Liz Bowen

(1)

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with the opening of a container with the separation of a few indistinct and warm colors we are emptying out our rage and our devastation saying ‘this is red and this is orange and this is safe’ / i touch dead things as if they are living, full of care when i touch them and i handle the cracking parts with a hush and i handle the curling parts with a cream / my mom said don’t touch the animal bodies living or dead i now know my mom was wrong if their small bodies have a disease it is mine if their strong bodies have a disease it will fill up my locker with its sweet smelling fuzz / i love you deep in there with the mouse that died inside the stove / i love you in a repulsive way / since the election you don’t sleep until late and i sleep too early and she sleeps intermittently and she sleeps not at all / you cry over characters in novels i cry over malcolm x they are all dead and we can’t touch them / i don’t know about you but i feel the necrosis of my labor i feel the time catching and halting it feels rigged and unrigorous / dispenser of feedback basket of modifiers i would like to tell you more about how to improve this essay but they don’t pay me enough / they don’t pay me to take care of my eyes and my teeth / ‘do you think we’ll ever outgrow our shithead teen legacies’ i don’t know ‘you were a difficult child’ therapist says to me and i say yes ‘you were angry about your body’ i am angry about my body i am angry about the money it eats and eats with its bad organs / the body is with organs and i do believe that / the body is also with labor and rarely paid

 

(2)

It’s water season Babyyyy. Here come all the children of Tribeca back to see their vipers. June 21 solstice and already I don’t have enough money to last the summer so I spent $150 on poetry books before 10 a.m. Here comes my therapist asking why money is a sacred pile until it’s not. I happen to read several books about repressed memory; I happen to watch The Keepers. I am afraid of the human capacity to become-abyss though what I do remember is abyss enough. Last night I said, “Maybe you’re supposed to be with a socialite.” Last night I said, “Unbelonging.” I was raised corn syrupy and averse to compost I was raised in sacred gift cards. It is not only me who is hurt when I shrink like a vermin but it is only me spitting alone in the corner.

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It’s water season Babyyyy! I am fuckingggg fuckinggggg ggggggg ready not to hobble in disintegrating thrift store standals I am ready to take my top off in the sand! I am ready to pose with my top off while the NYPD rides by on their horses you fucking monsters making beasts irridescent sweat suffering in the sand. He’s a priest but I think he really wanted to be a police like his brother. I don’t remember the question they asked at the party, but I remember my partner’s answer was “Liz just really hates cops.”

It’s wwwaaaater it’s water how many of ur male friends talk about astrology it’s water it’s water Here comes the solicitation here comes the large beard in a small circle. Be easier, put your shame in the hamper Put simply your bloodied documents under the desk. Put simply family branches that have snagged your body parts out with the recycling Put simply what you remember where you will remember it. How many dollars’ worth of firearms are in my relatives’ basements? At least my books don’t kill.

Baby water crab put the pinch on me. Crab me to the floor you don’t deserve my horns or the slap of my mean tail. You know I am hurt but you don’t deserve my hurt. I shrink like a vermin under a frying pan. When we drink together it’s like we’re equals. It seems possible I could have a horse. It seems possible I could be disgusted by wealth without mocking it like a child. But we both know I wouldn’t hold a hide between my legs We both know I mock animals that sit aloft.

 

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Pinch the throb until it hardens until the stamen bursts. Obliterate its bliss. Lie down with the dog in the puddle and stand up slattern. You can’t become a vermin but you can become vermin.

NONE OF THIS SHOULD BE //// HERE

 

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Here is my acrostic:

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

N

A

K

E

Says emily says charlotte says my teeth bared to the turnstile

 

S

N

Abolish prisons

K

Every feminism that says otherwise is poison
S

 

Smile when ur making a “literary con

Nection” choke your jealous

Aches and when they tell u we’re ta

King it in another direction and that direction is w

Ealth you face the future, its maw

So bright-toothed it burns down every bridge

S

N
Ask

K

Enemies

S

 

(3)

