway like a ghost. i wish i could remember you well enough. part of me wishes i could remember you holding me but at the same time my stomach is dark with so many moths, just trying to remember. not wanting to remember, really.

later in life it is summer and dark and i am at a party and i am hot and sweaty and sticky and there is a boy there and his thumb is on my left cheek, so close to the corner of my mouth, and his lips won’t stop leaning into mine. my eyes are closed. i am trying to remember his face, but i keep thinking about yours and am overwhelmed with the needles that are suddenly springing to the corners of my eyes. it is all i can do not to find a bed and start rocking back and forth, or if not a bed, at least the tiled floor of a bathroom. i love tiled floors so much, especially when they have been lit by winter. i lie on them when i am sick and getting out of the bath. baths drain so much energy. i picture you stroking my hair and letting me ***** and picking me up out of the tub and everything seems so familiar that i start shivering compulsively. the boy (addled mind keeps me from even remembering his name) looks at me. you are so strange, he is thinking, it is summer and you are shivering, why are you shivering, but he is also nice enough, i guess, and gives me his sweatshirt, which i don’t even need, because i am not shivering out of coldness. i don’t tell him that, though. i just take the sweatshirt and close it to my neck and let my body sweat. i want to lie on the grass. i want to be o.k. with letting my head spin.

a week later the boy is at home. you seem unnervingly fine. i begin to wonder if maybe i’m crazy.
prose poemz
Jul 2014 · 263
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
we are not invincible, kissing in this attic,
inhaling bones like wolves' heads
or dimes.

i leave you to use the bathroom,
trip over a metal bucket --
i can slit open my knee so easily,
without trying,
as though it were a church.

i have never broken into a church.
i have never prayed in a church.
i have never been in a church:  
i have never been a teenager,
although i have kissed you,
quickly & clumsily,
with my tongue & with my teeth.

i have dreams
about you drowning in the lake
the way those boys did
last year. your face is etched
like a quarter. i would build
a dress for you, if i could.
when my tongue is in your mouth
someone else's voice is my head.
quick phone poems written on long(ish) bus rides
Jul 2014 · 2.6k
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
I don’t want to ever find myself apologizing to you today I am saying sorry by vomiting today I am saying sorry by not moving today your face is in my hand & I am kissing it today my body expands like lung cancer I am always writing about expanding bodies I am never not vomiting even when I am really not at all last night I got 4 hours of sleep this morning my headache is full of scraped knees today I do not move today I think about kissing you today I think that kissing you would not be very different from kissing a taxi today I think that I want to ignore you & kiss you forever & ever but I cannot do that if you ignore me today my stomach is angry at the world today I am in love with too many people today I am waiting for the world to thank me & I am waiting for an astronaut, a moon, a lit-up screen, ellipses in your rotten mouth, some beestings in my throat
well ****, idk idk, quickie (quick poem v v quick)
Jul 2014 · 605
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
1995: year the weather broke,
year Grandfather died, year Mother
& Father got into their first
argument: these days: Mother is always
jealous of Father: these days: Father tells more jokes,
makes more people laugh. 1995: year
I fell through Mother’s ******, blood circling
my scalp. 1995: year we all became planets.

You were born the same day as I was, only far across
the city. Your body wrinkled like the balding heads
of uncles. Your mother was not mine, but they sounded
the same when they screamed. Your father was not mine,
but they both had stomachs that looked
more like boys drowning in lakes than anything else.
year of the boar ufeel
Jul 2014 · 330
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
We are driving across this bridge
the way wolves move through hills. I’m too afraid
to ask you to stop here, too afraid to look up
and hold the moon’s light in the back of my throat,
also too afraid to look down at the river.
I know what the river looks like
already: ashed like my mother’s hands the night I was born.

