I am origami,
And though complicated,
My skin is thin delicate paper.
I unfold in your arms.
And when flattened out,
You can still see all the lifelines I’ve been hiding.
You may have crumpled me up and tossed me away.
You shaped me into a different form,
The most beautiful I have ever been.
Your tresses flow from your scalp,
A waterfall of ribbons, pooling at your neckline.
I submerge myself underneath the cascading curtains,
Lamenting in the transience of this endless chute.
I find refuge in your collarbone cavern
And dream of staying past winter and into the spring.
purity; a child in white lace
purity; a child in reverence
purity; a child bride to christ
purity; a child in white lace has a question
purity; what is purity? why am i wearing white? why does god need so many children, hands stretched out stretching us out stretching us thin, can lace be brittle and break? children can.
purity; when man says original sin, man means woman. so, little girl in lace, are you iridescent? your little wedding dress spun tight across you, suffocating your chest. white for innocence white for pure white for washing. turn her over and see her muddled knees. she’s been on her knees. she’s been praying for purity. little child brides and grooms ready to take a mouthful of a holy man, ready to start confessing.
purity; a child wrapped in gauze. a child who opens her mouth, not for men, but to light a spark, to spread a fire, to burn white lace.
Sucking my fist,
I am here
As a threat to myself.
Sit here sometimes
And we play
When I clap my hands
People behind the glass, they laugh
(You bitch, you bitch).
Sometimes I stop and
I think, “Wait a minute,
This is my future.”
O God. Now I must go back.
I just mean the tallest fences.
I’d felt myself splintering
through the cracks in the wood,
coming out brick-dusted and opaque
and still I couldn't recognize the thing
on the other side. Not those limbs,
or my limbs, or the flesh of the trees.
I'd forgotten neck from
spinal cord, misplaced trachea
for the hollow bones of a bird.
I'd tried to make voice from metal, bit down
hard the cool sting of copper; my tongue nothing
but trace fragment.
I was split thin to collarbone, but this whistling
storm outside, how it wanted to be in my throat,
in my breath. How I caught lungs until I forgot myself,
saw the blade stuck in cheek, not the blood
on the floor, just the glint from the lights
overhead. How they rung in the quiet,
but I'd gorged on all my voices and now
the silence was a lakebed & / I'd found
myself / shipwrecked at the bottom.
With every turn of the tire, I feel the hu-bump.
KILLER RUBBER SQUASHES BIRD the headline
Resounded like a choir, a reverse echo, one that
Gets louder with every hu-bump of the bird murder
Rather than softer.
I ran over a bird. Involuntary bird-slaughter. Accidental.
Pile of concrete colored feathers thunked the hood
Of the neighboring car at red-light.
Bird slid off, perfectly coincided with my tire,
And hu-bump, then sobbing.
October 20th, 2015, the day I murdered a bird,
Also the day Ohio delayed executions for seven
Death row inmates: 2017 would be their death year.
My previous theory that Ohio
Held only four people within its borders
Was proven wrong.
Meet Robert Van Hook.
Setting: Gay bar, Cincinnati,
1985. Robert “Bobby” Van hooked
David Self, unsuspecting. Strangled
David Self. Stabbed David Self.
Murdered David Self. Homophobic
Panic, self diagnosed.
Bobby will be injected on July 25, 2017.
He will be married a week before
To an Australian pen pal. He has waited
31 years to die.
Meet Sr. Helen Prejean.
Born: Baton Rouge. Occupation: Nun.
But none of her nun occupation
Would endorse death penalty.
Do you know how the death penalty is performed? Performed, they say, as if it is a show or talent that we can watch, that we can clap at the end and say, “Bravo! Again, again!”
Three rooms, separate. Four if you count Bobby’s, who will be imprisoned on a gurney, a word I hate for how it comes out the mouth, like regurgitating a word we can’t remember from long ago. Gurneys, wheeled beds who roll patients to their saviors, or bodies to their graves, now also used for those in between, those being rolled to their final living destination; straps will coil around his wrists and legs.
Patches and heart monitors will pepper Bobby’s chest. His lungs will probably expand in, out, in, out, in, out, rapidly, as if they know that soon, their job will end. Two needles will prick and enter the epidermis. They will slide into place with trouble at first. Poking, poking, poking until the right vein pops.
Enter Isotonic solution. Harmless.
