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loisa fenichell Nov 2014
it hurts to breathe it hurts to breathe screaming ‘oh god it hurts to breathe’//this feels like a birth this feels like I’m giving birth//everything hurts to breathe & to move my stomach feels like piles of childhood beestings & my throat like tired eyes//it feels like your body is on top of mine again & I want to scream & I am screaming so why does nobody hear me//my roommate is right next to me in her bed yet she does not hear me//everybody is on top of me & I am screaming prayers again ‘it hurts to breathe it hurts to breathe’//it hurts to breathe so much I am not pregnant but oh god it feels like I am//like I am giving birth to the antlers of road ****//my belly pulsing like the abdominal region of a manta ray//ghostghostghostghost everybody jeering ‘ you are a ghost’ everybody making fun of me ‘you are a ghost’ & it hurts to breathe but I am not pregnant & you are not on top of me you will never be on top of me bruising me or my neck or my collar bones (which don’t always feel there)//us in cars listening to sad songs//us in cars listening to ‘i’m never going to understand’ listening to elvis depressedly all summer long//something seems so ****** up about that like I’m trying desperately to sound hip but I’m not I swear to ******* god I’m not (**** me **** me over **** me//but don’t//because I never want to feel your hip bones scraping against mine again//your hip bones were so sharp your hip bones they ******* hurt I was in so much pain back then)//your car in the summer felt like a desert church
stream-of-consciousness or something i guess
loisa fenichell Nov 2014
desecrating the bathroom floor of a home that’s barely my home with blood or *****, what’s the difference? it’s not even my bathroom. my bathroom is one flight up. a boy I barely remember is talking to me & somehow I’m talking to him back, or am I? feeling dizzy like a sunburn with plenty of ***** left to go around still in my throat, plenty of food still in my stomach. 15 liters of food in somebody’s stomach could make that person’s stomach explode. sometimes I have dreams about stomachs exploding the way the sky does just before nightfall, like it has a virus or something. a girl walks into the bathroom & I’m still sitting cross-legged on the floor of this stall wanting to throw up but trying not to, a plastic bag next to me, and an open wallet, purple water bottle. every bit of me wanting to tighten up like a small dog. I picture bruises opening up across the backs of my legs. I picture grandmother commenting on the size of my stomach when I see her tomorrow. my grandmother has wrinkles deep as the belly of a pregnant cow. something about the way I interact with my grandmother reminds me of the skeleton of a dead bird. like the dead robin I saw walking to the bus stop from my house, on broadway, next to the old synagogue; dead robin reminded me of a ****** up crying infant & I wanted to bury it like one. (a girl walks in on me in the bathroom & I squeeze up, hush up, she sees you, it’s too late, swallow your skin.) everything these days reminds me of a ****** I saw once on T.V. with some boy I can no longer remember the name of.
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.
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.
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
also, why is this so usual for me
i’d like to say that now is when
i think about everything
monumental, like the economy
or my parents hurling pebbles at
each other’s backs or watching
“iron man” with my cousin on christmas,
feeling like some kind of tourist in my cousin’s bed,
i.e., is this what christmas is supposed to feel like?
i don’t know, i celebrate chanukah, please let me know.
sometimes i think about my brother
in the woods,
is there smoke lingering on his palm?
i don’t realize how much i care about him until i do, until
my eyes are dark out, until my eyes match
the insides of my stomach.
but usually i am thinking about you, or us, or we, last year, sitting
together like static tucked softly into our houses. you were
always digging graves inside of my neck because,
we’ll die soon but before that we’ll get married,
except wait i’m 18. my stomach still lines my throat
when i swallow pills and i don’t know how to cradle
anything else other than my knuckles and there are plants
in the windowsill and i water them, sometimes, when i feel
like it. when i was 13 i saw blood streaming my underwear
and i told myself, this is it, i’m with death, i knew the doctor
was lying when he said i was so healthy.
when i was 13 my mother came into my room
and said, “look, now you can have children.” i was 13, now i am five years
older, i still cry when i think about mothers. how easy it is for them
to lose their children. like once i watched “boy in the striped pajamas”
(on my birthday) (how stupid) and i cried for three hours afterwards because
i felt like the mother, or just a mother, or my mother and her mother
and her mother and how we could all easily pull away from each other like thread.
once a boy from my school died and another time a girl from my
camp hung herself and i cried for their parents, mostly. i didn’t
know how to cry for myself yet and i still don’t. i’m tangling
other people’s emotions around my throat, i’m still trying
to find mine. mother tells me, you’ll find them if you clean your room.
mother says, look at how much you’ve grown. i am churches of guilt
when i don’t believe her. there are always people praying
inside of me. nobody should ever pray inside of me, least
of all you. if anything my hands are two skyscrapers
but that’s the only kind of building i know how to be.
i’m sorry, i’m in bed googling ways to leave somebody
without hurting them and also without being selfish. i am so
selfish, like leaves covering sidewalks, i am so selfish and i am
so sorry and i am crumpled but also i think i’ll be okay and
maybe one day i’ll think of you without feeling so sorry for myself.
loisa fenichell Feb 2015
The ghost boys howled like loons. The ghost boys
had bodies that twisted away without warning, bodies
that forgot to root themselves down anywhere,
unless they were rooting their hands down onto skin
without warning. When I was younger I scraped my hand
onto my pronounced clavicle. My initial reaction was to bleed.

