Breadcrumb #438

MICHELLE WHITTAKER

Down-and-Out sleepwalk
hand-in-hand like two lone star ticks
found buried above the sternum.

Watch them trance.
Watch them yawn
wilderness into a nighttide.

Often, Down-and-Out transmit
their anesthetic touch to the other, although
they decided not to conceive children.

But how might they continue
traveling turpentine bloodlines
in this bog-iron island?

Watch them headtrip.
Watch them overthink as a single them,
strobing through the pinelands

while gorging into the sand gully
of pine tar and vanishing foxes.
Watch them no longer concerned

they might split as they release
care about the rocky beaches
former self. The glacial physique.

When Down-and-Out exchanged vows
sub-secretly just like the late-stage
of Lyme disease, who also understood

what it means
on trying to stay together
in sickness and in helpless,

even when 12,000 years tried
putting in a bright repeat
of parental advice about sustainable living,

perhaps from the supervening
or superstitions, they woke their wishes
to un-hear the veracious warnings.

• • •

Breadcrumb #426

ASHLEY LYNNE

your words were heavy chains around my ankles, steel boots upon my feet
i was atlas, a world perched upon my shoulders
i broke my back to lift your two ton, black heart
there was no longer a need for a cage, rotting carcasses will not grow feathers
stone hearts will never take flight

thanksgiving came and went, you could have used my spine to break in half
there i had grown my wishbone
i still don’t know how much milk it takes to calcify a backbone
but i never stopped searching for any words or phrases or quotes or mantras to chug down
dunking cookies of wisdom into my cup in hopes that i would no longer be the girl with the glass bones

shatter me with words, clenched fists, tightened jaw
twist every connected strand of consonants and vowels into arsenic
you dipped my arrows into poison and turned the bow against me
i was inhaling you like cigarettes, getting my fix as you slowly stole from me
minutes, seconds, hours, feelings, firsts, hopes and dreams
blackened my lungs as you tore out my seams

little rag doll that you tossed out into the waste bin
who knew i had an expiration date
i didn’t realize until it was too late that you had decided
i would either fall into submission or be the first or second draft you sent to the shredder
you sucked every bit of marrow from my skeleton
you drained my life force every time my no’s were choked out and you heard “yes” instead

the thing about being caught in your undertow of your pirated ship is, i was bound to learn to swim or drown

• • •

Breadcrumb #405

BUTTERED ROLL

My mother taught me that

Empty stomachs

Are good sources of

Renewable energy.

She never served a meal

On a paper plate.

My father is 45 feet tall;

and, on occasion, an optical illusion.

He’s been standing

At a roadside rest stop

Halfway between Medellin and Bogota

For the past 37 years.

He gave me

An appreciation of silence

And showed me how

To hold a candle

With a phantom limb.

Albert Einstein was an eclipse of the sun

Caused by well-placed wooden nickel.

He once explained how mutual attraction

Turns me into a liar.

And sugartooth,

I can’t forget about you.

Thank you for teaching me

How to sell my inheritance

On Craig’s List

For a few shots of Jameson,

Broken Blood vessels

And fragmented memories

of bathroom floors.

As you might be able to tell

My blood has been curdling

For some time now.

That being said

Thanks to Howard Dean,

for teaching me how to

Effectively express that feeling.

And, of course,

Thank you to Jesus

For giving me an

Irritable amount of intestinal fortitude

and an extremely short memory.

 

Nothing but love

For my bartender,

Who happens to have

A very comfortable couch.

An adult diaper

Full of the Oedipus complex

For my therapist,

Who happens to look a lot

Like my bartender

Salutations to Irish whiskey

And all of her friends;

For teaching me

About the burning sensation

That is a symptom of humility.

Much love to

all of my sock puppets,

current and deceased,

for teaching me

the finer points of

mental health awareness.

My love to

the necromancy department

at the museum of natural history

for resurrecting ancient history

and ensuring that Jeff Golblum

will destroy us all.

And, quite honestly,

The biggest, most erect,

Showing of gratitude to god itself.

Thank you for minding

Your own business

While watching me masturbate.

While watching me run in circles.

Thanks for providing me

With the illusion of agency.

You’re correct,

I meant to go face first

Down those staircases.

I know that you and my NSA agent

Are both very good listeners.

Which, is maybe

The only reason why

I feel it’s even somewhat necessary

To appear appreciative

For the loss

That I’ve been given.

• • •

Breadcrumb #311

JULIA EDWARDS

My body is an inlet
    in a ripple
I tie up    my shadow  
to the nearest   docked neighbor 

On a bright day
I’m a droplet   gone rogue
     refracting a child   in yellow boots
picking up a shell
    helloing   without echo 


   I help myself   
to the laws of physics
   I help you
walk the dog, unpack boxes
wearing    a raincoat inside, I wade

While the world moves around
  in my  apartment   
I am America’s greatest
whirlpool in the light spot
Kibble glistens   from the rug 


The heaviness of the sun
will crush us but love
is still      the boy
on the burning deck
     trying to recite   "The boy stood
on the burning deck"
         You know the one

I borrow a line
of salt   blown out through  the nose
      of a bigger whale
This is what I mean by landscape
A sea monster I can't pronounce
rolling up at the edges   with references
    I don't know   anything about
that footnote / the epic / your
ghosts / those sirens

but I hear them
from the street   running
with expiring meat
while I tread the Mediterranean
    a foreign couple
on a poop emoji   passes by
holding hands   through the current
I want to make someone cry

The world is ending & I'm nearsighted
  I throw an iris
perpendicular   to the end
of the earth’s rotation
  It throws back
a wet rope / some kids
  eating sandwiches /
a watering can / 
broken vanity  mirror floats

The night zips up its jeans &
   hello, I am    your born again water
     unresponsive   to the tide
when the moon calls

• • •

Breadcrumb #223

CLAIRE ZAJDEL

i know two places – 
in one i learned to stand, 
in the other i learned to
stand on my own. 
the hominess of the Middle
is uncategorical and undefinable – 
between the wild onions and
the queen anne’s, i
was laura ingalls and dependent
but free. 
when you’re from the Middle, you
think ‘anywhere but here’ because
somewhere there must be
more to be than laura and her
field of weeds as far as you
can see. 

on the East side there’s an ocean, but
no one notices it between the buildings
and the personalities. the city is a
cacophony, not like the one in the
Middle where everyone says ‘hello’. 
everything has splendor, i noticed
at fourteen when we rode in that yellow
cab and saw the bodegas with all their
outdoor fruit. 
‘it’s just like the movies’ 
(except, off camera where there’s
piss and garbage and ambition
that tears benevolent souls in two). 

i wonder if it was the narrow
streets that made me ill or
maybe the passage of Time
reminding me that pretend is just
for children and that little
house costume doesn’t fit
anymore. faster and faster, until
i can’t see him, 
Time, my measured friend
is changing. he’s more harried
now, like he’s caught
the quickness of those blue streets
and decided he’d better speed up
if he’s gonna make it to the top. 
i call him
but he’s on the other line. 
i just want to know where it is
i should live until i die.
call waiting is what
they spoke about at mass – 
a space, not
safe or damned, just room for
old hope and second chances.

but nowhere is different, we are always
in fragments. in
the Middle we turn off our brain
while in the East we are served our
own heart for dinner. we can only keep
a little slice of ourselves in
this wide country. 

i want to be whole, for Time
to dance in his metered way
again
so i can glue the
pieces of this forsaken land
together
with my sticky little life, and
maybe
hold it in my hands
and smile. 

• • •