There will be a curtain call because an audience will have gathered to watch the “performance.” Spectators loved ones of both Bobby and David. Curtain between Bobby and his spectators, and curtains separating the other three rooms. A second injection will slither in, rendering Bobby sleepy.
Button One. Sodium thiopental. Anesthetic. His unwinding will be unknown to him, unless they do it wrong. If they do it wrong, his stomach will swell in unknown hernia, and his gasping for air will penetrate the glass in between him and his spectators.
Button Two. Pancurium bromide. Liquid will ink into veins, muscle relaxer—if done right.
Button three. Potassium chloride will stop his heart. Some will say his heart stopped long ago, in 1985.
Sr. Helen Prejean is the one who told me how; the three drug givers will sit in separate rooms out of view of the audience, of Bobby, of the doctor present who will only be required to announce when Bobby is dead. How odd will he feel? A doctor, there to make sure death is safe. How odd will he feel? There is a button for each injector. There is a light above the button. When it comes on, Injector must push their button. They do not know which of the three they are. Who delivered the final dose?
I murdered a bird in 2015. Hurt, bobbling, painful rasps exuding, probably, from its chipped beak. It was a pigeon, the scavengers. Did it plunge in front of my car to end its suffering?
What’s worse, the dying, or the waiting?
Surrounded, I feel suffocated
This murky bar, club, whatever you want to call it
People are packed in tight like canned mandarin oranges
But none of them will ever be as sweet
I see them all, and they stare back one by one
The hunger in their eyes
Thirsting to quench their loneliness
If only for a night
The music plays on
I don’t know how to be hungry
You see to that
You make me feel assembled
You make me feel full
I think about going home
Because crowded spaces make me nervous
And I don’t people well
Hello my name is Awkward
The music plays on
I don’t know how to be confident
But you open me up
You show me how to grow
You show me how to thrive
I think about drinking more
Because liquid courage is supposed to help, right?
My anxiety is noxious
Greetings from planet Getting Drunk
The music plays on
I check my phone once, twice, thrice
Maybe you got caught in traffic?
A pack of bros bump into me and I spill my drink
The big one shoves me
“Watch where you’re going Fag.”
My throat knots and I wince at the last word
My shirt is soaked and stained
My eyes lower and I turn to leave
The music changes
Suddenly big, hairy arms wrap around my wet torso
“Hey beautiful, where’s the fire?”
Your beard tickles my nose as you kiss me
A tear rolls down my cheek
I lean in and kiss you back
I stare into your eyes as you backpedal us onto the dance floor
I don’t know how to dance
You know all too well
You try to sway with me romantically
But I stumble and we laugh at my two left feet
2.14 ~ ~ FIRST QUARTER
i walked with marissa and her roommate the few blocks from their house in riverwest to bremen’s cafe. when we got there we could hear a band in the back that was covering pedro the lion songs. it was an event marissa’s friend was putting on and marissa seemed to know the majority of the people there. i rarely go out and even though marissa introduced me to most of the people she talked to i still felt uncomfortable. we watched the band for a little bit and then got more drinks. jake was sitting at the bar and he bought the three of us a round of rail tequila shots. i went back in the room where the music was playing and a my chemical romance cover band was setting up. i didn’t know where marissa was and i was starting to feel extremely anxious and upset with myself. i’d really been looking forward to tonight and going out and being social again but i think i’ve spent an irreversible amount of time alone and instead of enjoying being out i just wanted to cry and be teleported back home so i could pet my cat and listen to beach house in bed. i took a sip from my beer and still felt exactly the same. i didn’t know where to look so i looked down at my feet and instead of seeing my feet i saw a large black dog with brown markings looking up at me. i pet the dog and asked if it was having a good time. it wondered off and shortly after that marissa found me in the crowd and then jake found us and we all danced and sang along to songs i hadn’t heard in years.
3.17 ~ ~ WAXING GIBBOUS
zuul is a 7 month old pug whose owner is staying with us for a few days. he's basically the naughtiest dog in the world but so adorable he gets away with everything. this dog could literally murder me and i'd still love him.