I was born to new parents;
sometimes I think that this is the first mistake
I ever made. 5 years before I was born my mother
had a miscarriage, sobbed and vomited throats for 5 weeks & 5 days.
I am no light for her yet, but I am trying, also I am trying
to drive for you across this bridge, across this highway:
my feet & hands are no more than wheels.
Jul 2014 · 340
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
Nyack, NY: a naked man sits cross-legged in the middle of a road
with a dead dog sprawled across his lap, next to him there is a woman
with an empty mouth (no ice & no teeth). Nyack, NY: I am not one of them.
At night I hold scissors to my feet the way bottles were once held
to my young newborn face. Mother, Mother, in 1995, 19 years later,
did you think I’d be in a hospital?

White Plains, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Westchester Division: there
is a boy there who loves football & tells me that the two of us were born like twins.
I have never seen a football game in my life.

White Plains, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Westchester Division: there is a girl who at dinner time hides the bread rolls in her fleece, her fleece is purple like my father’s face was the day he proposed to my mother in a restaurant
in Woodstock, NY.  

Upstate NY I do not cry. Upstate NY I am folded into mountains
like the comforter of a child, it is summer & my stomach expands
like boiling eggs. During the egg toss I break the egg in my hands
like a crack of thunder & my partner gets mad at me & I do not move,

like a boy I do not move. I kiss five boys in 12 months, & for each one
I feel like I am kissing my hand. For each one I feel like I am kissing
sidewalk or a magazine & I want to apologize. I let each one of them
bite my tongue until I can’t feel my stomach. I never want to feel my stomach again.

This year I am deer this year I become barbecue this year I am Christ I do not
go to church & until tonight I forget to remember my grandmother.
Jul 2014 · 247
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
i've never seen anything more comforting
than the way the sky in ny changes colors
after a deer has just been killed in a car crash
idk idk
Jul 2014 · 648
loisa fenichell Jul 2014
My grandmother was born in Long Island
on the 5th of May, in a house as large
and as white as my parents’ wedding.

September of 2013
I scratched my eyes until they bled,
and then scratched them again
until they looked like the petals of flowers
my mother once tried to plant
in our backyard.  

These days my mother tells me stories
about growing up with my grandmother:
they’re stories of death, mostly: death resting
in the space between mothers & fathers
who sprawl atop their marriage beds
without speaking to one another.

Mother tells me that her parents were together for 23 years
before the divorce, or before her father died, she can’t
remember anymore.

I do my best never to think of her childhood,
but there’s research being done now
about how memories tend
to move from generation to generation,
very quickly and without warning.

Most of the time I feel like
a very poor animal in Mother’s eyes: I don’t move
the way I used to; not as much and not
as quickly. Now I sit still on my bed with my nails
clamped in between my teeth and listen to echoes
of me whispering that I love you, echoes of me
whispering that if I could I would talk
to you about how little I remember: I remember
women pretending not to know each other
and I remember them breathing into the spaces
where they didn’t belong.
Jun 2014 · 486
loisa fenichell Jun 2014
pt 1

i am very aware of skin & i am very aware of a ***** in my mouth. it feels like the basement light ought to be turned off, but instead the room is very bright, like the insides of your mouth.
quick, open up your hands & we’ll see what’s inside of them. you taste like lipstick. i laugh.
your **** tastes like light red lipstick — like, you know that one traffic light by that one intersection in town by the yellow house? yeah, your **** tastes like lipstick & the lipstick is the same shade of red as that light. i laugh again.
she belongs to the yellow house. the yellow house belongs to her, like a mutt. no other dog could ever belong to her the way that yellow house can.
(you: when you were gone i got mad at you because you accused me of something i didn’t do.)
before you left we stood on graveled driveway & i should have told you that you smelled like new paint.

