03-31-2020

Kendra DeColo

Dirty Talk

 

“Listen, even a lullaby can bleed” –Osip Mandelstam

 

Say my name like the last bright syllable

of olive in a martini glass, your tongue 

 

an eel deranged with moonlight

squiggling at the bottom of a gasoline-

 

dark sea. I’ve tested all the condoms,

filled them with champagne, imagined

 

a tiny house inside the reservoir tip 

where unborn children catch fireflies in a wet field,

 

their fingers pulsing with light

every time we play Pull-Out Roulette

 

or the latex doesn’t break, a choreography

of blackout and bioluminescence plagiarized

 

from an oyster’s bristled sheen. Love, we are ancient

as the first people who learned to screw standing up

 

against a pine tree. Only your murmurs can staunch

the fissures inside me. Touch me like an assassin

 

strokes the steps of a church. Say my name

until I glow, engorged and radiant

 

as a tick boasting her blood-swollen

hunger without shame.

 

 

To My First

 

“I should warn you, every guitar has its ghosts”- Patrick Rosal

 

 

Slick of muscle

and reverb lifted

from a musky case—

 

black and white

as a plastic cow’s hide,

udders strapped

 

with kegs, gold

foam spurting

into drunken mouths—

 

beneath my delusions

of James Brown 

and Little Wing

 

I played you with neon

in my blood, phosphor

dousing your neck,

 

a junky’s stammer

and scarlet twitch,

formaldehyde tongue

 

and red mowhawk

of the boy whose girl

I stole, sweet sticky

 

kiss, ellipsis

and staggered noon

hunting down

 

the last tingle

of electric teeth

and gun metal ache,

 

playing you until

my fingers bled,

until my bones shone.

 

 

 

The Perfect Aura

 

 

To have the confidence of a mannequin

stripped and starving on display

 

is half-way to being human as I am half-

way there most days, remembering

 

to be thankful for my teeth and good vision,

the taste of grapefruit and a woman’s

 

full voice singing fuck you  

as we pass briefly on the street,

 

the gift of invisibility granting me

another moment of freedom.

 

And then there are days when I envy

the plaster limbs poised in store windows, 

 

anemic auras grafted from steel

and artificial starlight, the un-desperateness

 

to live that will outlast us. My sister

tells me her aura has its own doppelganger,

 

smart as a radar looping around her inner-

self, her body shining like a car dealership.

 

She never worries someone will see

through the mesh of shaved metal, the red

 

halo of her wig. If I had her armor  

I would wear it like my favorite station

 

leaking repeat hits from a boom box,

slow and dangerous as a summer

 

verging on mayhem, loud enough

to remind every person I pass

 

that we were once a choreography

of particles glittering in the same

 

discotheque’s blackout, that says:

I am trying to transmit you

 

something, to reside in your ether,

not a confession but one long unfolding

 

salutation, like the sign at White Castle

whose message changes each Sunday

 

where I’m often stopped at a red light

wishing for someone’s hand

 

to touch me at the clavicle, to leave

a stain deep enough to last.

-from My Dinner with Ron Jeremy, Third Man Books (2016), selected by POW Spring Guest Editor, Luke Johnson

 

KENDRA DECOLO is the author of My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (Third Man Books, 2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (Saturnalia Books, 2014), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House Magazine, Waxwing, Los Angeles Review, Bitch Magazine, VIDA, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2019 Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and has received awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Millay Colony, Split this Rock, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is currently writing a sports comedy and is co-host of the podcast RE/VERB: A Third Man Books Production. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.