You loved the girls that lined the public bathrooms. They had
brown hair that reached down to their jawlines and they
filled the gaps and the gums of their teeth with orange juice,
to raise their blood sugar, after they vomited, after the cuts
appeared on their faces (doctors’ orders). Their cuts
curved outwards like fields of orchids. Back then, standing with them,
my stomach was sharp as a state I’d never been to.

I’d never been to Georgia, with its strong heat.

Your face in a dramatic bed is not without heat. I am not cold. I was born
in the state far north of here, the state with the birds (flycatchers, kingbirds,
vireos) and the gas station. The gas station never caught on fire, although
I had a dream of you in my bed: in it you were on fire,

the fire mixed with heartburn. Quickly you turned into my grandfather.
My grandfather liked to sit in his brown wool armchair
and smoke pipes and eat black currant pie and listen to Merle Haggard
on the record player, in the wooden house, next to the lake that in late
December rippled with waves. Grandfather died in December.

I still don’t know how to have dreams in black and white.
I don’t know how to lucid dream, either.

Your body, no matter what, mixes with shadow.
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
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
The baby is born to the death walls
that line the cellar. The cellar is dark
and musty like the inside of a mouth
that has seen every forest in the world
that needs to be seen. There is animal
screaming and cheeks wailing and blood
smashed. There is the floor: cold as bath
water or lungs or teeth or healing. She
wanted a midwife. The midwife looks
ashes of change, her hands shake  
like a pale fire. Her hands shouldn’t
be shaking, I want to say please, leave
the shaking hands to us, we are only
a professional family, but you are really
a professional, your brain is snowed with
palms that knead proper parturition. But
my mouth is tight with breath and ash.
loisa fenichell Feb 2014
I get an email from you January 10th also known as the day on which we were supposed to drive to PetSmart together to buy a fish. We were going to name the fish Wendy, we were going to buy Wendy a bowl with a small castle, a moat, even a footbridge; her lifestyle was going to fit so eloquently with the color of her scales. You sent an email to me January 10th. The email was empty space, like the air that sometimes curls itself between teeth and moons; your email against the screen; the screen glowing like some faraway whispered death prayer. I don’t remember what you wrote but I remember feeling like a forgotten alphabet; not once in your email did you use the word “adore.”
loisa fenichell Feb 2015
The car we decide to drive looks
like a crooked body. When Leo and I stop at a gas station,
we enter the bathroom, look into the full-length
mirror. Even with him standing up, I can count
all 24 of his ribs, all of them poked out and looking
like nooses. I imagine witches dead and dangling
off of each one of them.

He is that thin.

The way he looks
reminds me of my father.
Right before my father died,
his face looked like cruel weather.
My father in a hospital bed,
my father in a coma.

Right after my father died I listened to “Wild Horses”
on repeat. The lyrics seemed to fit well with the white
of the hospital walls (I know I dreamed you a sin and a lie.)

When Leo and I get back into the car
I put on “Wild Horses” again.

Leo was not there the day my father died.
Leo did not come to the hospital once. Leo
has hands large as Vatican City. There have
been times in my dreams when Leo looks more
like the Pope than he does himself. Leo’s skin
is not nearly as wrinkled in real life.

