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Count the almonds, Count what was bitter and kept you awake Count me in.

-Paul Celan

Wickedness in Dark Corners The stale odor of mothballs and decay fills his nasal passages. Brittle yellow fingernails grasp a brass doorknob, issuing more force than necessary. With The dark falls hea ily! an oppressi e blanket, co ering and one painful creak, he forces the door open with the pressure of his narrow shoulder. distorting all that is isible. "e coughs once, blood and sputum forming a dark shape on the dusty floorboards. # menacing smile peels back cracked lips, re ealing a grotes$ue array of gray teeth. What%s left of molars and canines &ut painfully from wasted gums! like a deserted picket fence. 'our milk breath escapes, a cloud of to(icity. Do you feel your heartbeat $uicken as black eyes burn into you, seeking the only searing throb of hope safe within your chest)

*nce in a Blue +oon There are still a few holes that let in a little rain, but , would rather e(haust +yself with a play, life is too chartered, too calculated, too slow. too fast. 'ometimes it%s no one , want. +ostly it%s you. -ou were happy when , was away -es But not nearly as happy as , would ha e been 'wallowing hypodermic needles

T* T"*'. */ -*0 W"* T",12 , "#3. 4.D # C0'"-, /.#T".5' #1D C56+. 4,/.7

People come in and out all the time, no one e er gets hurt. +y grandmother lost her husband of 88 years to 9 different types of cancer this past year. ,f you ask her how she li ed through it, she will tell you-- :damaged people are dangerous, because they know they can sur i e.; the slow destruction of mankind and the natural world.

When Pandora opened her bo( of e il, < out of => horrors manifested themsel es to a brick cage not suited for my father%s hummingbird. The dark falls hea ily! an oppressi e blanket, co ering and do you think you%re sort of a sucky person because , do, , mean not as in you are a sucky person but , am and , think that%s sort of okay. -ou wouldn%t come out to play

+y mother told them7 ?"e must ha e felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high

price for li ing too long with a single dream. "e must ha e looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening lea es and shi ered as he found what a grotes$ue thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. # new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.?@/. 'cott /itAgerald, The Great Gatsby

"ar est ,,
We%re =9. *ur house burned down B years ago, when we were ==. The only part left of the house is the front door. We ne er used to ha e a front door. #utumn is looking at the pile of rubble that was once our house. 'he fingers a bush from the rose garden. # thorn pricks her. "er hand starts to bleed. #utumn shows no e(pression.

happy halloween are you pregnant?

I am caught by your oxygen and rising under your skin. I am your blood. Departures. I am gone and lost again.

(He could kill me and I wouldnt notice.)

Im scared o my own heart passing through! exploring your li e with my hands out. "ou heard me talking in my sleep! and said that I looked like a shark with my eyes closed.

(He holds me! a weight.)

#here$er you are now my ace waits! empty% in between walls that do not matter because they do not contain you.

(I cannot contain a single word that he breathes.)

&n &pocalypse '(o then Isadora woke up in the morning next to her )rench *it +&! an empty bottle o peppermint schnapps! and a shopping cart. &nd she swears she doesnt know how she got there., 'Isadora -el$ille?, a boy you$e ne$er seen! in thick.rimmed glasses! asks o$er a glass o champagne. '&re there any other Isadoras?, the short girl who wears knit sweaters says. /$eryone in the circle shakes their head 'no., 'I 0ust cant imagine Isadora -el$ille doing that!, the boy says. 'I went to high school with her. (he was! like! in the drama circle. (he ne$er e$en went to parties., +hat 1ampire #eekend song that goes 'I dont gi$e a uck about an 2x ord comma, is playing o some laptop in a di erent corner. & banner o$er the doorway reads )345 "23 +#/*1/ +#/6+".26/ +#/*1/. +he end o the world is supposed to come in i teen minutes. +he blonde girl rom your /nglish 78 class continues her story. (hes wearing a gold headband and a matching dress. '#hen Isadora gets back to her dorm! all o her belongings are in the hallway. /$ery single thing she owns is sitting there waiting or her. (he doesnt know why! and she looks through her pockets and her key is gone! and she cant know or sure but shes pretty sure she looks aw ul. (he bangs on the door and calls out her roommates name. Its probably 9 &-! so the girl is asleep! but she wakes up and stumbles to the door' 'How do you know she stumbles?, ':oetic license. (he stumbles to the door! and opens it! and Isadora looks in to see her bed in total shambles! co$ered with the contents o a trashcan. (he asks her roommate! ;#hat happened here last night? &nd her roommate 0ust shrugs and says ;"ou had an idea., '(o < let me get this straight < youre saying that! in a drunken rage' '#ouldnt call it a rage. (he was in the throes o lust. #ith a )renchman.,

