a summary of the incident of rape
splayed on earth
binds hairless skin.
smell of crotch
as bold as Ratatouille
spinnerets spinning still
on body of youth
toe across feebly
a summary of the incident
of rape by a spider
imbricating silk weaves
onto the body of
woman bellows from the pit
of woven crossroads woven
arachnid organ of
blood webbing –
on the seventh day
when all was spun
with eight eyes
gossamer of youth’s body
gossamer of youth’s dreams.
Soaping Someone You Love; for Beginners.
- Wash your hands; let it hold your soul.
When you touch him,
parts of it will erode.
You will lose.
Saliva to masticate
manure for pasture,
new tendrils on his skin
to climb and rope.
[You will not lose by the end of this, newbie. Soaping someone you love
who will never soap you
for the remainder of your soul.]
- Say grace.
Thank you Father
for this blessing.
- Bless him.
in the eye of your mind.
Call forth their gold, sapphires,
gemstones without names.
Give them all to him
before your eyelids bat
in second thought.
- Bless him more.
no second thought.
- Look him in the eye. Pupils dilating, shivering,
crypts and furrows of the iris making way
for his reflection,
now, safely ensconced
inside your head.
- Bend your head to his chest.
‘One doesn’t defend one’s god;
one’s god is in himself a defense.’ *
- Embrace what’s left of him.
He’s fought you away.
Chipped you off him
one grain at a time.
Parts of discarded you
hold parts of him
that tear away
In this room
is all he knows
as all of him.
Hold it, tight.
- Water him.
Lift each pot before you water,
slowly moistening his soil until full
running out the bottom.
[Move away; this is not for you]
- Soap him head to toe.
with and without
cheek, bones –
scrub him with all these.
- Erase him.
His dead skin
caked in your nails
is the second erasure
you’ll cause him.
goes down the drain.
- Talk to him in your head.
through unkempt meadows
hidden in overgrown grass
of curious childhood?
[Give him the echo]
- Rinse him.
Pay attention to his underarms
where soap sticks in lines.
Inside and behind his ears.
[Stop only when asked]
- Towel him.
Pick the towel off the radiator
where you hung it for warmth.
Make a joke running fingers where he’s ticklish
so there’s laughter even if the joke fails.
- Say, I love you.
He won’t say a thing
even in your head.
Soaping someone you love
who will never soap you
for the remainder of your soul.
[If it remains at all.]
*The Aspern Papers, Henry James
A and Another You.
A photograph of you, folded eight times to fit his hands
he opens like a flower, petals breathe to unfurl in his
palm, a you.
He smiles because it’s you. It was you. This was you.
He cannot shut up. His bangs jump with him.
This is the first time they’ve used the legroom.
You don’t do anything. You’ve never done anything
but become, stop becoming. Walls and places
that don’t move. He says settled. You say stagnant.
Why did he find a photograph of you in this house?
In the attic where you lay half face paralysed
a curly piece of metal pulling it in place by your lips.
It still pokes inside.
You’ve been there twice in the last two years and
it wasn’t to mop or dust or flick through these pictures.
You go to talk to all the yous you’ve left there.
The time you had a pox you scratched your plagued tongue
on the roof of your mouth wanting to retch
the blood, flesh, pus and when this wasn’t enough
you wanted to retch your mouth, your tongue, your jaw.
Spit out everything that may follow as consequence.
You never let him up the attic. It might
give him a run for his money to see your pox marked half
stands as half, guts, throat and other things in hand.
He called it the zombie apocalypse once. Rushed to put
his face between your breasts and you did what you knew
well to do, put your nipple to his mouth, to tears leaking
with milk drops down your belly. He sleeps standing
at your breast.
They said the pain’d go away if you gave birth.
You’ve done it thrice but every month a crippled you
lies on a scarred stomach in river blood.
His bangs grow on these three days.
He knows but still sits on your back.
A you in the attic told him to do so.
