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Nina Puro

Poem About Internal Violence

Tempe, 1999



I don’t know how to hold this

without arms I mean

I know I have arms I don’t know

what I mean our living

room a desert even

snakes have arms here

lizards know rough deep things

we forgot we are swimming

like thieves through tunnels

through hanks of dirty glitter

our speed monitored by aircraft

we are toilet trained

by and large we have free

lighters and rotisserie chicken

it tastes like snakes

you taste like the snow

this dry dirt will never know if

we started a fire the snow

would melt in a circle

sit down and get uncomfortable

there is no talking stick

I couldn’t see the right

distance but I wrapped

scarves around it walked

into a new body nothing

is that hard only diamonds can cut

each other but we’re

not that fancy our pH glistens

like white skin in security cameras

there’s water somewhere

outside us we are mostly

murky water inside

the all night

pharmacy where we blue

lights spilled into the yellow

from the drivethru

across the street where we

Nebraskaed our fear to a

sparkle we could swim through

found a kind of heaven laced

with napalm inside

that one kid’s locked garage.



Drunk-Dial God



In one version of the story, backstage

lovely & Am-Exed. In another, learned our lesson.

You were the disaster I wouldn’t trade


for all the silver in Nambe. Lesson

wedged between plastic fork & pothole.

Years I slept in my clothes & unlearned how to smile.


In the apartment where you only eat Seamless, I scatter EBT

rice outside the window, hoping to explode

sparrows. This year: disaster I wouldn’t


trade for all the clever signboards outside bars.

In the room where you’ll get angry,

I practice how to fold hospital corners via YouTube.


How to get angry back via YouTube.

In the kitchen: pickle jar full of quarters,

plastic bag full of plastic bags, mirror


hung too high to make out a full face.

Just yellow wall, sun-flash. Jukebox girls remember how

many rooms and deaths we have. Keep one in our back


pocket, wrapped in a receipt. You won’t remember

what you freaked out re: today,

much less did. I’ve learned how unimportant I am,


and I’m relieved. Someone set

the table with plastic forks, asked

have you eaten. Let us say a benediction


against self-pity. I want you to know.

I’m all right now. In every version, we changed

the story to suit our script. The second


& the tell fling apart like lawn & sky, white

rice from my hand, my white face in plate glass,

white bones in my wrist from each other.

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