7.18 ~ ~ FULL
today’s my last day in the midwest, i fly back to arizona at 10pm tonight. it took a long time but i convinced jake to wake up early this morning and walk down to the lakefront to watch the sunrise over lake michigan. i used to do this all the time by myself when we lived together in milwaukee but i needed him to come with me otherwise i couldn’t get past the security checkpoint and back into the dorms. on our way back we stopped at walgreens on state and roosevelt to get some food. when we walked out we had to wait to cross the street and standing in front of us was a medium sized white and dark brown pit bull. its owner had his back turned to us and i pet the side of the pup’s happy face and it licked my hand all over. after we crossed the street jake said “sneaky dog friend.”
8.6 ~ ~ WAXING CRESCENT
tonight was the second night of ‘this lil lit fest’, a 3-day event for small publishers in denver put together by catch business. spy kids review’s showcase reading happened tonight at a nice bar. catch, scout, and steve all read. a lot more people showed up for it than i thought were going to. afterward catch had an open mic style reading in her backyard and a lot of ppl showed up for that too. someone brought a medium-big white lab and i don’t remember what his name was but it was something wacky and adorable like booper. i was in the living room with a few other people when the dog walked in by itself and i said i was really happy it was there bc 1) i love dogs and 2) it meant i could write about tonight in this journal. someone asked to hear what i have so far so i took out my phone and read condensed versions from the beginning up until zuul and stopped there bc i thought that was the funniest entry so far and i wanted to end it on a high note.
10.5 ~ ~ WAXING CRESCENT
a couple weeks ago i started working at a call center for verizon wireless and i made friends with a lot of the people in my training class. one of those people was emily and after she found out i’m vegan she insisted she set me up with her best friends krista, who’s also vegan. i dm’d krista on instagram and we talked for awhile and made plans to go on a ~6 hour hike as a ‘first date’. when i got to her house she walked outside carrying a tiny and super skinny rescue pup she had adopted ~5 days before. we walked in her house and 2 small adult dogs started barking. one was a lil wiener dog named rigby and the other some kind of chihuahua mix named mordecai.
after the hike we were exhausted and sweaty and she asked if i wanted to go hang out with her friends and i was like, “okay.” we went over to her friend brandon’s place and he had a small and energetic dog that i kept referring to as “pristine”. krista told me brandon named the dog toulouse bc he’s obsessed with ariana grande and ariana grande has a dog named toulouse.
gonna save myself for Jesus and marry a butcher. gonna burn dusk like a spliff. gonna fuck with my body till it feels like something. gonna fuck with my body till it falls out completely like an egg yolk. i can break it hurt it throw it out all i want but i get to keep my soul.
maybe i don’t deserve it but i’m tired. i would like to just stop. i don’t really know what that means and i also feel the exact opposite. like i would just like to go. to any where. i like feeling night time on my skin wandering but going some where it doesn’t matter where. and then when it feels right to stop. and then stop.
paradise is an old highway with a motel painted pink with fake palmtrees out front and printed onto a postcard taped on the wall next to my bed that i look at when ever i pause from reading some thing and the lighting in the photo takes me into some one else’s short story not one i’ve read but feels familiar enough with out knowing how it ends so it’s probably my short story that i’m writing
The Paradise Lost Edition is the new, greatly expanded full-length edition of Alexandra Naughton's 2015 Bottlecap chapbook, My Posey Taste Like. It is a concept album inspired by Lana Del Rey. Surreal landscapes and insincerity masked as sincerity and vice versa and limbo is always a place on earth with you with you with you.
Backpack borrowed from your aunt Patricia. Bar of Sunlight soap for handwashing underwear in hostel bathrooms. Box of granola bars, flattened, still good. Heartbreak not so fresh as to be debilitating.
Consume and walk a lot and misbehave a little. Dance in a Parisian nightclub with a man named Francois. Daydream on a train as it switchbacks through the Alps. Wonder, in Amsterdam, whether hash can make you hallucinate, or are there actually tiny men in bubbles on the ceiling? Eat everything: cheese, gelato, Swiss chocolate, large salty pretzels, cheap egg sandwiches from Tesco.
On the terrace of your homestay on the Italian Riveria, drink with a pack of American men—no, boys—and notice the cutest one, who isn’t even that cute. Hear him point out how drunk you are to your best friend. When everyone else goes to bed and a cot appears indiscreetly on the terrace, realize you are making a choice, and you won’t even remember his name tomorrow. See the leaning tower of Pisa with the worst hangover of your life.
Don’t feel guilty about burning through nearly $5,000 in two months because you have bigger problems, like where, exactly, is your period?
