Denise R. Weuve

Ink Damage and Other Permanent Stains

Poems

LILITH
for edward hanson

How strange that you, my friend
come stationed with your own cross,
your palms bleeding because your heart
can not. You tell me of women
leaving one after another like months

gone by too quickly. You wrap yourself
in pages of the bible; Samson had Delilah,
Adam had Eve. Why so hard for you?
And this is how you will live, church
bulletins scattered through your room

where used condoms should be, all
because you believe the woman for you
will fit like a missing rib. But
what of Lilith, her long night bred hair.
Her sleek body demanding space,

her eyes wide almonds grasping life
quicker than any man, formed
of the earth just as Adam. Can you not
imagine it? A woman aware
of the violence of your sex, how it

encompasses the world, yet willing
to open her legs and let you in. Or
are you just scared, that a woman
like that could make you worship her.
A woman like that is always on top.

First appeared in Bop Dead City

AND THIS IS HOME

this is where I want you most
with ratted hair,
smelling of cigarettes
and last nights booze.
when I peel the vinyl pants,
some strange pale
present being unveiled,
from your legs.
when you chant my name
like catholics summoning saints.
this is where I am love,
in the early mourning hours,
leaving kisses on your
brow just where the dark
mane begins to recede
where residue vodka escapes
my lips, dripping
repetitive promises.
and I make you believe
every syllable
every forever
every always
knowing by morning I will
be home, cradled against a doorway,
trying to remember your name.

first appeared in Durable Goods.

WHORE

she is doing it again
leaving behind
the needles,
her discarded lovers,
one after another,
a trail to her other
side, the side
that is not a mother.
the side that never
wanted to be a
mother.
her breast have
always been dry
empty sex toys
she displays
on merchant marine
ships like green cards
for the asian sailors.
she will sit in bars
for hours sending
watered down drinks
to men eating duck eggs.
the duckling ready
to hatch but boiled
just before the bill
could form.
It makes her ill
watching them peel
away the flesh
place the still closed
eyes on their tongues.
she forgives them all,
those mouths being
the ones she will kiss
for fifty dollars,
300 if she stays
the night.
her daughter will
figure this out soon
drop the needles
from the air
like chinese fortune
sticks that explain her fate.
then spend the night
with a georgian boy
ask for twenty dollars
knowing this is what
all women do
in smaller amounts.
first appeared in Genre

WHEN MY MOTHER DANCED

My father left for the weekend.
This time to Seattle,
and as usual she had pressed
his cotton blue shirt and put
a perfect crease in his work jeans.
It was too neat
for a man who would spend the entire
time behind the wheel.
My grandmother came over
from the community center
where she had been playing Bingo,
and was the proud winner
of four Farmer John’s chickens,
and three pounds of extra lean ground meat.
To celebrate, my mother
went over to the pop top stereo
removed the plastic doily,
and selected a Buddy Holly 8-track.
She danced with my Grandmother
dipping her, and turning her
as if she were a music box ballerina,
the way my father would have
with her, if he was ever around.
But they were two women
who did not need permission
to pin their paisley dresses
above their knees, whisper
curse words, or dance in each others arms.
They put the coffee table up on the sofa
and showed off the Sugar Foot,
Twisted until they wore holes
through the carpet, then Two-Stepped
to Eddie Rabbit’s “Traveling man.”

1st place in the Sheila-Na-Gig’s annual poetry contest.

SIREN

He stirred a composition of neon,
gold flakes, and silicon
seven times clockwise
and created an antidote

to loneliness–a woman.
When she walked he measured
time by the sway of her hips
and love by the pitch of her voice.

A voice that made copper roses appear
and morning glories crawl up the walls.
She sang praising his hands
how they had balanced life,

and how they lightly pressed
against her bak
as he waltzed her around the lab
not paying attention

to the iodine spilled
on the floor.
The oxygen in the room
seemed thinner after awhile.

He longed for his work,
moving beakers, attempting to melt
silver and lead at the same temperature.
Her voice made it impossible

to concentrate on creating
another, without a voice.
He put her in the east corner of the room
between Bunsen burners and microscopes

that had lost their magnifying power,
and kept his hands in motion
from acid compounds to liquid golds.
Still she sang,

from not far behind
and it was reassuring
as long as she didn’t
knock over chemicals arranged

in alphabetical order.
The music became softer,
a background to his life,
further removed from her body.

He did not know when she disappeared
but remembered waking in silence.

First appeared in Pearl

STILL LIFE

I want to be your mother
the one who molded you in her womb
gave you the thick devil brows,
put you together, a mosaic
of past lovers’ limbs

You have the hands of the man
who stroked her hair
as if he were raking a garden
trying to find treasures
beneath her roots.

The full lips and childish smirk
of the lover who dragged her through
decrepit stages of he life
by the throat, and burned her elbows
with hand rolled cigars.

She gave you the heart of the one
who kissed–wet and sloppy–
her suicide scar, the blew on her skin
as if he were Zephyrus
sweeping the pain away.

But I cannot sculpt you into my David
No more than I can give birth to you
in your twenty-first year
and tell you to chalk color
your dreams on sidewalks

or love with the abandonment
of Van Gogh’s flame strokes.
All I can do is
let you in, let you in,
let you leave.

first appeared in RipRap

ENDANGERED

Her back is lizard skin
with scales that draw blood consistently
from gloved hands attempting to domesticate.
But they come back, these hands,
with new scabs, tricking her into
rooms with fresh sheets
and life-time rates, not hourly.
There’ll be a bible on the dresser top
instead of a rat in the corner
Gawking at her with Polaroid eyes and
turning his nose up at her
dime store perfume.
She’ll have to trade in her ripped jeans
for polyester gowns. When she tries
as escape to desert winds
they’ll skin her
to make shoes
or a beige colored purse
that matches any outfit,
even a faded house dress.

first appeared in Sheila-Na-Gig

DANCING IN THE LAUNDROMAT

We noticed the swish
of the washing machines
we sat on. Fingers,
mine, began tapping
on the metal slot
that ate our quarters.
I heard your foot
clicking against
the mustard colored machines
and looked up.
olive forehead. Black hair
clung to your shiny
olive forehead. Yes
it was hot; I could
feel the stickiness
of sweat on my neck.
Eyebrows arching, you smiled,
hopped down to the white
tile floor, littered
with empty Downy
bottles, and Clorox
bleach containers.
You took my wrist pulled
me to you, wrapped your
arms around my back
and began to rocking.
I blushed watching
the eyes of middle
aged woman grow
with each clumsy step
you led me into.
You kicked away a soap
box to free our path
as we twirled and spun.
The only eyes I saw
then were yours, a swirl
of green that lifted
me until we were
spinning and spinning
and the dryers had
stopped to stare.

first appeared in South Coast Poetry Journal

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