In the car we eat cheese and peanut butter crackers,
drink cartons of orange juice. I eat and drink until
I feel sick. This is normal. In this heat, sticky and dry
as the corners of my mouth are, it is all I can do not to make
Leo stop the car so that I can stick my hands down my throat
and *****. The vomiting is normal, too. I have only

just met Leo. It was me who suggested this trip, my body
in his bed, me staring up at his ceiling, and it was me
who was surprised when he agreed to take it with me.
shoutout 2 my irl friend leo for letting me use his name / character in poem bears no resemblance to him
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
My body is best
at disappearing when placed
underneath the sun.

There’s a five-hour
time difference between oceans
and my clay body.
haiku, senryu
loisa fenichell Oct 2014
neighborhood boy spends all night in the diner over by Main Street or in the stone library across the street. He can’t tell the difference. I am convinced that he is just like me: because of the way our eyes darken so easily, like a pile of dying moths. He likes places with booths where he can sip his coffee all slow and seductive. He doesn’t know how he’s like with his hair dark and falling over his eyes the way a mother drapes around her new child. He is surprising in that he has never touched me. Once we sat next to each other on a train with the windows foggy as steep mountain and he never touched me. We only spoke to each other once (he asked me if there was a bathroom somewhere). He was reading about a small town and his eyes were red like he’d just gotten back from war. He is the kind of boy who looks like he is always just getting back from war, who looks like he could only love his mother if she were dead. neighborhood boy has a chipped left tooth and ankles that look like they should be covered in blood. neighborhood boy is not my boy. neighborhood boy is not my boy. neighborhood boy will never be my boy but I will still watch him drink his coffee. That time when he talked to me he sounded like a lost wolf, like somebody who loves to live in car crashes.
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.
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
loisa fenichell Apr 2015

a message from a boy i don’t know
that begins with, “i’m J’s cousin, i’m trying to locate her, can you....”
i don’t know how to deal with those
who promise death,
so i don’t finish reading it,
bile mixed with guilt building in my throat.

last night J told me her body was falling apart.
i didn’t know how to respond.
i know bodies without bones too well
but i don’t know how to talk about them.
i don’t know how to parse away
the skin from the bone of a pig
when i’m standing in the middle of a cold barn,
more naked than i was when i was born.


i am naked with boys who i don’t know,
but who fold me in half anyway, then fold me apart,
then spit me out like i am
the bitter taste of a dead dog.


keeseville, ny is upstate is a place
for stained dresses & burnt milk & spoiled prayers,
where i spent every summer in a body
made for somebody smaller.

i’m realizing now that i’m not small,
everyday i’m the opposite of small,
but these boys still look at me
with frightening scrutiny like i’m a goat who belongs in a bed
& if i’m not pet, not fed, i will give out.


sun hangs across the sky
like blood across my underwear.
yours or mine?
from which part of the body?
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
There is a line that curves across
the middle of my stomach like the kitchen
of newly weds. Its twin is only two inches
above, rests right below my *******, which hang
like empty carcasses. I am still embarrassed
by them, even after a girl told me that it is ok
if they are not so full or small, in fact it is normal.
I remember that hers were full and small, I remember
that all of the boys loved her. I remember her complaining,
too; it was her skin, I think (its color). My skin falls from
the wrong bones like sinks or manmade waterfalls, both
of which I have learned are the same only nobody will
ever admit it, least of all my father. My eyes are the same
as my father’s, my hands are his hands, and then there is my face,
which rounds like a mountain range. My nails grow dirt easily.
My belly is the most vulnerable in that it corkscrews out
like the bottles of wine that my family drinks at holiday
dinners. Last night in the basement a boy touched
his hand to my gut and I had to move it away, I had to move
it again after he let it ground onto my waist. Today I
am afraid that this is why he hasn’t asked to see me tonight.
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
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)
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.
loisa fenichell Jan 2015
when brother sings he sounds like church bells.
when you sing you sound like the dark circles that rim my eyes.
today we are all drunk & today it is raining & today my father
is calling everything beautiful, then yelling at me.

it's like we're playing ring-around-the-rosy all over again, standing
& circling on dirt roads outside of white houses covered in pink flowers.
we're three years old & so far nobody has died.
i d k ////
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
Here all of the walls are dead.
Here I am a noose in the crowd,
and I am scalding in a puffed winter jacket.
On the subway there is a girl I recognize;
she looks like the nightgown I had
when I was three years old.
It was blue threaded with white.
I wore it like a second skeleton.

