I am honored that poets and writers have made work inspired by my paintings and drawings. 



Angelica Lebre

Tree Trunk, 2020

https://www.touchthepainting.com/post/tree-trunk




The works below came together as part of “heartbeats.exe.” curated by Elae [Lynne DeSilva-Johnson] at Peninsula Art Space in September 2019. 



Violent Ode to Georgia Elrod’s Skeleton Prom Queen


shake that gauzy bag of bones

lemme see them thai ice tea thighs

crash along femur shore, that lemon rind

electric denim thick in the sponge of your gristle

you antique rose, unreachable beyond castle gates

so round and sweet and plump

I wanna slide a cold needle

between your nail and its flesh

just for the thorn of it, a sword of black

and grey to keep you still where I can see you.

ah, there you are.

now you can be full flower

you can peacock your petals

and shed them all at once

now the jellybean of you has a stalk

a spire to hold the cloud of your vertebrae

the best promise a man can make

to hold you up.


Ashna Ali 


EVERYBODY’S HAVING A WEEKEND


Pain, it knows

how to network


better than you

do. It knows, too,


how to buy

an island,


its aqueducts

of pink shell flesh


buffering

every fault line.


When was

The last time


you ate from

your own apparatus?


Have you ever

seen the bone


I mean really

taken the bone


in

with the eyes?


I spoke

with a friend


about the blackest

blanket of blood


that rises up

more like a current


than like a garden snake.

She has parted


the guardrails

and she will do it


again.

She is strong


like a keyboard

and powered


by a diamond chip.

“New York


is sharp

and I am sand,”


she says,

“Particulate.”


A persistent pain

in the fingers.


*


Once

I did become


sensitive.

I did feel


the brain

send its charge


through the hands

and I did


feel the rug

send up its lightning


like some ugly

vulgar vitalism.


I had eaten those

mushrooms


and the spiders

rode the wind


as they always do.

In the park


I held my

own hand


and I died.

In the park


I held your hand

and I did not die.


*


Every few months

I dream a tsunami


on a beach

I knew by heart


in the last life.

Boardwalk high


on stilts

like a trapeze


matriarch.

The sand


cranes its thick neck

steeply up


to meet the town.

When the wave


appears

in the distance,


there is time

to scramble


up the slope,

even with the sand


turning to cement

as it always does.


The wave crests

as it always does


at the boardwalk’s

sturdy edge,


laps at our desperate

dangling legs like a dog.


We are caught

always.


We are killed

sometimes.


*


There are two kinds

of people:


those who make

burial rituals


to address the

human disgust


toward the notion

of being eaten.


And those

who think of fungus


as the one

and only funeral.


*


There are the poems

about being on drugs


and the poems

that act regular.


You might say

this poem has


no chill.

But it did


look down

and see its architecture


making room

for a fugue of worms.


It did look up

And see its own


its very own

two knees


inviting the sun

to make a burrow


where it lay.

And it did


look inside the spine

and say god damn it


child won’t you

put on something


warmer

don’t you see


the big wave

here it comes




Liz Bowen

www.liz-bowen.com








It’s Never What You Imagine



Sometimes I want to trap

the light in


          your chest, devour

          my bones first and lick


them dry


          before I get to you.


I want you to want

this, to study


          light falling


on me, inside me

and not know if


          you want to hurt


me or love me

tenderly like cars


          driving down highways,

          oceans from far


away—birds or wind—

could be anyone, could


          be a spirit past—


could be trouble, could be

salvation—the one


you want, been waiting


for


          like waiting for who

          you are, where you


were always supposed to be.


*


In another version, I am brave.

I am braver

          than any teacher


could tell me to be.


In another version, I never say


          those things I knew


could destroy you

          like unwriting

a creation story


as if it never existed

          —the very feeling I strove so long


so emulate like an eternal


        chorus


in a straight line, dressed


        all in black


as if for a funeral

        for someone who never


deserved a love

         like the end of the world


in slow motion. In

another


          version, I don’t buy


that pack of cigarettes

from the gas station attendant


who carded me ten years too

late.

          I tell you to stay, round


and around and around

in vibrating circles

          like the shape


of you sharp as a knife,

ones like the X-Acto


          knife, other

                    found objects


I used to use; it was easy to hide

as an artist


           or someone who said

they were an artist.


When I tell you

           how I used to find


anything sharp so I could


                     cut into myself


looking for a sign

          of rain like I’m not


forgetting the obvious,


         as if it’s not

me who needed the saving


          once, as if it’s not me


who wanted that overwhelming

          feeling of something else

besides myself.


In another version, I am braver

          and I tell you how it felt,


what it looked like, how I curled


          up in the middle of


the carpet like a lost deer

          at night like a dreamer


          forgot how to breathe

and in another version,


you aren’t sitting next to

me eating ice cream,

          marveling at the lack


of stars and maybe they don’t

          exist anymore


because we don’t deserve them

          —and in another version,

          I am better.



Joanna C Valente 

www.joannavalente.com