by Danae Younge
Watch the flocks of headless swans
smearing arrowed feather stripes.
Their necks are severed,
crowns levitating on absent skulls
that they stripped, sprawled on the shorelines
like beaked garbs peeled away
before they skinny dipped
visionless into sunset.
Children are allowed to run naked.
Children are allowed to be jubilant.
And these birds disguise themselves
with bare veils giggling atop their bodices.
The troposphere sugars their wings in
the marquise rubellites
that cut cloud incisions
into my chest.
From the murk I see
my people perspire blood that
burgeons into the sky,
the sweet aroma whetting my senses
from afar, twisting them further
into my back while I plead in basements
underneath my family’s bedrooms,
the viscous guilt pooled thick and foul,
Metal Lock Box
My finger used to teeter on its edge,
strumming the crease to pass the time
like a rhythm bone ringtone ceasing
on my mother’s eardrums at work,
creaking down 1:00 AM stairs
burning restless stars through her pupils
& lulling me into my nightmares
while I slept on her probing chest,
pressed it into the familiar itch of the sheets,
crushed marrow cracks in her skull
so the white dust mixed with Earth’s grime
gathered at the foot of my mattress.
I fiddled with the lock –
relieving it while inflaming the metal sore,
watched it ignite inside me like kindling
& I never looked up
as the hefty crate became full beneath me,
swallowed pill bottles, keys to our garage
slithering with paracords & twisted nylon,
& chrysanthemum seeds waiting to germinate
reflections off the steel of kitchen cleavers,
& I did not understand that my hands
held desperate company,
that my mother was keeping me
from stabbing her too,
in the night, or on some evening
dripping from an officer’s tongue –
silence hanging when she returned home.