Sometimes now I have dreams in which I am
standing outside wearing nothing but the nightgown
and I am trying to find the moon, but it is gone,
it is not even night, it is not even anything. Then
it is morning and I am sprung up panting
like a motorcycle, my skin turned to waves.

I get off at Chambers Street, accidentally
bumping into the girl before graphing
my way onto the platform. I forget
to apologize, I forget how to speak,
mostly because the nightgown is still
stapled to my waist and won’t let me go.
loisa fenichell Mar 2015
(My fingers won’t stop growing like shells!
My fingers won’t stop growing,

but without water, just with food!)*

As I stand in this bathroom stall
in this congested church
I can’t stop thinking
about how much I hate my fingers, about how much larger
they suddenly seem. This stall is stained
in blood and *****
and graffiti that reads, “girls day 11/13/14.”
Nothing seems so sad and so dry as this stall does.

I think of you sitting in the pew
with your hand on the thigh of the girl
whose hair is sheared short as though
it were Judgment Day and she were an apple tree,
its branches cut into small, fragile pieces.

On Judgment Day
my grandfather died
and everybody in my family
and everybody in my town
went to the funeral

except for me

who cried
and cried and cried

and I’m still crying

for the way his skin used to fold over
like a moon violent in its softness:

1. he’s a dead man with a body like a fish
who has just ripped off its scales.

2. he’s a dead man who before he died liked to stand
on top of the one cliff that looks out onto town  
and yell, “I will not spill my guts!”
But he died anyway.

Would I be lying if I said I loved my grandfather? Would I be lying
if I told you who I loved?

Here: I will tell you who I love, for a dare (triple doggy dare style)
Here: this is an experiment
Here: on Judgment Day (on the day my grandfather died)
we’re all experiments; we’re all experimenting with those we love
in terms of the way we kiss them:

we go into the woods
just to touch each other’s chests.

We lie on tops of rocks and I kiss you
as though I still need more fat on my huge body.
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.
loisa fenichell Oct 2014
The first time I ride the subway by myself
I am 14 and expecting ghosts: I wait for them
to appear in the train windows like strong clusters

of wind but instead everything is still and crowded
with nothing but ripples of people. The first time I

ride the subway by myself I am 14 and expecting
some sort of suicide. Once I read about a woman

who hung herself from the metal bars that line
the ceilings of the trains, hung herself

like a constellation dragging down from
a lit-up sky. I drew a picture of the woman

and then a picture of her family but then
realized she probably didn’t have a family

and quickly threw the picture away.
My mother found it, saved it, it hangs
on the fridge now. The first time I ride the subway

by myself I am 14 and I want to kiss someone. (I come close
to touching a stranger’s hand, then his waist, then I recoil.)
loisa fenichell Feb 2015
I have chapped lips, red skin, no bones, no blood.

Think of blood/think of hands.
Think of hands/think of blood.
Think of blood/think of hands/think of me,
with a cigarette in between my teeth like the corpse
of a puppet.

The two of us each smoke a cigarette for the first time
on streets dark as the water that leaks from a body
that has just fainted on a bathroom floor: There are times
when I picture myself fainting on a bathroom floor, with
a bit of blackish blood cornering from the tip of my mouth,
me nauseous and vomiting. I’ve never told you this and I won’t now,
even though it is night and I am lying in your bed once again,
once again my stomach feeling too much like I have just ****** an ex.  

A story about ******* my ex:
once after we smoked we tried to **** on the carpeted floor
of my father’s apartment, lots of sirens and taxis crowded
outside. I didn’t have any collarbones, any hipbones, panic
sweltered in the back of my throat like a cruel joke.

I am going to make mixed CDs for everybody I love.

I am going to let my hair down, I am going to forget to wear chapstick,
or worse I’ll remember, but my lips will still be chapped. A lot of the time
in my sleep I am asking you where my bones are. Or I am dreaming of old
women, old women who are either grandmothers or witches or both –
I can never figure it out. Neither can you, who are supposed to be so intelligent.