'(o in a drunken whate$er! she destroys her room! mo$es hersel out! and her roommate is totally ine with it?, '(he had an idea!, the short girl in the knit sweater nods and takes a drink. "ou walk across the party! down past the li$ing room! where your ex and a ew o his emale riends are rolling 0oints. (omeone has cut some xanax and le t the lines on the table. "our ex is telling the girls about how he took a =uarter in (weden! and how he thinks the nations economic stability is tied to its racial purity. +he girls are nodding along! ollowing his logic. He told your best riend that he liked ucking >ewish girls because he knew he was better than them. +his made you eel both aw ul and important. & girl in a black bandeau and a short black bandage skirt pulls you into a hug and screams your name into your ear. "ou pull away and she asks! '&re you going on the board clubs trip to the mountains next week?, "ou say no! that you dont snowboard! and she tells you! '+hats okay! its un to sit in the cabin and look at the boys. #e always get so ucked up! up there. Did I tell you about what happened there with that *ola ?enetton and the boy with the dreadlocks?, "ou wonder how *ola ?enetton had sex and you didnt. *ola ?enetton has crooked teeth and a slightly la@y eye. "ou are pretty sure that you are ob0ecti$ely beauti ul! but you cant be sure. "our shoddy sexual record pro$es this. "ou make it to the kitchen and pour yoursel a glass o >ameson. +here is no ice in the ree@er so you break o a chunk o concentrated orange 0uice and stick it in. +he tall redheaded boy you know rom around campus stands to the le t o the ridge with a cider. He wa$es at you and you talk to him about On the Road or a ew minutes. Hes ne$er read it! but a boy in a suit who is also in the kitchen tells you that he thinks 5erouac is o$errated! and e$en though you lo$e 5erouac you say that you agree. ("ou think 5erouacs poetry is beauti ul.) & girl who ucked your ex be ore you calls your name and you almost spill her drink as she throws her arms around your neck. (he takes you by the hand and you ollow her outside. (he lights you a light blue &merican (pirit and you both smoke! her long black nails wrapping around the stem o her cigarette. (he asks you how you$e been and you dont know how to answer. '+ypical (corpio!, she says! and you dont know what she means. +here are two boys smoking and leaning against the wall. "our riend pulls on your arm and points to them. /$en though there is a crowd! they are the only two aces you want to see. "ou do not know why you are so drawn to them. +hey can see you staring. "our riend smiles and tilts her chin down. +he boys smile back and curl their hands! gesturing or the two o you to approach them.

"ou push through the small crowd. (omeones ash alls into your hair! but you ignore it. I the world is really ending! it will be like :ompeii. "ou think! I will die without seeing Italy. "ou think o the summer you worked at the ice cream shop across rom -ystic (eaport! ser$ing cones to tourists in town or the ishing. "ou remember riding your bike a ter work up to the abandoned monastery. "ou remember trying to pray. 2ne o the boys is Danish. He is talking to your riend about chairs. Danes lo$e chairs! he says! as i this is a well.known act. He asks i you ha$e e$er seen a really good chair. "ou could die without sitting in a good! Danish chair. "our riend laughs at something he says. "ou reali@e that the other boy has been talking to you! and that he is /nglish. He says that he is rom inside o *ondon and that he lo$es the *os &ngeles weather! and you notice that hes =uite a bit shorter than you! but you dont care! and he sees that your cigarette has run out! and he hands you a new one! which you place between your lips! and which he lights. 'Do you want to step o$er there?, he asks! and you say yes. "ou sit with him under an orange tree on a ladder that has been turned sideways. He picks you an orange and you hold it. It is not yet ripe! but you pick at the skin! 0ust to get the scent under your nails. He reaches or your cheek and turns your head to his and kisses you and you kiss him back and you grab onto his neck and you wonder what death eels like and he tightens his arms around your waist and he tells you to bend o$er the ladder and you do and he ucks you and he comes hard and semen alls down your leg. It is 7AB87 and the world is still there.

youre in the back o my throat as I choke on his hands. when he touches me! I am inally ali$e I am replete with clichC! o$ercome by repetiti$e and rhyming words! blowing through my brain kiss me kiss me kiss me i will be your skin effortless sin kiss me you ne$er were the person I needed you to be. hes smooth! hes air! hes en$eloping me! youre cold di icult away. you were the only one o them I e$er knew how to lo$e.

