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Erika Jo Brown



You are rubbing the wrong skin

from this vantage, and I knew something was up

so I practiced again and again the narrative

(see?), to get it reified, but it didn’t

they are all still dancing

and I realize it’s very vague, it’s complicated

and palpitating, it makes you tequila-call

your younger brother, this walk home

alone, after the bullshit I’ve seen

but I knew it would end like this


cold night, ice rain coating the boughs

but I don’t trip because I’m careful

and yes, I’m talking about the rubbing again

and yes, I’m talking to moiself again

about moiself, (you dig? do you dig me?) and

goddam, not another stupid box, every year

this gets more serious, every year I give

away heart chunks to the sacrificial fire

for fantastic charring, like cave dwellings, look.







This is going to get explicit, Frank.


Have you ever noticed that whenever you lay

your eyes on, rest your eyes on, or whatever

poor stop-gap we’ve got for daisy-field pan-vision

a person here, they possess an infinitesimal sheen

maybe in the fold of a cuff or a tendency to spit in high mafia style?


I know, Frank, about the grind, people picking

their faces on the train, and charcoal smells.

I’ve learned, Frank, how to angle my chin

and my lower eyelid.


But have you ever noticed the way late-night

passengers orient themselves, like sunflowers

towards the sunrise monstering down the track?


It could go on in lists, Frank, Indian

food with Tania in Brooklyn Heights,

Puerto Rican with Hugh in Williamsburg,

the soft saltiness of pork belly torta.


But in the end, it’s not about proper names or spices, Frank

rather than the gauze of loveliness. Poor as shit but sharing

champagne on a Tuesday night, we are sharing

it together in a honeycomb.


In the anonymity of the subway, in the spot-the-rat game you win

with pestilence. You may recoil from the swarthy man

cleaning his larynx, so close you imagine

clutching him and burping him.


Your loved ones are in the honeycombs, Frank, spitting their spit

in suede shoes, their swagger in the transitions.


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