poem16 Jul 2018 08:00 am

This was me before, when I was
Lilah Jean
Two-seat top down smoothest ride around.
Buttercream sunscreen coins in my bra,
the sand on my skin a doublesweet nip,
sucralose and spice.

Queenie, they called me,
or Jeanie-baby, bikini brown and round
as a golden egg.

(But what’s a cocktail without some lime
to scald those sunkissed lips?)

This was me offering myself
westward, oceanbound, altarbound,
a sunlight sacrifice
tender to the bite of a highway
coiling out to catch
everything warm, anything soft.

(What’s the fun in the hunt
if you’re never the prey?)

Packs of cars in a gridlock snare
cleaved mountains to flee,
and every last one hummed
run little one run.
But the zip-tie freeways bound me tight
and the sunlight lashed me raw.

(Eat like a bird, never a buzzard.
Let the carcass lie.)

Look at me now.
Brown roots and sinkholes
swallowing plum-rouged bone.
Do you see the shade of hate
I use to line my lips?

Do you know my name?
Call me Queenie Cast off Her Throne.
Call me Jeanie-baby-cold-as-shale.

(Black your eyes after sundown strikes.
Prey needs camouflage.)

I’ll tell you the secrets I’ve learned
of this place:

By day it’s a vagabond liar,
a vaudeville ne’er-do-well villain clad in rags,
coaxing doubloons from tourists and dunes,
pawning castoff souls.

But damn, does it clean up nice by night.
Black tie, white-heat summer-boy smile
to kiss the days right out of your veins,
and it mixes a ruthless mojito
heavy on the lime.

(Beware the venom in a gentleman’s kiss
if you’re still warm, still soft.)

This is me after. They call me
ash skin and opium wit,
pale as undeath, thin as woe.
Get fucked Friday midnight closing time couture
in vinyl black as the absent moon.

There’s sugar-white sand on my lips
and poison in my teeth,
and I know now
how to squeeze someone tight.

illustration is Koga Badende by Koga Harue

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