SELF PORTRAIT, by Sade Murphy

Note: Over the next five days, we’ll be running previews of forthcoming books by Birds of Lace, a feminist micropress run out of Athens, Georgia by Gina Abelkop. A note from her about this project runs after this excerpt of Sade Murphy’s Self Portrait, which can be pre-ordered via BoL’s 2016 Kickstarter campaign


Sade Murphy a poet and artist from Houston, TX. They do not have an accent. Sade is the author of Dream Machine (co-im-press, 2014), a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a Master Artist with Silk Creations in South Bend, IN. Last fall they began pursuing an MFA at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.


as crayon and hypersensitivity on hot cement

your bladder full tilt and your stomach empty worded the splintered soleness of your feet sweat maple sap you salivate indigo you sing hymns in monotone monotreme flanked by jitterbugging angels balancing a boom box on your head my rotting bucktoothed mayfly my crushed cicada of a girl keying a Lexus you prude box of fusty plums a gray prune gravy cake a hoax dumpling watching from the kitchen window while your friends gambol in the summer twilight do you need intimacy do you need to be ravaged are you sexual are you sensual your mouth says no but your closed system eyes whisper yes you went from confection flute to rat king you look like a painting like a mermaid like a turkey leg at the Renaissance Festival like the strength of coffee God would drink you like to watch iridescent Technicolor dreamboats and belles chiming Ave Regina Silenus screaming in the wilderness sandbar chafing your inner thighs shaving your cherry wine armpits you bang and shower with the lights off and saunter into ice cold tides where the water meets the clouds you talk like an almanac your hole in one eroded and you have become so cinematic in your indecent infancy a hyperreal fleshly goddess popping  cucumber chewing gum you do not intimidate me I know your secret desires and motivations the confessions and intentions you hold back if you were a flawed bevy you would be red alert or purple beech you do not want to brag you want someone to notice your insecurities are potato salads and soups piling up at a wake you tell yourself you are a superfluous hexed helix but I marvel at your sanely sanded ticklish skin change your pasteboard password you are too predictable your ears are pinned down you cannot hear me so I will repeat myself

as pebbles and apprehension spilled from a ceramic cup

you are not an orphan.
you’re an old old oracle.
you are so the story goes.
either god or the devil
sent you here.

but I brought you into this world and I can take you out. I see your face when I see my face. I tickle you even though I hate being tickled.

your teeth are in my mouth and
your voice rings round my root
chakra. sometimes your weight
is comforting. sometimes
it is wearing too many layers
in the winter

iodine euphorically swabbed
on scant bees knees.
an appetite without rhythm.
you’re a lion prowlpouncing through a
garden eating abandoned with
your whiskerwisp tongue.

I sit on the porch gurustyle blinking like a grandfather, clock coockcooing.

as clay and transcendence under fingernails

all over the map
                              your handwriting is one
                              man’s freedom fighter one man’s
                              terrorist you are one dirty blonde
                                                                    away from a cobalt blue temper light
                                                                    weight soul solid cord noosed about my
ankles the constant dissolves you
                                                            could I find you
                                                                                avocado number
                                                                                ebony cabernet
                                                                                rolly pollie brat worst
everlasting you are too
                              powerful Africanized high
                              priestess ink blot honey bee
                                                                                driving drunk on a vast dream
kept at bay with
the calamari consistency of
your nightmares lick you
                              with unsavory taste buds
                                                                                steal what you need
                                                                                keep hunger frozen
read like a sonnet on the mind
                                                          of a nuclear physicist you changed my
                                                          mood I just only noticed you
wanton place your ear to God’s breast and
                                                        hear its heart
                                                                              pulsate underneath reborn anew
                                                                              from ribcages and crema rossa

A note from Gina Abelkop about Birds of Lace:

Birds of Lace has been publishing lovingly handmade work by women and queers for over 10 years now. I recently referred to the work BoL publishes as that which might be called a “heart maggot,” eating away at a reader’s innards but also perhaps making them feel a little bit less lonely. A weird kind of friend. In 2014 I decided I wanted to make the books look as beautiful on the outside as the words and ideas they contained, and so ran our first ever fundraiser so I could letterpress print the covers of our chapbooks. This year we’re publishing five strange and essential texts: one novella and four chapbooks. In order to do so, BoL relies on our community of wild, smart readers and those who support texts that challenge, engage, play, and perform. By pre-ordering one or several (or all!) of our forthcoming chapbooks you support DIY feminist publishing as well as the authors, who will each receive a (small, but hopefully one day bigger) stipend. Thank you for reading, and being, and thank you especially to The Wanderer for publishing selections from each of our forthcoming books.