/@ra 5oenig +he irst time I met /@ra 5oenig! he was wearing a sweater the same green as his eyes. I igured it was accidental color coordination! or maybe he really was as stylish and sel . aware as e$eryone said. He was the kind o person people talked about! that you think you$e met years be ore you had! e$en i those years be ore you met him you li$ed in a di erent city! or a di erent state! and had ne$er heard his name spoken! e$en! you still knew e$erything about him. ?ecause some people are 0ust so much that e$en distance cant ignore them. I was in 4ape 4od or the summer! staying with a riend rom college whose amily owned a beach house there. /$erything smelled like sea ood and still water and cigarette butts! and I hated it. I spent most mornings in bed reading (I ne$er was one to go out much)! but by about noon Id ha$e to $enture outside. I got into a routine o stopping by the (ea (wirl so t.ser$e stand to get a cup o sprinkles and a cone! no ice cream! and then wet the cone with my lips and dip it in the sprinkles until I either ran out o cone or ran out o sprinkles. &nd Id walk along the beach. &nd Id pick up seashells. &nd mostly! Id 0ust want to die. I considered walking into the ocean and ne$er turning back! laying against the bed o the sea! eeling the salt engul me! water ill my e$ery pore! choking my throat! lo$ing me. 2ne such a ternoon! I ound mysel with a hand ul o sand! watching the grains slipping between my ingers and noting the smooth! cold sensation. I was wearing my riends clothes < a *acoste polo dress with a grey *ouis 1uitton sweater pulled o$er! headband barely holding in my loose ends < and I elt like a beauti ul ake. '"ou can keep staring at the ocean! but I dont think its going anywhere., He was lounging on an &dirondack chair pulled onto the sand underneath an umbrella made o seersucker! looking out at the &tlantic the way all kings do. I held my hand abo$e my eyes! guarding against sun! and turned toward him. '(taring at the hori@on line releases endorphins in your body!, I said. 'I heard it on 6:D., He uncrossed his ankles and wa$ed me toward him. ?eguiled! I obliged. I sat on the sand below him! leaning on my heels. He took the sunglasses o o the top o his head and placed them o$er my eyes.

'(un protection is a real concern o mine!, he told me. I nodded! and said that it was one o mine! too. I then noticed the pad o paper in his lap. It was co$ered with a series o $owels in some kind o loose pattern! interspersed with s=uiggling lines and em.dashes. '#hats that?, I asked. '-y songwriting book!, he said. '?ut I cant show you what Im working on. Its secret. Im $ery secreti$e about my work., He lipped to a new page! and I could see o$er his shoulder a drawing o a sun with rays shooting o o it wearing sunglasses with the caption '4ool Dude., He put down his notepad and! in doing so! lightly ran his hand down my back. 'Do you know who I am?, he asked! and I nodded. '&ll the ladies o 4ambridge know who I am!, he said with a laugh! e$en though I didnt go to school in 4ambridge. His hand mo$ed up my back again! cupping my shoulder. His ingers were irm but I could tell they were so t. +heir pallor did eel $ampiric! but bringing that up seemed dumb and childish. I looked up toward him! the gray o my eyes re lected in his! running my ga@e down the length o his body! past his ?enetton pants down to his boat shoes. 'Do you want to go or a walk?, he asked. 'I know an abandoned lighthouse thats 0ust a mile up the shore., I said okay! and ollowed him as he rose. '#hat about the chair?, I asked. He shrugged. 'I can get a new one., E +he lighthouse is dripping with age and also with water. Its spooky and elegant! I think! like being the richest man in the gra$eyard. /@ra reaches into his satchel and pulls out a glass container o horchata. #e take long swigs rom it as we stand silently under the decrepit lintel. /$erything smells like mildew! salt! and his cologne. (6ote the use o the 2x ord comma.) 'Is there still a light up the stairs?, I ask as his breath clouds the back o my neck! his arms wrapping around the middle o my body.

