I’m trying to learn how to write within parameters – how to follow a structure. I told this to one of my friends, and he told me to write a poem about oral sex that had three lines followed by a rhyming couplet. A little specific, if you ask me, but I followed directions.
two weeks asleep and the skin
has begun to part on leg-backs like
little toothless mouths leaking
onto satin sheets.
three months asleep and now made of mouths:
a chorus of gummy oozing things sucking
at the sheets. some start to grin,
flapping open like gills gasping.
six months asleep and thigh muscles begin
to dissolve like sugar, hot ’n sticky
mattress stains. bits of tendon settle
into fabric folds, an ulna lays
in pooling liquid like a popsicle stick.
two years ‘neath gossamer garments,
dress dried, draped barren over bones.
still a shadow of the body: dark like syrup.
dad asks on the phone what he is like and i say
he wears olive green corduroy and kisses me
on whatever part he can reach, he has wrists
like an isthmus and i count all eight bones
when they click together like river rocks over my body.
dad asks how he makes me feel and i say
have you ever eaten plums off the tree?
have you sipped pickle juice from the jar
under skin-searing sun, cut raw tuna
with the side of your fork?
i have never picked a plum with my teeth
but i imagine it never kisses back.
i put two fingers inside myself the way one does the dishes
efficiently, with short fingernails.
drinking the dishwater is part
of cleaning your plate