13.

In the Realm of a Disney Princess

God’s own son is stuck at Customs in a railway station near the border. The ladies of border control can’t be bothered to look up from their iPhones. There are so many refugees around, and more coming all the time, and most of them have only a bit of white fluff, a tandem bicycle, a bowlful of agriculture. Machiavelli didn’t say, “Lick the tire of my bicycle,” but that’s what he meant.

*

Good thing you aren’t here. Now that the clocks have fallen back, the clouds resemble aging potbellied cherubs. I have never seen anything like it before. Vehicles on fire, houses on fire, the wheat on fire. Telephone poles flare up like matches. The small hours are the worst. Self-doubt pokes through my normal fa├žade. I try to sleep but am constantly interrupted by the first sentence of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.”

*

Customers achieve absurd levels of violence while ordering lunch at Mickey D’s. Only an eye and a hand of the counterperson remain. And I was just about to ask, “What advice do you have for young people?”  Everyone seems to have a theory about which side is responsible for this crack in the Earth’s magnetic shield. Thank God it’s still possible to re-create a LSD trip, beginning with a blow to the face.


*

12.

What Can Go Wrong

A woman with the flat black eyes of a raven stood on a foot bridge over the canal, staring down at the mossy water. It was a popular spot for suicide attempts. One-hundred-and-thirty-four people thought they were first in line. I considered saying something. Sorry for the silence, but whores in the doorways of their places of business were trying to catch me by the sleeve as I passed. Only a couple of days earlier, parents and children had voted, and the results had been near unanimous: red buildings, an old tree, a small factory, and a portrait of Dr. Mengele.


*

11.

Origami Swans

Tiny scraps of frayed paper
pulled rigidly from twisted wires
of a spiral notebook
this is where I find god—
in empty, ink-steeped pages—
my heart.       

My bra squeaks around my
thick torso,
distended ribs,
almost crying out in shrill agony.

I am the Tin wom/Man.

I cannot leave my mind
long enough to love myself—
to fall in love with this body,

and the universe that’s been dying
in my stomach.

~Jennifer E. Hudgens~

*

10.

Resurrection

Cast the circle in sea salt and
wet bones, praise the body politic
that pulled them under ground.

Hail corners of the dark, soft,
red clay, slurp sulfur from
matchsticks, wine from your chin—
pretend this is your blood.

Focus on constellations, eclipse
a full moon, name the sky,
pour into a pool of your sorrow.

Ask your familiars to say their 
true names, borrow a tooth or claw,
fashion a pendulum, ask it if
you will survive this.

~Jennifer E. Hudgens~

*

9.

Yellowbird

I watched a Youtube video
of yellow—bellied chicks
en masse

loaded onto conveyor
belts, sped through metal
tunnels, and

swallowed by trap doors—
tossed into red plastic crates

if not fit for slaughter,
thrown
& terrified
into a large,
shiny-bladed grinder—

I ate a chicken salad sandwich
a few hours ago—

I hate myself for being a murderer,
and for having liked it.

~Jennifer E. Hudgens~

*

8.

Blood Orange

I want to make myself pretty—
grasp my small fists around rusted pliers,
I will rip out each of these chipped,
gapped-teeth,
blood tastes of nicotine and soiled nickels,
I place each tooth onto a half-torn tissue,
a few clanking into the sink,
lost years-of childhood,
exposed nerve endings wrap ivy around
my fat, acid-soaked tongue,
I gurgle a spring of blood,
back of my throat raw-
swallowing stings-salt water,
a lifetime of sorrow milked from innocent skin,
I slide my right index finger between my
lips-suckling-a pacifier,
paint a bloody cross near my sternum—
god never came.

~Jennifer E. Hudgens~

*

7.

Speculum
We are all post-human hybrids
Incoherent pieces
Sea ground glass bits washed ashore

There is no need to emerge
The general body plan is
solar, systemic, cnidarian

The mouth stings
Take your flea meds
Live above the float
Somersault tentacles
A separate free-swimming phylum
Its whole body reacts
Shakes out the hydra's head
*

6.
pap smear

Genital moths in these undercurrents sound
One zaps the other in a disco fight
In these frequencies the skin of light jumps
Echoes migration of cave etching
Sonographic teeth on the radio

Insectslips fight ultrasound with ultrasound
Grab the spiny-legged
Rasp of a scaly abdomen
My species a one-click strategy
My sensitive species

Hunter’s surgery
Any bat can squeak
Evolutionary arms race to the artificial version
The courtship call we produce
The pitch of a neuron crescendo
*

5.
hydrous borates

i went to lie down in a
ditch and turned instead over the spit
“buried strata beneath
a lake bed”
strata being skins of children
or animal pelts
laid on the winter ground
or         what is a deep burial?

is a cloud the moment
your heart makes
memory from breakage?
the splinters how they
hatched
conchoidal fragments
dulled from
the brutality of
cleavage and force

they said we would
fracture they wed
our skins in the hollow
gravity colorless
as the last
specimen


4.

