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Danielle Pafunda

Fast by the wide and dismal gates of hell I slowmo consider my claws frontgold, base done jammed with vernal strife, even the equinox uneasy for diggers

Illustrious horned of bountiful mind when I approach the gates I become tall

a ship's mast announcing her own return sailors live sailors dead don't make a big deal

it's not the living whose starry petal parts thorn from stem until / until your face riven

my way of parting as gates when the last of life's blood hitches through as when

your mouth is warm and I cannot say if you like me or not, but you're there / my

horned god says go for it you're dying my tender bull-faced friend says my hymnal says

I should try / I cannot / tell if you like me if I'm laughing a mouthful of meteors


I'm curled up against Orion's indifferent sack of captures to be hunter or hunted is

nothing it's only the hunt that isn't already dead or trapped or covered in hide thus buried

in kill I am parted imperfect waiting for the gates to sluice waiting to get welcome in

the next room goes silent waiting / for guests are unpredictable and tilt the floorboards

tilt even this concrete slab the desert anchor every ship atop its wave holding still enough

and I loose my politics for a second veil of tears they loose from my palms pour back salt

wings no loft they catch the light even when I stand alone on the roof everyone gone

back to the sea or to bed the seabed bed down their sirens their salt furled lush / was he

pretty / yes / he was the god of disappearance god of lush mouth and heavy hand no one

could see him from the ground



I walked the road seaward for the feast I took my gold cuffs that keep my voice down I

combed the poison out of my lashes I lashed to my breast a plate of knitted hours so that

I might not / forget the way home I keep my daughter there but it isn't home I sing the easy

tide of doing and weaving but it isn't home I try to leave it sincere in the knowledge it

its anchor its contract with the sand its agreement to stay put under Jupiter and then

whoever follows Jupiter I send a couple texts to boost my spirits fuck me love me kmn

and then I'm so deep in the road fellow travelers mistake me for one of them I'm looking

tender for my tender friends who will recognize me in the concrete ecotone my bravado

welling with Orion's terse face sunk behind smog don't tell me it gets nicer when it's

already nicer than I'd imagined don't


don't tell me the stories of lonely femmes fucked by hidden gods their costumes hilarious

feathers sand waves breathing canvas a hot night what pours off a god's body so akin

to mine less taxed less commodity ruin here where beauty plays new notes on bad strings

she says pin you and I go pinned to time overlit highly visible traveling the road everyone

must travel but it can't take you back to the same time a month elapses how much

does the horned god want me to give it up and to whom I don't know what / it's worth

nothing I tell my daughter it's worth what it's worth to you and you cannot speak

that number it seems anchored to you and then drifts don't give it out / to men / I say

here's my number and call me if you need a place to stay on the road and have you met

Minotaurs have you noticed how cramped the hearts of centaurs have you seen by

the shoreline Griselda weeping or the seabird who guards the door to fair use have you

seen the arrangement of my / hands tipped up wrists bent in a mystic supplication

stillpulsing tip of Orion's idle sword I once expected it to be sharp but I know now it rends

with heat with hot deep presence with thoughts I cannot think on my own it rends by

stretching my interior into the exterior by rendering beauty beside its point. I give my

friends / whatever I have / and hope it is even a fraction / the grace they're due

my anchor shifts so slightly this belief that every day / must include pain

Danielle Pafunda

Danielle Pafunda is author of nine books including The Book of Scab (Ricochet Editions, November 2018), the forthcoming Beshrew (Dusie Press Books), The Dead Girls Speak in Unison (Bloof Books) and Natural History Rape Museum (Bloof Books). She is the 2018-19 Visiting Assistant Professor of creative writing at the University of Maine and sits on the VIDA: Women in Literary Arts Board of Directors.

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