You are so exhausted, of everything, like a newborn.
You have never had a beard. My mouth tastes
like peanut butter. This is not a good thing, even though
I like peanut butter. My mouth tastes nauseous. Don’t you
dare kiss me. I am afraid to even kiss your cheek. You with
tall bones and lanky spine and the eyes of somebody who should be sad.
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")
loisa fenichell Nov 2014
Your legs are not mine/these legs are not mine

There is a girl somewhere (on my bed) and she is crying in me
with me
when I see you I see

flesh and her
and three people entangled like meaningless holidays
on a rough and broken couch

my body stretched out
my face wet with newborn sweat

you compared what happened with us to a birth
but this is cold stinging your throat

we are like childhood beestings

we will always be
like childhood beestings
loisa fenichell Feb 2014
I’ve never swallowed
this type of burning before,
but now here I am, late at night,
with my skin bridling itself open
like chalked lungs.

The hardest parts about this are:
learning what it means to no longer
be half of myself and waiting
for the day when I can look
into the mirror without firing
apart the deep wells of my gut.

Now I am carefully inspecting
my casualties, teaching myself
that I cannot be casual without
turning away pieces of myself
until I am small tornadoes, i.e.,
no waist and no fire.
loisa fenichell Feb 2015
I sit on your brown and ***** couch with my legs
folded underneath my ever-growing body.
Your house makes me want to *****, but I’m too afraid
to ***** inside of your house. You never *****: you’re too
tall and lanky, your spine too well-dressed. You never bleed, either.

I always do; always when I’m with you
there is blood on my big toe, blood soaking up
the skin that sighs in between my large legs.
Do not touch my legs, or my stomach. I used to know
when to stop with you, how to stop with you.

I stopped feeling safe with you this summer.
We both had chapped lips. The states we visited
were as dry as your dusty and battered car. We spent
this summer sleeping together atop unfamiliar grounds.

Not once did we have *** in your house, but still,
now that I’m here, my stomach is in pain as though we did.

I still want to *****. My mouth still tastes like your car, like exhaust.

Somewhere in the background you are calling me beautiful,
somewhere my eyes are closing, then everything is yelling
the way a father does. I am trying to remember being three years old again,
everything pink dresses against grey houses. How much would you
take care of me if I told you I was sick? What would you do
with my hair? I have dreams of you in which your body
looks like that of a still born’s, your face like cancer of the bone.
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.
loisa fenichell Dec 2014
My parents when they slept they slept with snakes.
My parents when they slept they died, every night, in cycles, like monthly blood:
the first time I got my period I was 12 years old and wearing jeans
newly stained and thought that I’d killed a man.

There are still times when I think that I’m killing men, or boys, by accident,
because of all the milk swirling around inside of my collarbones

(there are still times when I think that I’ve killed you)

When you sleep you whisper to your parents. Did you already know that?
Have you already told somebody else about the way
your body looks when you sleep, all stretched out like the legs of a newborn?

You’re a boy with hair as red as emergencies,
a boy who belongs best on subways, with your body lanky,
with your hands like skies gripping onto the metal pole.

Later after dinner I am that metal pole, only with a larger stomach. My stomach
is always largest after eating dinner. Your hands are always the most over a girl’s body – your hands the most like skies – after dinner: this is the worst horror movie:
my stomach popping like a mountain or an ear high in the sky (or, worse,
my stomach never pops, it is always there).

In November we are in a parking lot
(it is late
it is full of rain) and you don’t know my voice, a voice sounding
like ****** up broken jewelry.
For my birthday you gave me a bracelet you found in your mother’s bedroom
and it broke two days later, beneath a softly lit streetlamp.

Somewhere in the middle of a sidewalk somewhere near the east river I am holding the bracelet and crying water from littered water bottles but nobody sees me (or:
it’s all a dream, and it happens over and over again, cyclical, the way my parents used to sleep, used to die).