He reads to you through these three days. The same story,
the last story you wrote, about the lizard that fell every
day on your face in the morning when your tall hands
opened the door. It went on to say how its tail broke,
almost fell into your mouth.
He cuts your hair in front of the toilet mirror.
He is smaller than your head, stands on a stool with a blade
sawing your tresses because there’s no time to look
for scissors which is inside a box in the attic but
there’s no time to go fetch it because there’s no time
to console, weep with or breast feed, again.
There’s a you with the scissors who thought it right
to untangle a seemingly knotted vein with it.
She’s still trying, you know it.
The photograph of you is eighteen, a pot head,
a virgin who claims otherwise. You dated a sleazy
old professor who took pictures of your breasts
in the parking lot inside his yellow car.
You see his wife two days later, she throws this
at you but you cannot claim otherwise.
You look around before admitting it.
You’re a virgin.
In the photograph.
She doesn’t believe you. You tell
her he fingered you to break you. He didn’t
break you but went to claim that you were
already broken. You’re a liar of your body.
If I were your body, I’d send you out.
Ask you to find my hymen, give it back to me
so when the Professor fingers me
flow blood down my skirt, a little on his seat.
You want to believe you broke you.
You take the photograph of a you from him,
tuck it into a pocket. He’s asleep on a chair
when you walk to the attic of the home you
were born in, grew up in, fucked in, fucked up in,
and are fucking in. You return it to the you
who wanted to keep things in a box, safe.
All things of you. You look for the hundredth time
in it for your hymen. Still not a clue.
You break your knuckles. All ten of them.
In all the rearranged pasts and present yous.
When you go back and now it isn’t the same you
when I began the poem. Not even the you who
gave away the photograph or the you who got it.
But another who found the scissors and is so quickly
chopping, not cutting, golden straight bangs to fall
onto your legs, as he sleeps leaned in suckling.
This too, is one of you.
Nelly called the other day,
two beers in hand, the Green Hornet
and a seven month old.
Bruce Lee, Bruce Lee
she screamed at the door.
I thought twice to let it in but did,
no way to take only Nelly.
Two beers weren’t enough.
Soon Nelly’s boy friend
showed with two six packs
and I said I didn’t drink it.
She shouted at him and said
she’d already told him.
The mutt doesn’t remember anything
about me or you she says.
He left to buy some more
and didn’t come back,
the baby slept on the couch.
Nelly thought we were drunk
shouted Bruce Lee in a mask
Bruce Lee in a mask, black.
When the big screen was shaking
she turned to close the door but
hit the baby on the cheek with
It didn’t wake up, she hit it again
to see if it was alive.
I wasn’t comfortable.
Hadn’t been since that night
when the baby was in their couch
and I was there stripping like
a wild child in front of another
big screen to her boy friend
who wasn’t coming back
or never will.
Nobody gets these things these days
but it has intuition. It has sense
uncorrupted it can wake up one day
and say, she was there in front
of that man shaking and gyrating
a flabby tummy in a Persian
imitation of Nava Aharoni.
Kato says, excuse me, please let me,
the music goes tun tun tuh-duh da
On the third kick the door gives away.
Nelly claps in exultation, the baby
wakes up, shoots a shrill cry to us.
I in fright pick it up, run out the door
Nelly still goes Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee, like before.
In the wake of all things
that have happened to us,
we will cower into ourselves
without supplying space
for our spine’s breath.
From coccyx to atlas,
we will remain folded
till we hear dog chains
removed from around
our necks. Even then,
we will unfold only
in pieces unsodomized,
unraped. In count,
a few left.
Avrina Joslin writes fiction, poetry and travel essays, usually, about her childhood memories, sexuality and the body – all in fragments or new versions. She’s currently working on a novel which her best friend called ‘grossly erotic’. Her work has been published in Elsewhere Lit, EQView, Cadaverine, Four Quarter’s Magazine, Miso Magazine, Coldnoon Travel Poetics, etc., She writes at www.avrinajos.com and tweets @AvrinaJoslin