by Shannon Baker

thorn-stomach, struggling, torn
the treble out of the tune.
quillfeathers, your ankles peeking
up from the center of the floor, legweeds.
cork piled in the trash heap. i can smell
you sweating thru the sheets, upstairs writhing
in the hallway, halfway between the
bedroom and decadent death.
downstairs, a week old cake traps
flies better than poisonpaper.
it’s giving the kitchen a sour hue.
knife handle, cracked open, the blade
buried in boring mystery.
the sink leaks. the freezer cracks every
hour or so, keeping time.
last night we pressed our palmprints
into the dust-layer of the television screen.
it was funny then. it’s still pretty funny.
the place where you threw up whiskeybile
on the stairs, and wept “i’m worthless” sliding
spinebent down the wall. then, before i could stop you,
you dropped your cigarettes in the doorway (they
rolled slowly toward the street) and
splash-poured bleach all over the carpet.
that was less funny.
two weeks later i scraped my knuckles on the concrete (only
partly on purpose) after we
had unprotected sex outside the bathroom, i remember
you finished (i coughed out a sigh) and
stood up and said, “well that was a really bad idea”
and i couldn’t stop laughing for an hour. we
broke the empty birdvodka bottle in the
garbage disposal. you scraped me off the floor.
there were the bones i hung from the ceiling.
there were the sticks from a previous yard.
there was the understairs closet, the smell of which
became a topic
of perpetual disagreement.
three-to-one was the door score:
i kicked thru three, you put your
fist thru the fourth one. windowmold
creepcrawling up the edges.
the ashtray we purchased together, always
agreeing on important things.
in the broken backroom we scratched
pictures in the rust that blanketed
the sink bowl.
you busted your face up when you
stumblesmashed into the waterheater, then
i held you you against the ground (still you
kept singing.) pacing, circles, thousands of them probably.
the linoleum worn in the middle, curling away
from the far corner. the night i rolled on the floor,
hysterically happy, until you burned yourself on the
stove i’d left on, that
was sobering.
from the parking lot it looked like the rest of the houses.
i was glad we lived to leave it.
i kissed each of the trees out back.
you didn’t even hit me when i made you hold my hand.
“thanks” i whispered. and you knew
i wasn’t whispering
to you.

2 thoughts on “thorn-stomach

  1. An up down joy ride skirting disaster every few lines. One hell of a trip worth surviving just for the record of the poem. “From the parking lot it looked like the rest of the houses” provides the perspective something like this could be going on in more than one place. What a world, what a life to be this much in touch with.

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