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You watch the clouds roll off the backs of trees, and a bird slips from the sky

You give this monologue under water, nimble fingers pick at the knots, never unstring the rope of the net

The sun is an interlude, a slice in the pressure.

You think knife to tension.

You think mirrored pane against humidity.

You think heatstroke behind eyelids.

Hard stops deserve proper punctuation.

Forget the clawing at the neck and the way the feathers look plucked from the pale, forget the

nest nestled safely above the scene, forget the contents, the bleating, the begging, the lungs,

the outcry, forget the way you’re needed, forget that you are the falling thing, you are the

falling thing, forget to swim

A bird slips from the sky



My mom used to work in hospitals and nursing homes. Long shifts. Heavy lifting. Clean-up in Room 3. Spilled-guts. Spilled-bowels. Spilled-bladder. Spilled-blood. Human-spill. Spill-spillage. She’d come home to house, nighttime-still. She’d come home to pass-out, lack of sleep. Stumble down stairs, wash away fluids. Wash away E. Coli. Wash away sweat. Wash away death-stench. Pass-out lack of sleep. Repeat, next day. Lift-up crying. Lift-up disease. Lift-up dying. Lift-up human-spillage. Repeat. Lift-up human-spillage. Repeat. The babies never had a chance. Twins. Fallopian-tube, burst. Platelet, internal-vein explosion. Ghost-bleeding. Phantom-bleeding. Insides-bleeding. Also known as hemorrhage. Also known as dying. Also known as 8 hours screaming/fainting/shaking pain. Also known as doctor-induced abort mission. Ride or die. Abort mission or sleep-eternal. No blood left. So I could hold two still-borns. One mass explosion. The other clump of tadpole-mess. Save the unborn. Send the living home. Follow the plan. Return home. Spare the rod, spoil the child. Kill the mother, spare the child. Or spoon-scrape cervix. Tissue-removal. Tissue-removal. And I wake every day thanking the doctor that left her blood-cup-half-full. Pray to false god of saving lives. Return me home. Return me home.



—After Brody Dalle

They’ve learned how to rape us without lifting a cock, and I’m afraid of what will happen if we

keep allowing them to use gasoline to reduce the friction

Here’s a proposal—

We steal a match in preparation

We wait for the breaking

Wait for the entering

We’re all kittens

All downward dogs, downward bitches being taken

It’s mid-thrust when we strike

I go up like a torch in the night

We set the world on fire, but not the way they wanted

We press our hands around their throats

Bring mouths to their flaming ears


I want you to crown me, right here on my knees



i. there is a body unfurling, the hiss and the slither, the shape shifting overtaking the still frame on the rocks, a wife plants cacti in clay, a toddler with pricked finger, how she’s barefoot on the hilltop, how she cradles the snake

ii. train whistle, storm siren, a crow in trees, radio static, a couple screams in the front yard, the dog’s in heat

iii. it’s the smell of the steel mill midsummer, the oldsmobile headliner cradling smoke, two girls in pinafores, double braids down back

iv. fill a bucket with stones, deliver water to dirt, mud births a shine, the hole in my stomach fills, i watch the way the sun shifts, wish it knew how to stop



my daughter holds me under water, and I wonder whose fists these are, choke me like you mean it, I ache in the pit, burnt through like the after-math, holding still is not an option, the thrashing is born on the waves of thrashing, is this the way the cradled waist becomes the strangled throat, is this the acid reaching from inside, is this the discomfort of living inside myself, I want out too, I want to be the exit, wet drips between legs, the water crimsons, I want in shades of scarlet


Emily Perkovich is from the Chicago-land area and the Editor in Chief of Querencia Press. Her work strives to erase the stigma surrounding trauma victims and their responses. Her piece This is Performance-Art was a finalist for the 50th New Millennium Writings Award and she is a 2021 Best of the Net nominee. She is previously published with Harness Magazine, Coffin Bell Journal, and Awakened Voices, among others. She is the author of the poetry collection "Godshots Wanted: Apply Within" and the novella "Swallow." Her chapbook "The Number 12 Looks Just Like You" is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. You can find more of her work on IG: @undermeyou.

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