The two times that you’ve rejected me:

once: my parents with banged up bruised bodies in the hospital // when I saw them lying in between sheets cotton like your t-shirts I fainted
twice: the funeral is back home. I fly there and my ears won’t stop popping,
like a mountain, like a too full stomach. At the funeral I forget hands
like skies at the funeral I fall in love with everybody I see at the funeral I forget that
I am no longer in the city (I can trust people)

I see you now as a ghost: when two ghosts **** we are horizon over a snaky river when two ghosts **** we are flying back to the state of my birth
when two ghosts **** (in ghost parents’ bed) we sound like car crashes
loisa fenichell Jan 2015
I’m holding my father’s baby teeth in my hands. They’re pressing into my palms the way I wish your nails could. My mother through walls thin as her body is using the bathroom again. My mother has eyes like the antlers of a buck. When it snows my mother is outside with her fingers encircling a purple plant and the plant is now dead. When it snows my mother’s mouth can be seen disappearing into flesh, her face disappearing because it has no flesh. She is standing on the porch again watching you drive. “I Need My Girl” is a loud song and it is playing softly from your speakers.

The last time I held your hand in a car we drove for two hours like Magellan in circles around the outskirts of the town. The river coursing like the chest of a swan just about to take flight. The river coarse as childhood hair, hair without showering. I hadn’t showered in two days. This town would be better with large fields, more cows, some highway and cliffs. As it was: it felt too much like we were driving somewhere; it always does when you are in a small town. We drank from wine bottles shaped like our father’s heads and sat on straw chairs underneath strung-up white lights. The lights were there all year hanging from a tree that in that muddy heat should have been palm.

What it was: this summer your body reminded me of somebody else’s body all lanky, the one difference was that you were there and he wasn’t and now it is winter and neither of you are here and my body is in bed moored by hives the size of your large pale feet.
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.
loisa fenichell Nov 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.
whoa v old!!
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.
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
ghost in a gutter in a sidewalk
once i taped my body
like dozens of wires now
i lie down palms flat
atop vessels of pavement

i can tell you so much about
wiring also about breathing
forests into your lungs, they
haunt your lungs like the child
my mother never gave birth to,
i’m not convinced that it’s not
still in her womb. they called
it a miscarriage but sometimes
i see the child when i’m taking
a bath; stare at my fingers
and the wrinkles are newly
discovered bodies coddled
by electric fences.
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
Brother drowning
in a plastic bag in
a car driving west. 3
years old and face
turning bruised as
a forest’s march. It
was the first time I
realized that death
didn’t have to be so
cradled and rocked
by sticks of blood. I
don’t remember how
long it was before Mo-
ther noticed. But when
she did she turned pale
and ragged like old we-
dding dresses, or like
grandmothers’ feet.
loisa fenichell Sep 2014
~deleting this 4 now 4 reasons but if u buy a copy of the next issue of 'winter tangerine review' .....~
loisa fenichell Mar 2015
The two of us pick chicken eggs
in heat sticky as a mother’s breath.
The heat that rises off of the lake
in the summer feels worse than any
awkward kiss. Your body is taller today, your hair
slightly lighter. We pick chicken eggs
for our mothers. Our mothers wear dresses red
as the entrails of flies, and sit out on porches, and drink ghostly milk
from sweaty glasses. We watch them drink the milk
and we picture them as newborns. I wonder if you sometimes
picture me as a newborn. This is the first day on which
I am afraid of you. My hands blanket my stomach (hands like wool);
my stomach is growing larger everyday, gutting itself out
the way the waves do off of the lake when it storms. It’s because I’m
feeding myself too much: this is what I get for being afraid of you.

In the summer we get too many bees. How many calories in a bee sting?
How many of them can line the inside of my mouth, all sharp and dangly,
before I die the way a snake might? How many calories
are in the shadow of a tree? Us and our eggs sit underneath the shadow
of the largest tree we can find, with me trembling, without tears, without *****,
just a wooly mouth. Today, I’ve never missed anything as much as I miss
my own ribs. Today, you look beautiful like the largest cow. Today, where
are my fingers? They used to be so long. You used to be too afraid to touch me.
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
Toothpaste caps line my desk like the speckled tongues of my grandparents.
My cheeks swell every night before I go to bed, like drawers
of babies, like the cheeks of those who spend their lives
with their faces tucked into pipes and gutters and grills.
I am chopping off a bit of the tooth that sticks out of the gum
that lines the far left corner of my mouth and I am giving it to you.
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
in response to matthew zapruder's "come on all you ghosts," section ii*


I see what you mean about fathers; lately
my father has been the only ghost I know. He
mostly stands in doorways, mostly to say goodnight.


Please tell me more about what it’s like to listen
to your father cough. Mine never has; I wasn’t even born yet
when someone stole his lungs, hid them away in a graveyard.