After Cancer

Things were different before this
Before I knew this death was inside me
& can't be removed
I used to be alive
How to describe this state that I'm in
Some kind of limbo between life & death
I can't tell you where that is
There's no GPS that's gonna find me
One day there I was
Busting my ass in a factory
Just to make the rent
I'd come home & shake
I'd come home & puke
I'd come home & my roommate would be watching Ellen
So I'd scream at the tv

Then one day I wasn't working there anymore
It was the day after I told my boss
The doctor said I might have cancer
& he asked for a note saying I could work a full week
I never went back
Now there is disability & poverty
Now there are doctors & tests & needles
The nurses always tell me
No one should have to get used to this
My Aunt who is a nurse
Tells me nothings changed
We're all dying slowly anyway

~Michael D. Grover~

*

3.

This Death Inside Of Me

They say the cancer has spread to my liver
It came from somewhere
They just can't find where it spread from

They have scanned my whole body
One doctor says it's probably deep in my intestines
Another says it's not uncommon
For them not to find it
It's a mystery
Death somewhere deep inside my body

I used to just get sick
Honestly I've been on a run of depression
Since Scott Wannberg died
Since then there has been so much death
So much blood
I've been barely holdin' myself together
This death it was always there the whole time
Stalking, building

~Michael D. Grover~

*

2.

The Night, the Teenager, the Policeman 

It was too late to be out.
What if the dead crept inside the 
bodies of the living, tunneling a
way into bone and through blood
all the way to the brain cells?
It was not safe out. 

The teeth protruding from the 
ground were nothing compared to 
the fright of the flashing blue and 
red lights at the bottom of the hill,
cutting through night.

“What are you doing?” A voice called.
I am learning. For it is only when you are
dead do the living talk about you.
What do the dead do to make this so?

The blue and red patriotic fireworks
continued to flash. “If you told the 
groundskeeper to water the tombstones
more often, then you would know.”

Are the dead living inside of all
of us, telling us to remember them?
Are the dead pieces of ourselves, a
blunder of reincarnation? 

“You tell me,” the flashlight waved.
“Walking through the cemetery is the
closest encounter I’ve had with the dead.” 

~Tonya Eberhard~

*

1.

The Sound and The Voice

Good God

the sound that shudders and booms.
He is here, the ghost of each room: In the library,
the tongue of the chapel, cathedral of sinister hymns.
He walks. Papered and thin across the continent of Europe.

To the States!

Where I sob in a bathroom stall.
It’s 5:00 pm. The janitor whistles at home.
My belly swollen, bulbous, pale balloon.

No one sees.

This womb, heavy in iron
Holding a paper fetus. Not his.
Not anyone’s.

I have not fallen under the blue sheets in months.

Thunder, lightning, rain—
All these things tell me
I am going insane.

For I am godless.
I pray to thunder but not to Thor.
Who will answer my prayers?

Hollow belly, white and rounded
like empty hills.
Fill it with autumn leaves,
Witchery of the 3 am red moon.

So I can be still and hunger no more. 

Winter’s bone
Gnaw on this tomb, this flesh of my own,
a mother’s womb.

Abort this thing inside of me.
Had I been aborted I would need not
have learned how to feel.

I am an accident creating accidents.

These words collected as a soothsayer
Gathers bone to foretell the future.

“I will paint the larger picture,” she says
Shaking the brittle pieces of bone in calloused hands.
“I will give you a future to fear.”

And I say, “Fill me with your presence so
I can be blind and see once more.”

This is what they all say.

A voice screaming black crows from the lungs
Scatters crows from a tree’s bronchioles. 

Above, there is a knife to the paper moon.
Where is the cow, the dish, the spoon?

Heart dripping red and warmth
Knife through nectarine 
Oozing juicy catharsis onto empty plates.

Like the scalpel on the table,
in the surgeon’s hands:
the bloodied fetus,

it reprimands. 

~Tonya Eberhard~