In Which The Monster Has Wings Made of Forest:
In other worlds, an angel looks like this:
eagle wings a shiver of thorns and shoulder blades spring loaded,
dirt orbiting above the head, Jupiter’s lost ring.
Unfortunately for you, this isn’t that kind of world.
Shirtless and posing, you are the January cover boy for Freaks Catalog.
You know degenerates slobber over these photos in horrible perversion,
your unwanted body with no master and no god.
You tried to pluck them once,
with pliers and your teeth gripping a wet washcloth,
nonmagic wings made of hemlock and thistle and vine,
with every tweeze they bubbled and leaked topsoil, pollen,
sap running off your elbows.
Later, you would know this as a practice of pruning,
of self-punishment, of white-flag to your misery.
When you dream, they’re made of porcelain.
When you dream, you aim the shotgun perfectly,
and they shatter. And you’re alone,
shirtless and a vessel in which nothing limps.
I’m Not Sick When I’m Sleeping:
I greet a dog I think I know and find it newly-mutilated, lean tight stitching across its back, a fresh pink stump where a front leg used to be. My mother says this is the 3rd iteration of the same dog, the one who just won’t stay alive for her. The boy from my 10th grade fling is there, pine tree tall, and we fuck sitting upright on the couch in his stone castle, Victorian, his quiet moans rumbling my body. Afterwards, I waltz into the fridge: smoked salmon, capers, a thin sliver of lemon, into my mouth with the thrill of all things bizarre and deserved.
This is the point I realize I am dreaming:
Not the misplaced castle,
not the dying dogs
or my 15-year-old body heaving with
an ancient unfamiliar joy,
not the fragmented way
time and place fall into my lap,
inconsiderate how only dreams
can be. It’s the food—
delicate, intentional, instinctual.
The untempered thrill of the salt,
the vinegar bite,
the guilt that doesn’t fit in the room,
can’t even find the door,
doesn’t know how to spell the name it gave me.
Imagine that kind of distance from what raised you.
Imagine the ropes that always tether,
a pulp of loose end fibers with all the shackles gone.
In the dream I eat from no plate
and there is no shame. In the dream
taste is its own god and I know how
I don’t think about being
thin because I don’t have a body,
just a sense of smell,
a lit firework,
and 10 hands,
ready to grab onto anything
that wants to see me light.
9 Years Old, November 1988, Okenfenokee Swamp with Daddy:
The good body incapable of milk.
Wonders, womb just for kindling?
Just a molten bowl, just a blood offering?
But all the wit in the world won’t bring her a baby. It’s been 9 years.
I was a strange shock, 14 and Daddy Tried Whiskey For The First Time.
Heave Heave Heave and I arrived, white as a cotton bud.
Now the swamp steams. The switchgrass rigid and still.
“After you,” Mama said, “You’d think Georgia never saw wind.”
Harder to be good here then it is to drunk fuck and shoot blind,
but I try. I do.
Counts for nothing when the moon ripens and the peaches fall plump and ready,
all the country men out for their trouble.
Daddy brings in an alligator twice as long as me,
muddy scaled and snowglobe hard eyes
instructs me slice muzzle to tail.
My cut’s a little crooked and the hot blood runs to my elbows.
The skin isn’t as tough as it looks
and he wraps it around his arm in one long strip, a party boa,
pulls like ribbon and There She Is, pink and naked below us, hide-free, a prize to claim:
he killed it, he stripped it naked, and she’s perfect for a purse, for a pair of shoes, for a
sacrifice to some nameless and unfussy God.
Later, in the swamp-tent, Daddy moves over me naked and vast as night and There She
Is, My Baby, My Baby,
a field of new poppies: meaning sleep, meaning peace, meaning death.
I’m praying for all three but they don’t come.
The bright Georgia moon, the cicadas screaming me awake.
Those are lucky bugs. Only singing on the hottest days.
98 degrees and the dirge is strong. We’re talking death-songs.
We’re talking newly dead. Me and the gator. Pretty pink. Leaking milk.
Effy Fritz is a poet and scientist from Brooklyn who believes the most important aspect of poetry is the act of deliberate word choice. Her work has been featured on MTV, Button Poetry, and decomP, among other places. She holds a BSc in Neuroscience and is currently immersed in immunological research at the University of Pennsylvania.