pt 2*

help we’re in these woods & help i’m vomiting again & help this time it’s your hair that’s piling out of my mouth
help my teeth are still vicious around your waist & help yours are still wrapped around hers
(please help please i’m vomiting again)
i think i’m drunk; i think we’re drunk; i think she’s drunk:
we’re stumbling over roots & rocks as though there isn’t a sky perched above us, high & deep like your throat against my shoulder: *that’s going to leave a mark

i mostly leave marks in bathrooms & you mostly leave marks on me, i think i’m a road, i tell you
& you laugh & so does she & i ask why she’s here & her eyes go dark like children’s bedrooms & your eyes narrow & i shut up
the sky is still very large, very wide, less like a throat now, more like a tongue
rough (draft) //// bitter
loisa fenichell Jun 2014
1) I walk five miles deep into the woods in the back of the yellow house with my brother so that we can watch the flies circle around the bodies of the dead cows: their hanging limbs, their loose tongues. The air hangs like a boy’s arms around my shoulders. My brother and I both wear shorts.
2) Inventory: one tractor in the yard. One truck in the driveway. One driveway, gravely like the throats of my father and grandfather. They both live in the yellow house. At night I stay up late listening to their screams. They sound like owls’ heads or hurricanes.
3) Father sees a different woman each day. They all have blonde hair like mine. Eyes brown and crumbling and whiney like mine, too. Mother left when I was three years old. Brother and I still aren’t sure if Father means she’s dead or if she just ran away, but we’ve yet to see a tombstone.
4) We go to church every Sunday. The pews press against the back of my sticky legs and white dress. Charlie eyes me from across the aisle and I do my best to focus on the head in front of mine.
Jun 2014 · 1.1k
loisa fenichell Jun 2014
Summer like a newly born body              Our sheets are sticky & white

Legs knotted on the floor of my bedroom closet              (Except: I don’t have legs)

(I’m afraid of wearing shorts)              We sit on the floor of this closet breathing heat

& eating each other’s bones like Chinese food              (We don’t like Chinese food)

I tell you that my body doesn’t exist              Except at night in dreams & nightmares

We stay in this closet because it is small & dark             & we know each other

We know each other in these              Sheets, white & sticky (like the wedding dress

of a nervous bride)              This summer is built like a hospital

This summer               We are born again like *****, only without water

We drink water              And then we die like church bells

We drink water             And then we die like our parents do,

In cycles              The way we brush our teeth

(Next summer              We will be back on the floor of this closet)
in which i play around with formatting
Jun 2014 · 417
loisa fenichell Jun 2014
Home again I hid underneath blankets
like a kingfisher and waited for you
for hours, until eventually the clock
stopped working and my father had
to come in to get me up and turn on
the light and put on the air conditioning.

It was 83 degrees the day I came back,
heat swelling from the ground the way
your cigarettes did, dangling from
the fingers of your left hand like old puppets.
Later that hand would find its way into
my body and I’d go numb. That first night back

you read to me the way my father always
did; you were best at making me feel
like I was three years old all over again,
vulnerable as the rats quietly roaming
our ghostly wet basement. You read Narnia
until I began to sleep. I hated my snores
but you pressed my face to your stomach
so that I could hear the beestings that roamed there.

Look, they’re like yours, you wanted to say, but you
never knew how. You could never hammer
words the way most could, but you still
made me ache like the high school chorus:
goose bumps against arms against desks,
shivering all over again underneath ceilings
instead of skies.
Jun 2014 · 388
Poems for Fathers
loisa fenichell Jun 2014

I have been waiting 10 years
for father to stop hiding
underneath the wooden table
that rests hunched and gauntly
in the living room.


It took father three days after I was born
for him to finally hold me; now he tells me
that his hands were splintering too much,
but I’ve seen enough of his palms, covered
in plant & ash & soil, to know better.


July of 2000 we sat tucked away
like old wolves’ fur
into a blue station wagon. I refused
to talk to anybody but my father.
I sat the way he did, shoulders crooked
like the gardens of elderly women. I talked
the way he did, too, drawn out and low,
like swirling concrete.  