BED DEMON

nymph demon

home sick from the protest demon

cv demon

diary entries in the cloud demon

nude metadata demon

SEXTUAL DEMON

SOILED DRESS DEMON

home sick with desire demon

eggslip demon

lickslip demon

mouthlip demon

cold sore demon

i demon

O DEMON

fur demon

vermin varmint varmit demon

scatter demon

slither demon

pin me open on the mattress demon

pin me open in the seminar demon

o fuck in the seminar demon

o o o demon

that hurts demon

THAT HURTS DEMON

watch me demon

green eyes demon

unencrypted feed demon

save to camera roll demon

DON’T TOUCH DEMON

janey smith demon

sula demon

daughter jane demon

cousin randolph demon

caddy compson demon

kim and kanye demon

many gendered mothers demon

the need to take in every text demon

tabs open you can’t bear to look at yet demon

home sick with sense memory demon

sedentary demon

bikini nicked demon

weeping on the treadmill demon

do you have a minute demon

what would you say to your younger self demon

i’m sorry demon

you’re ok demon

hold yourself demon

blankets and blankets demon

live in the capsule you build for yourself demon

without home demon

vagrant demon

live-in demon

landfill demon

take me to the outskirts demon

wrestle with coyotes demon

do they know you’ve wrestled with coyotes demon

do they know you’re tongue scruff demon

mean and tender demon

diamond ring in the x-ray demon

they don’t deserve you demon

don’t love them demon

don’t let them demon

O DEMON

O DEMON

NO

 

(4)

i used to ask how not to be embarrassed and i learned my lesson
how not to be devastated though
how not to be undercarriage crawling
carrie lorig my favorite millennial poet says
I PUT MY DEVASTATION ON THE GROUND AND PAY IT
MY DEVASTATION
I PAY IT
i hold these lines close
i turn them around and over and turn them over
i imagine a mineral called devastation
i dig it up i put it back i dig it up again
make me a power abject
i want to stop owing my devastation i
think it should pay me
my devastation should make an offer of me
don’t you think my devastation should put me
on the table
DON’T YOU THINK MY DEVASTATION SHOULD OFFER ME UP
it makes me an object already
trying not to throw up in the back
trying not to collapse at the protest
i want to be a useful body and instead i am a quivering body make me public put me in the way
but if they pick me up it could kill me if a cop
takes my medicine away i am no longer a useful body no longer a potential body
could still be a body getting in the way though
if you know what i mean

djuna barnes: She prayed, and her prayer was monstrous because in it there was

no margin left for damnation or forgiveness…. She could not offer herself up; she

only told of herself in a preoccupation that was its own predicament.

god my body is a joke it keeps living and living
on medicine of last century i have built my career
on refusing the notion that a sick life can’t be
a good life on refusing the notion that being ill means
desiring a cure but god i want a cure so bad my bladder
is full and my head is fog and i don’t want to go blind
if i have a baby / i have been sick for 15 years i don’t
remember anything but sick and i’m fucking sick
where is medicine that could make the good feeling
stay i want medicine that could keep me
from scratching the frustration out
of my arms / i am no longer embarrassed
but i am devastated i am shattered by this body
and it could be gone i could be gone cure me baby
god doctor i don’t pray but i talk and i talk and i talk
and i offer myself up to the fire escape and i offer
myself up to the crosswalk and how do you keep
from telling your students you think about
wanting to die too i don’t know / you give them the
resources the same ones available to you the same ones
that fail you and you act like you know you act like
you know HOW NOT TO BE DEVASTATED
HOW NOT TO BE OFFERINGS UP
HOW NOT TO BE A REAR VIEW

A FREE EMBRACE

A MOTHERLY CARRIAGE

“JUST CHECKING IN”

EMPTY OF COMPASSION

A CHAPTER SCRATCHED INTO THE MUD

A CHAPTER HE WROTE

A LEAKING FOUNTAIN

HOW NOT TO BE MONEY ON THE TABLE

 

(5)

PUT MY DESIRE IN A BLOOD BAG

PUT MY WORK HORSE IN A DENSE BRUSH PUT MY SHAME IN THE HORSE’S MOUTH

I PUT MY SHAME WHERE IT IS WOVEN THROUGH WHERE THE SWEAT IS IN THE FIBERS

and it is browning and browning and drinking the stale sun a timesheet of wanting

and it is in the work, you know, i have not

produced a text without writing over want

i have not produced a text without turning my back to my pressing body

and where is my fucking recompense

i mean where is the time i might have been fucking it is here it is here do you feel it

it is here where the text bites down

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Liz-Bowen-Dream-Pop-Press

Liz Bowen is a writer, scholar, and editor living in New York City. She is a doctoral student in English and comparative literature at Columbia University, where she also teaches undergraduate writing. Her first poetry collection, Sugarblood, was published by Metatron Press in 2017, and her work has appeared in journals including Cosmonauts Avenue, The Atlas Review, NOÖ Journal, and Gigantic Sequins.