Poems by Jocelyn Sears

Walking Alone


Feel the string of your spine
drawn upward, taut, like a marionette
brought to attention. Their
attention: a honey slithering
over your body, sticky in your folds
and crevices, congealing
the way blood congeals, that clot
like a knot in the artery’s
throat. While slaughtering
a pig, you must hang it upside down
so the blood will drain. If the pig is kept
alive through the bloodletting, its meat will be
Meat hanging in the window
of a butcher shop. Meat hanging
from the sky by that string, your spine.
Everywhere women dragging hooks
above them as they pass an intersection,
pass over a bridge. Everywhere ham
honeyed by that gaze, the barks
of hunger. When we regard a pig
as something to be eaten, it ceases
to be a pig. We call it pork.
This new name the spirit cannot answer to.



A story in which neither of us is the hero


When I picture you
walking towards me, you have roses
instead of hands and I pull off the petals
like I’m plucking a dead chicken.
Or I put an entire blossom
in my mouth and bite it off at the neck, the colors
tasting darker than I’d imagined, this salt
and dirty nickels taste of blood. I sweep some
from my tongue with a fingertip, stretch this hand
to your chest and paint a circle
over your shirt, where your heart should be.
One day you extracted it, slipped it
on a hanger and left it
in the back of the closet with your old
sweaters and the suit you bought
when your grandfather died. It’s too
small now, smelling faintly
of grass and the body’s brine. It’s not
that I blame you, all these years believing
in the safety deposit box
of your chest, the safety of the self, only
to find others reaching their hands through it
like the surface of water. A hole in the road
means strangers stay strangers; the hole
in your chest casts an odd shadow. You wanted
to be alone the way stars are alone,
I tried to gather the stars
on my tongue like chips
of salt, taking the sky into
my mouth, your entire being into
my mouth Come to the warm Come
broken taillight, cold-burning stone
Come to me, my shivering
. Yes I pried myself
open but you did not come. Of course
I’m angry. When I picture you
walking towards me, great buck’s antlers
grow out of your skull and they’re
on fire, like a Christmas tree on fire.
I picture your whole body turning
to ash. Love apocalyptic,
titan, bellringer: even
when I get so drunk I forget my name
I never forget your name.



Jocelyn Sears is a native of Northern California and currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her poetry has appeared in Bellingham Review, DIAGRAM, The Collagist, and American Literary Review.



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