'#e could go see!, he says! sliding his hand down to my hips and then o o me completely! taking my hand to walk up the stairs. In the attic o the lighthouse lay scattered a $ariety o pillows and a be$y o unlit candles. /@ra takes a box o matches out o his satchel and lights each candle in turn. 'Do you come up here o ten?, I ask! reali@ing the rules o the situation. '6e$er with anyone as beauti ul as you!, he asks! ingering the collar o my polo dress. I can eel my heart nearly rising abo$e my cla$icle with e$ery breath that I take! the heady ner$ousness sinking into my stomach! my eet curling at the toes. He rolls his palms down my sides and pulls me closer to him. He reaches abo$e me to click on a cassette player. :aul (imons Graceland starts. 'I knew it!, I whisper! which he takes as an in$itation to constrict my body urther! when in act I am 0ust re erring to his stylistic similarities to moti s common to (imons opus. His mouth is warm as it approaches my ace! heating e$ery pore o me with the same heat that would come rom torching a (aab like a pile o lea$es. I extend my neck slightly so that he cannot a$oid pressing his lips to mine! his tongue 0utting against my teeth. I eel that I am going to be lost in some kind o black hole! sucked inside o him! turned inside. out. #e kiss or a while longer! :aul (imon singing in the background! and then he begins to guide my body toward a particularly high pile o pillows against a wall. I pull away rom him! the tips o my ingers dancing on his chest! and collapse mysel down. He pulls o his sweater! re$ealing a surprisingly per ect body! and kneels beside me! burying his ace in e$ery inch o my dress. #hen he gets to my thighs! he li ts the hem! biting the inside o my leg. /$erything is both oggy and crystal.clear simultaneously. I take a moment to peel o my &merican &pparel lace underwear! while he takes o his belt and slides o his pants. I stretch my legs up to his shoulders. Its the most incredible sex I$e e$er experienced < he paints a layer o sali$a and bitemarks and bruises o$er my aching body! and I am his completely! e ortlessly! ob$iously. Its nearly o$erwhelming! but I ace the all.consuming desire head.on! 0ust like he aced the initial critical and commercial whirlwind o success brought on by his lawless irst album. E I all asleep across his chest. #hen I wake up in the morning! he is standing o$er me holding two mugs o tea made with lea$es reshly imported rom 4hina! 1alencia orange peels! and -adagascar rare $anilla! mixed with cream he took rom a small brown cow rom western -assachusetts that he cal$ed and raised. I drink the tea gladly! while he smiles down at me.

'Dont you want to get out o 4ape 4od tonight?, he asks me. I laugh! and say that I cant lea$e! that my riend is probably already wondering i Im dead or ali$e. ')uck your riend!, he says. 'Im going to play a show in 4onnecticut tonight at a charming di$e bar that (te$e ?uscemi showed me. "ou ha$e to come., &lthough e$ery bone in my body cries to be beside him always! I tell him! 'I cant do that! /@ra. I ha$e my own li e to li$e. I cant go along ollowing you. It 0ust isnt air to me., He looks at me with more lo$e than I deser$e! and says! 'I eel you! girl., #e kiss! and walk down the stairs o the lighthouse! hands clasped. #e walk back to his &dirondack chair! stained by the tide! and say good.bye. I walk away knowing that I ha$e 0ust bid arewell to the most ama@ing thing thats e$er happened to me! but I know that I made the right choice. (ome $ampires you can only ha$e or the weekend! and no longer. #hen I get back to my riends beach house! she is waiting on the ront porch! arms crossed. '"ou werent at the clambake last night!, she says angrily. 'I know!, I say with a smile. 'I was ucking /@ra 5oenig., '"ou lying bitch!, she says. I laugh! and in the distance I think I can hear the beating o a culturally.appropriated & rican drum mixing with the beat o my heart! and I wonder i I will e$er see him again.

am i your midli e crisis

your per ection haunts me at e$ery turn. a labyrinth terri ying with its indecision. I wonder! what is real? I think o nights in gra$eyards! I think o $el$et and alcohol! I think o stardust! I think o you. i reality is only my perception! i it is e$il to allow the de$ouring o my being by your maniacal aura! i there is no exit! except through your oceans! then let me drown.

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