I think I want a keychain like yours. No not
a keychain, but something just as much a corpse. Mostly
just a portrait of my father, maybe I’ll take your keychain
and onto it I’ll paint the portraits of everybody’s fathers.


I know I’m being called, but I don’t
feel quite like my father yet. There is
still so much pavement left for me to see,
and one day I want to be able to list all
of the names of places that I’ve lived in.


I’ve lived mostly in wombs. Also
there was the taxi, and then the apartment skewed
with a crib and rats and some gunshots
from down the street. Later there was the house
by the river, and there was upstate, where
they sat in beach chairs in the parking lots
of gas stations and watched the cars drive by.
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
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.
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.
loisa fenichell Dec 2014
there is rain and there is lightning and there are trees
and in one corner of the field there are two women
with wrinkled faces and long white skirts, making
their presences known the way you wish your grandmothers,
both dead, would. they are picking flowers just for you
(for your hair); hydrangeas and lupines.

in this dream you do not have a name – in this dream nobody has 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 –
old blue dress curled carefully around your knees – are dry
as your lips. you notice your stomach churning. you are standing
in this field and you notice your stomach churning as though
you love a boy. you do love a boy, but not like this: your boy is quiet
as your childhood house, and so your love for him
is quiet as well (it never churns). you dream about the boy,
but he is the wrong boy: a boy suddenly in the corner
of the field, a boy with a face too loud, like the flickering
of a dying light bulb in a darkening closet. this boy has replaced
the women with wrinkled faces and long white skirts;
they have disappeared the way grandmothers so often do.

now you are ready to wake up.
in bed next to you is a boy
and he is sleeping
with a body soft as the entrails of a mother.
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
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
loisa fenichell Feb 2015
In October we picked apples that tasted like the tops
of teenaged mountains, apples that were colored red
like teenaged brides.

In October, a reminder to self:
Don’t ever forget the teenaged years.
Don’t forget the boy with the tongue like slick arrow.

The school was painted white with green trim, and the two of us
stood behind it like a pair of stag deer.
Remember: there is a difference between grey and white,
and I am not colorblind. Remember: this boy’s face was grey as the robe of a young monk,
and I am not colorblind.
(Remember: This boy is not a monk.)

Don’t forget being thirteen with hair licked short like a small body.
I stood with five other girls, I was flat chested, I was lying
about a trembling kiss. When one girl cried I should have remembered
to mean well, when mother called I should have answered, even
after she died, even if sometimes

mothers **** children. It’s just that they do so without realizing it (usually).

(Remember that mothers often lack bodies).

Reminder to self: bathe,
wash behind the ears: the chalk that still rests there from grade school.
The teacher made me write
I WILL NOT ****** BODIES, then, I WILL NOT ****** MY BODY, then,
each statement ten times over on the green chalkboard.

There was a hunger in my stomach back then,
rooted down like a pit of shaking guilt.
We ate apples covered in teenaged blood.
I could not shake it, the hunger. I still cannot shake it,
the hunger. We continue to pick apples with bodies
that are meant to be sorrowful.
loisa fenichell Jan 2014
Let me writhe on pavement ripped
by sun. Rumor has it that that’s how
my mother was born.

Rumor has it that that’s how I was born, too.
I picture my birth the way I picture the bible,
happening between two gentle and soft fingertips. Reverent whispers,
because, not to brag, but I was the first child. The first child,
the hardest child.

I like to think that it stormed that night.
That the rumors are wrong.
That I wasn’t born in the sun.
That the night of my birth, the electricity went out,
and my parents were left without light.

I like to think that they wept when I was born.
That they wept again when they could finally turn on a lamp,
and watch its sparks burst the way I did from the womb.
loisa fenichell Nov 2014
Television screen flashing. She’d drowned beautifully and balanced. Officials said she had a beautiful body. Officials said your
family will become your favorite T.V. show: family dissected
to display ****** systems. Santa Barbara. August 20th. Your
sister apparently killed. Welcome to the site of the endangered
bodies. Her body handed to police. We are excited to release answers.
Body believed to have belonged to your sister has been found buried
in a river bank in mountainous Santa Barbara. This is where you live,
in mountainous Santa Barbara. Authorities say that you should
look forward to what your future holds.
"flarf poem" (4 a class)
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