Susan Slaviero's full-length collection of poetry, CYBORGIA, is available from Mayapple Press. Recent chapbooks include A Wicked Apple (Hyacinth Girl Press), Selections from The Murder Book (Winner of Ghost Ocean Magazine's 2011 Chapbook Contest), and Apocrypha (Dancing Girl Press). Her work has appeared in journals Fourteen Hills, Rhino, Oyez Review, Artifice Magazine, PANK and elsewhere. Susan has a BA in English/Professional & Creative Writing from Lewis University. She moonlights as a literary editor for blossombones and as a performer with the Chicago Poetry Bordello.
THE NOIR WIFE
She's smackleg, gunbody brilliant.
She knows how to pin a man with her
tailbone, pen him nitrogen-blind
like a block of dry ice. She's
Lauren Bacall with a cigarette
stuck to her gums, lipstick
smeared on her pretty
cupid's bow. Glasslights
static. Even her eyes are shades
of snowflake obsidian.
This woman is all short
skirt and thigh. Hank of hair.
He called her dragonliver. Meercat.
The next thing he knew, okra
was slipping off his fork,
greening the Yellow Pages.
She brained this guy in his own kitchen.
Iced him in his fedora and bedroom
slippers, left him lying
coiled and ribboned,
a slice of film.
1. n. structures (natural or manmade) that house colonies of bees.
In entomologic terms, the girl lacks the necessary
exoskeleton. She soaks in a pool of honey,
but the balm slips away, like flesh from boiled bones.
She surrounds herself with busy patterns—
plaids & paisleys, cabbage roses—
to camouflage the blemishes in the drywall.
She eats her morning toast with royal jelly,
isolates herself in wax rooms, humming
as she peels oranges with her beestung mouth.
2. n. allergic skin condition characterized by hot, reddish welts.
A man is waiting. He offers the girl a piece
of sweet halvah. Blisters form
on her tongue. He wears a mesh suit
when he handles her. The vast
dimensions of his hands, the way they
smell of leather and freshly husked corn.
There is a scar near the arch
of his eyebrow, still sutured
with rough black thread.
She is more than warm.
She is parasitic.
ROSE RED, ON SIBLING RIVALRY
Don't look at her;
I'm the wilder sister.
I pass time with stags
& falcons, keep midnights
in the deepest patch of forest.
I sleep in mossy beds
while she spins
& weaves beside the hearth.
Changelings prick my feet
with thistles to wake me.
They suspect I am kindred—
fey-hearted & ephemeral
as the waning moon.
At home, it's always
"bolt the door & boil the kettle."
Here, there are untamed berries
for breakfast, bright as carnelians
among my white, white teeth.
Tea, brewed on smoldering branches
that tastes of wild ginger
Why does the black bear favor her?
She's all milk & apron-starch.
I'll eat a fish alive,
on the bloody hook.
I brew a witch's tonic
to mute her indigo eyes:
the heart of a doe, the beard
of an imp. A pinch of salt.
Go to sleep, pale sister.
as a wicked apple,
as a whore's shoe.