It is not commanded.
Not peaceful nor calm.
Not the warriors clad in white
trained to protect their queen.
She doesn’t wear a robe,
but an apron of pale blue
and listens to her advisor speak
not of devotion, loyalty, or love.
Instead he has a warning.
Their purpose forgotten,
her soldiers attack and
her bed floods with blood.
Near Cimarron, a scout camp sprawled—
a smorgasbord for my virgin lips.
The dusty, cracked shrub encased perfect
bluegrass and a terracotta villa
with trophy heads of gazelles, buffalo hides,
and an ivory keyed piano.
But outside someone not so exotic attracted me.
My finger curved, beckoning the faux-cowboy
to follow me down a dirt trail to a dead
tree grove. Famished hands wandered up my back
and I pulled them away. Mouth clamping,
teeth carved my lips. The cowboy
only held back because of a black
tag and white garments.
I left for my tent, trying to hide
my swollen face.
A book leaves, slips,
nothing in the out
one, two, three pale
my eyes on
the face in the page
and their eyes
are on me
My terminal ileum—a stricture
milk, and meat, neglecting
nutrients I need. Without
the strawberry red
liquid vitamin B12, my brain
and shuts down.
With a 1.5-inch needle, I extract
the 1mL vial and plug
into its battery
as I stab my naked
thigh, installing the vitamin,
rebooting neural networks.
This amped little 1mL vial,
taken once a month,
keeps me at full capacity
so I won’t be defunct.
Father tied them up
in the home—
just for a dirty
kiss dragged out too long.
But they seemed content
as he was pruning
their dreams so
the rustling family
tree could live on.
of experience, the fools’
purple mountains crumbling
under, up to peaks of triumph,
and into purging tombs—to heed
the echoing cries of loss
and longing playing repeatedly
inside us all.
snacks on the crisp green leaves of
My cucumber salad might
taste more delicious than his.
On an early summer morning, she wears
her dress with red dots and ivory lace.
She sits by the white curtains and stitches,
nodding off to her grandmother’s chatter.
“Hullo!” a voice calls out from the window.
A prick and a sigh, she places aside her
bloodstained embroidery to move the curtain.
From the window past her vines, the man grins.
He holds a bouquet— her garden flowers!
“What is this?” she asks him, forcing a smile.
“I saw a blossom more beautiful than
those on the vine. These are for that blossom.”
Lips pressed together, she plucks a single flower.
“Why, thank you, good sir. You are ever so kind.”