When I’m Awake, but Not Awaken
by Kailey Tedesco
How wild do the parasols roll open
on this morning, dark & hot? My ankles are
tired, yet energized & I keep my gait
to a quick creep. The moon
& sun cartoon themselves against the
horizon, each of them squinting,
each of them trying to make
out the words a little faster. I am still
still & lifting myself the best I can
in this old zip-dress. To look up
is to beg for something I’m not ready
to ingratiate myself for. Gaze escapes
my body in the séance of walking, feet always
conjuring new sight. Mother sings a strange
song about railway injustices & I pretend
not to hear her. I’m eating porridge like
a fantasy. In the story, my hair is not so
tangled with grease. My body grazes
bladed ceilings & I wonder how high
a spirit can climb without a burst of helium.
Marya Murders the Deathless
After the Russian folktale of Koschei the Deathless
Thank the Lord I’ll never know
the slip of blade & skin, blood
is shadowed & sunlit at once –
my dress caught on an crystalline
branch, my dress bleeds its own color.
It feels submissive & I know
this island wants to possess me
& erase me, wants to swallow itself
into a new soul.
Bleeding out feels like climbing
trees – you try so hard to keep me,
but somewhere there’s a god calling
& I say no & my skeleton craves
more bones, his bones like oak
& glutton. I sin all seven ways
& feel no contrition. The bishop
says he’s never seen a portrait
of God & I believe it.
I used to collect crystals inside
a chest of fool’s gold. When he stole
them, I put a hex against his house
& stole his rabbits – they liked
me better, but refused to reproduce,
refused to cough out
the skins I needed.
This deck of cards has three eggs, Fabergé.
They oscillate in carnival & he
says he doesn’t believe in me & he says
pick one. Remember when Mama took
bites from my Halloween chocolate?
There were no needles, but if
there were, I’d keep them for my
embroidering – I’d flagellate.
In the end, it is always me &
a man – a man of bone alone
all voodoo pricks & I stab
Did you know the sea
is a visage of slaughter? I think
I will cage him there & swallow
salt like a feast.
Kailey Tedesco is the author of These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press) and the forthcoming full-length poetry collection She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publications). She is the editor-in-chief of Rag Queen Periodical and a performing member of the NYC Poetry Brothel. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In 2016, she received her MFA in creative writing from Arcadia University. You can find her work in Bellevue Literary Review, Meat for Tea, FLAPPERHOUSE, Mass Poetry Poem of the Moment, Prick of the Spindle, and more. For more, please follow @kaileytedesco.