LIZ MCGEHEE






IN MY DREAMS YOU SLEEP IN BLACK SNOW

If this were a movie, it would be pornography. I forget that you are an actress who finds god in oil slicks. Don’t tell me this is a ship when it is a float of wooden bones. Don’t tell me I am a clamorous petting machine when I am just a nutria’s bent tooth. While you were stuffing yourself with nature, I was starving a naked plague, fixing an outcropping of glass in the yard. A dress made of spines you wore for me. Virginity, you called it.









I KNOW WHAT A TERRIBLE IDEA IS

I hear you are falling for a native now. In my head you wear coveralls while loving me into a bottle of wine. I need to remind myself to quit living quietly, to quit bleeding twice a day. Rusting like the handcuffs you wore at a gas station. Did you read my tweet about this? I chipped my tooth on a balled body. Had an ache, a horse born in my chest. I go to jail, because I provoked too much & you forgot to remove that bellicose tongue.







TELL THEM THERE IS MORE DEMAND FROM THE RIVER

I don’t know how to be cold or how to share the same man anymore.
I was thinking about how one day I will die. They will look at my hipbones
& know I was childless. You’ve seen the New World in the soil, the dwelling of boychildren scraping salt pits. One day our legs will cloister & testify to curling fat.






LOUIS ARMSTRONG GIVES FREE HAIRCUTS

There is a photo of a boy, lips tight, eyes bulged, pressed into my memory. He chops my hair with a trumpet in the background. When he speaks, I pretend my father knows how to spell my name. In the cathedral, we sit, knees vibrating, esophagi resting in collection plates. Next to you an armless woman strokes my face her shirtsleeves stuffed with air. Is this what a weather app feels like?







A CABIN I WAS BREATHING IN SAID “I LOVE YOU” WITH ITS TEETH

I fell down a mountain, twisting one ankle at a time & you were hung over somewhere breathing out a song. The night before, we saw debris welded to soft ground & your bones melted. We talked about when I was born from a piece of flesh, creatures hanging from my open mouth, how we met. Let’s talk about nose bleeds, patterns in skull slopes. I named a stuffed moth after you, buried him in my back. I am still trying to find out what happens at the end of childbirth.






SOMEONE HAS WRITTEN YOU A LOVE POEM BEFORE & IT WAS BETTER THAN THIS

Detectives watch the cornfield bursting with breasts & antlers. You are a baby slyly sucking on white snakes, baptizing our meat with your cotton tongue. I want you to exhale seeds from eyeless deer. Touch the slit of darkness bursting from their sisters. I found a new lord to govern my side of the body, a messiah made of cicada wings, ant dung, boy semen. Licking seems as good a way as any to achieve a christening.







Liz McGehee wants you to know that she’s from New Orleans, that she spent a year in the harshness of a Mississippi oil refinery before starting her MFA at the University of Colorado Boulder. Some of her work is featured in New Delta Review which is currently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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