SIX POEMS by NIKI PEREZ

CLEAN HANDS


Innocence breeds

among boulders. I hesitate

around blood hounds

seeking fallen bones,

woods in clearing.

When I stare into

banks filling cracks

wet with stone, the river

speaks: trust control.

 

LEATHERBACK GONE


Enough water.

I want sunshiny

bricks on my back:

dried, dense, seasoned.


No more sea foam.

Adieu to unholy spouts

funneling danger. How

I begin hardening myself—


it’s the slow paddle

toward land, turtle-slick grooving

walk through sand. Eyes up.

Shell shed. Here, I am.

 

LITTLE HAVANA


A mom-and-pop where

café clinks draw us

close like a storyline

built upon full cups,

brims topped with silk

froth and sugar melts.


One whiff, hearts snap

out of place. Sips just

warm enough to leave

braille on tongues

waiting to be kissed

by broken bread.

 

AN OVERTONE AND UNDERTONE, BOTH VICE AND MINERAL


I said no, no, no…

—Amy Winehouse


It is I, the villain of vaudeville

Jazz, who vexes pagan musicians:

folks that share advice, Vicodin

Sunday nights over highballs,

blowing desires that forgave when

wrongs did not. Voices cannot thrive

beneath media vermin if art allows

my flight to survive as it were,

some source of public intervention. No.

Art must push tributes forward. Rise

wine houses and chart chateaus

because, Amy, we are not done.

 

ARROGANCE AND AI


I am tired. Stained in fact by those poets—

you know, poet-posse-pompous craftsmen,

who got massive globes hanging from their wet

chicken bone thighs. Now and then, well, more than

just at times, I conceive the scent of Ai:

her dearest pen budding, like a rose bush,

off their paper garden guise. Blink one eye,

she’d say. I dare you to lose sight or push

one more line to its demise. Ai’s pen draws

wax at the tiny tips of your folds. One

sound. One word alone, and her pen guffaws

at your best. But enough with making fun.

I come in query wanting to know this:

how many editors declined your piss?

 

MY POE ASS


A dead man strolls by my rump, lukewarm feel.

Nothing like those phantom huntsmen say.

His corpse, on the other, is not ideal;

snarl speaks theories on lovers’ decay.


I admit to following, unaware,

his outline on the boardwalk like a dove.

Our eyes fix a gaze; no gravity there.

Perhaps I am sick to think we could love.


Fleeting by our vapor, shrill nothingness

as air, my specter and I tow our toes

the other not knowing kindness or death

when: envious Annabel Lee exposed—


my unshaven ass for Edgar to groom

(such ladies as I can only assume)!

 

Niki Perez is a mom, a commercial real estate guru, and a word slayer. She makes no apologies for being an alpha female, though her sword fighting skills need practice. Once, Niki was an owl of literature and creative writing at FAU. You might find her pen in A Thin Slice of Anxiety and Coastlines Literary Magazine.