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May 2023
Dressed for the opera,
abreast in a fight.
Pressed, mixing my mouth
with your gore,
unsure who I’m lighting torches for.

We held a crass kind of funeral
then washed our gloves in separate loads.
I’ve vacuumed meaner shadows from your rug
and ironed colder syllables into pleats
down dress pants, through ribbons for my hair.

You've tried to unknot the longing-
that low ache of a feeling never quite named.
It’s there, somewhere behind your sternum,
stringy, sticky, and bright.
I’ve learned to corrode that carnage
in impolite ways, then wreak havoc all by myself
near the wrought-iron gate where the singing stopped.

I’m making vain jokes,
tongue-trilling venom smoke rings above your head.
You're draining dank drinks,
tongue-twisting for the mouth you had before mine.

Two seats empty in the mezzanine,
two bracelets spoiling in separate drawers,
a too-long gown; hacked and hemmed,
silk gloves anointed by a
carnal evening prayer.
You wear a suit most days,
I want to *****
and gripe in formal wear.

For a moment it’s the feeling of forever,
the inside-taste closing in on never.
Crisp, autumn night,
brisk, dusk fight,
The fall falls, the trees tease,
branches strip their civility-
and so do we.

October- I limber-lithe and lilt,
not even a trace of you in my mouth.
November- I double-knot laces,
bare my shoulders, and start to shiver.
December- I’m back at the gate
singing hymns to an ivy-laced lion face.
I'm searching the dusk for torchlights, groping
for another temper to press my thirst into.

By solstice I’m back on my knees,
ironing pleats atop the hardwood.
I petition ***** litanies to the congregation,
(us; your unmade bed, bare chest,
my inside-taste, our matching bracelets.)
Your heavy gaze and fervid eyes
narrow with each call and response;
ready to pounce.

Dressed for the opera,
abreast in supplications made holy
as we learn our echoes and braid
our mayhem once more.
The only mouth you long for is at your feet,
velvet-warm, and full of prayers you can taste
but not translate, sigh but not speak.

My mouth makes your mouth tease like trees,
match our screams,
cross our hearts, drink, and dream.
We’ll tangle in everything,
empty our cupboards and start again.

We put on our evening gloves.
This afterglow is formal.
playing with rhythm and rhyme
Kiernan Norman
Written by
Kiernan Norman  Connecticut
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