Now I stay alone in his apartment
and sit out on the fire escape
and annoy the neighbors with my smoke
and watch the cars go by and wail
the way the city does at night.
I think less about my father
and more about being alone; I think less
about being alone and more about
how I can take away this skin, this body.
My body looks just like my father’s
and I hate him for it.
Jun 2014 · 904
loisa fenichell Jun 2014
A shallow lake off of I-95. My mouth was a water fountain. My back was arched the way my mother’s was the day she gave birth to me. My belly was round and steep like the high peaks that circled our watery bodies like branches of snakes. By the lake there were woods and in the deep mouth of those woods we lay with sweaty arms and burnt legs. You groaned as though your mouth were full of wolves. My eyes were tightly sealed. I thought mostly of my father and of the bed that I slept in when I was three years old. I thought about my grandfather’s hands, too, stained with beer and old milk. It was like I was leaving my mother’s womb all over again. Thought: this is what it will be like the day I give birth. Thought: the trees are bent at their waists the way my brother always is; he sinks into himself like ocean. Back at the lake you unwrapped a pack of cigarettes and I unwrapped my mouth, vomiting into the sand. Nobody else was there. I remember you always smelling like smoke. That entire time we were awful drivers.
Jun 2014 · 929
Driving Lessons
loisa fenichell Jun 2014
Somewhere it is 1942 and Grandfather is alone
in uniformed dark hair, flying over mountain ranges
that look more like steep moonlight than anything else.  

Today the sun is sharp and pronounced.
Today the car is warm as wrinkled skin.

I come close to crashing five times, thinking about
Grandfather’s cool bald spot and about the time
he took me for ice cream. Three years old
and he told me about money and afterwards
Father yelled at him while I played with blue chalk.

Two years later Father watches his father’s ashes dangle
into the Hudson River and two years after that
I see a puppet with the same bald spot as Grandfather’s. I tell Mother
that they are now making puppets out of the dead
and Mother just smiles down at my short body.

That night I dream of underwater graveyards and puppet shows.
Apr 2014 · 478
loisa fenichell Apr 2014
The last time I was home I was 18 yrs old
& here I am again & there’s already
dirt in my bed. I like the tall tree in the backyard
the most: it is the only one free of snakes. Snakes
crawl around the others like crowns of teeth.

When grandfather was alive
he  took me to that tree & picked me
an apple & told me about family, i.e., mothers tied
to mothers tied to mothers; now I am
the only daughter. Grandfather told me
about my birth: my mother cried until her face turned
transparent like the thinned out wine that my
father drinks at dinners, the wine my mother tries
to ignore: she’s terrified of her ancestors, all

drunk like barrels of young boys. I had three
brothers & they are all dead now: an ocean,
a car, a burst of lightning.

I don't think about them anymore.

in bed,
at home again, I listen to my sheets as they rub
against my legs like a child's chalk to sidewalk.

These days most of my dreams
are about my grandfathers: one was arrested &
the other an alcoholic but they knew how to love
the way ghosts do, all hushed & subtle & colored quietly.

One day I will learn how to sing
the way the women at the local church do.
I know nothing about Christ, but I still
stand outside the open stained glass window
with my eyes closed & pretend that I can feel
the pews pressing against my body like a boy’s hands.
Mar 2014 · 338
loisa fenichell Mar 2014
the gas station
down the street
is never dry of fire

this is where
the neighborhood boys go,
usually, when they are tired of being
viewed as cliffs
on the sides of highways.

(when i was younger
i had a brother.
at night
i can hear my mom
bruising apart
in his old room.
i stand in the doorway
& watch her
& wait.)

(her medication
works best
when she sleeps.)
lol couldn't think of a good title
Feb 2014 · 354
Jagged Summer, 2012
loisa fenichell Feb 2014
My family
rents a house
on a lake.
My first day there
I sit cross-legged in the water
until I have completely finished
picking apart my bones
as though I am a fish.
I hear my mother screaming
from behind the screen-door,
but I ignore her.
I shut my eyes.
When my eyes close terrifying shapes
flash across their lids: the first time a boy calls me beautiful
I run 6 miles,
because it is easier than turning my legs into trees.
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