Excerpt from FLESH GRAPHS

1. I alphabetize the girls by tens and letters. First: Annie and her cellulite thighs that made her say of herself: walrus. I would bite them with my too sharp incisors. Second: Betty and the weird sounds she made that were more like birth than sex and her pinup rolled back hair. Third: Carrie, and her light moustache. Fourth: Diana and her autumn mouth and how she always burned cookies. I stop at six because that’s too fucking sad but I think of her knuckles and the sound they made against my forehead still.

2. The birth was a slick of fluids I never knew existed, the color spectrum on a palette of torn labia and mewls. My baby’s face looks like a burned cat and I don’t want to name this cartilage watermelon, this alien kitten. Instead I let it bite my torn nipples and sing lullabies in the language of my mother that I never bothered to know.

3. Marco says, you like the girls, fucking them, I mean? I think, have you seen my haircut? And the way I know how to walk in strip clubs, how I know to hold my over-priced beer? Asshole.

4. Every time I sleep I dream of an abscess, usually on the side of my face. I squeeze and an explosion of pus, a tidal in my fingers and I don’t like bandaids. I put on my wife’s lipstick.

5. You put your hand against my thigh. We both pretended it didn’t happen.

6. Sweep of bracken dripping down my legs, I don’t like cotton so I push other things in it: the end of a silk scarf from a husband, a string of pearls, I think of fruits but I can’t fit them, so I leave the stained twill bathmat and walk around my flat with the scarf and pearls flapping against my legs. Brandy’s coming soon, she promised me cake.

7. I loved you, the shape of the dark crescents of hair on your legs. I sweep my fingers into your ear, caviar-fingered, I sumptuous them into my mouth.

8. He snarls when he is happy. I touch his underbelly like an incantation.

9. She wrote me a letter and said to put my dick in the envelope. I’m thinking stamps and postal and the crisp white.

10. Cocaine sunset, Jane says he did it off her nipples and it felt like summer. I think my mouth is too hot so I rub it on plastic, spread the bulky flesh of it with my fingers, I feel the crack of skin and the dry winter of it.

11. I put vodka in my hair for kicks, then try to snort sugar. My eyes are a cesspool that cowboys could drown in.

12. I didn’t know what to say so I thought about kissing him and pulling the seafoam of his hair into my mouth.

13. She touched my ankle, so I touched her neck, and then the spaces above and below it. And then she touched the bony expanse between my breasts and I thought about saying stop but instead decided to go on a scavenger hunt for places to bite: the space of her belly before her groin, her knee, the scar on her back that I lick, she laughs like a broken clock, and we both say enough to love.

14. I like the parts of your body that show between the clothing, I tell him.

15. She takes a razor to her thighs and wrists in the shower and we both pretend not to know. I listen outside, ear against oak for the evidence of a vein split too far.

16. I flinch during needles and sex scenes.

17. I want to break my baby’s bones, little and crunchy, to raise them into my mouth on a spit. Instead I suck the things he has sucked, pacifier, I tried my breast but it was too sagged and I couldn’t reach so I fell back a dirty wilted plant and pretended to be a cave woman.

18. When you come to the wet sad thing. I never work nights. A bathtub cut. I left my thong in his shower.

19. When I be kissin Baby Jones at a party I forgot to take out my retainer an he split my lip clean. He asked me to marry him later, bitin his caterpillar mouth like a methed-out vampire. I said yes.

20. He’s almost a virgin, a slip of friction between hip bones was all it was, he tells me. I feel the static of hair bristle between my wrist and eye sockets.

21. We all pretend not to see the birthmark splotches, the track marks down my arms. We just offer some concealer, maybe a sweater.

22. I take a Sharpie to my breasts, arms, legs. I start to draw a map of London but then just make koala faces.

23. She wanted to make me scream, a screw-driver, a curling iron, three jars of preserves and a lighter. “This is how we love now.” Electric grid my thighs.

24. I put my nose against yours and counted to four.

25. I like the parts of the bodies of boys that don’t connect, the galaxies of skin, their noses make bridges of star-burst cartilage. The way they bite their lips like dry fruits.

26. For the metro-sexual: vanilla and tobacco. For the rich and unsophisticated: faux cut grass. For the depressed: absinthe and musk.

27. Sad sex on Fridays, a comet’s discourse.

28. We Christian girls put beeswax on our lips and holy water between our breasts and on our bellies. We tuck Jesus’s body into our clothing. Discreet, we think.

29. A slip of the razor, easy accident.

Front page image by Jonas Tana.

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