Cry on the streets of Copenhagen. Fail to notice the city’s romantic splendor. Take a pregnancy test in your best friend’s Danish grandmother’s bathroom, wrap the box in the pharmacy bag before throwing it out. Learn that the body can be confused by naiveté, by hunger.
Go alone, because you can. Surprise yourself by blending in with your long dark hair and intentional stride. When people ask for directions, say “Lo siento, no se,” and feel a small sense of accomplishment. When people give you directions, say “gracias” and wander in the general direction they point, because your Spanish comprehension is limited, and Havana is not that big.
Stay in a cheap hotel frequented by hookers and gigolos because you booked online and didn’t know. Meet a Cuban poet on the steps of the El Capitolio building and walk with him past fading colonial beauties, a sculpture of a flamenco dancer, a hotel bar haunted by Hemingway. Listen to the poet’s stories of international Facebook friends and a growing blog readership and know that he is lying, because Internet access is shoddy and prohibitively expensive; you haven’t even checked your email. Understand his claustrophobia, that he is lost along a spectrum of love and hate for Fidel Castro, and that talking to you is as close as he’ll ever get to seeing the world. Wince when he asks you to buy him a blue striped tunic from the market. Realize he’s a gigolo. Switch hotels.
Feel lonely. Feel lonelier than you have ever felt before. Wonder what you are trying to prove, out here in the world. Wonder about the value of a beautiful photograph. Decide to stop traveling alone, without purpose.
Don’t use your left hand or wear flip-flops in public or show the bottom of your feet to a village elder. Remember the iceberg diagram from training, designed to help you navigate cultural shock? It can’t help you now, you live in a slum.
Also, don’t sleep. The bass of the neighbourhood speaker stacks won’t let you. Go to work anyway, where the students are wary, then cautiously engaged, and then everything. Ishmael wants to be a writer and Joy wants to be the first female president of a student club and Samuel wants to be famous on the radio. Believe these things are possible, because they do.
Realize education is the only useful thing, and even it is not pure: despite his megawatt smile, the Nigerian professor hates you and your white skin and your “curriculum,” and you understand. You’ve been to the slave forts in Cape Coast, you know your ancestors were assholes.
Let the world stop when Samuel tells you, I’m going back to my village for a week because I’m hungry. Notice how thin he has become behind his carefully press collared shirts and professional swagger; hate yourself for not noticing earlier.
The night you’re scheduled to fly back to Canada, accept gifts the students bring to your home: a wooden necklace and a cut-out of a Ghanaian woman with a sign that says “Akwaaba,” or welcome. Ali Baba will be distant, one earbud in his ear, the other dangling around his neck. Laetitia will cry. When Samuel asks you to quickly record an intro for his new radio show, say okay, though you wish your voice didn’t sound like money.
Sob in the taxi on the way to the airport. You’re unlikely to see them again. They’ll scatter like seeds in the wind, back to the north of Ghana, back to Chad and Burkina Faso and Cameroon. Almost miss your flight, because you’re on Africa time now, for one more moment.
Eat with your hands. Swim on a Goan beach. Wear a sari. Wear an air pollution mask. Get food poisoning. Keep going. Make new friends. Watch your ass expand so it more closely resembles an Indian auntie’s. Learn the names of new trees. Gulmohar, amaltas, silk cotton. Learn the quintessential Indian head wobble. Teach English words to teenagers in a slum. Administration, shelter, certainly. Live in a palace. Try every mango. Langra, safeda, alphonso. Lean over the sink and let the juice run down your arms.
Climb into bed beside your guy. Ask, childlike: Are we having a sleepover? A line you have been using with each other for years. Insert earplugs, as he will, because your room is a humming symphony: an air purifier, an ancient air conditioner, a fan. Laugh in the dark when he speaks, and you speak, and you can’t hear each other. What?
Trust that fifty years from now your life will be like this, and where you are won’t matter at all.
i think the end of the world would be okay
hairstill and arms waving
wrapped in clothes and hands and the music as it fades out
and more fades in
our hands interlace in air anchored by elbows
and someone threw the stars out into the sky like spit
all the dandruff sprinkled over all we know
i don’t know how it would end
i don’t know how the stars would disappear
or if it would be us that went first
stepping off the edge like waiting for a stair that isn’t there
but i think i would lie still
arms full of you
mouth numb to all i don’t want to hear