BONE STUFF, by Jesse Rice-Evans

Jesse RiceEvans is a queer Southern poet based in NYC. Read her work in Heavy Feather Review, HOLD, tenderness yea, and in the chapbooks The Rotting Kind (Ghost City Press) and Soft Switch (Damaged Goods Press), among others. She’s a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches writing at the City College of New York and the Cooper Union.


Something about luxury is sinful, incivil in new streaks; I gobble gold bangles, hand-painted trout lures spangling my dress; I want to be forgotten, not like when you stayed out on the lake the hottest night of the year and the howling of the downtown streets kept me bent in panic, but how stuff decomposes faster in water, my fingerprints slickened with algae

I am a bottomless body, a carved hunk named something discrete: flank, strip, offal; I see you hungering for my trachea, pancreas, don’t forget the sumptuous slope of my tricep, my haunch. Keep me whole, hypomania filling only half my skin; instead, a crimping: now I loose a bonfire like I found myself in a pine-needle dungeon, dripping wet with fog

Your last kiss, brief as a photograph, means more than slinking under the porch full of scrubbed grace, roving incompatible

Bone Stuff

It hurts, to listen to women talk around me; it was something my body swallowed, guzzling stress in my skull, ricocheting around my body, a long fragment of emotivity, seared and blistering at the ends, fraying wire crackling against the air around me. This was my body for so long, I didn’t feel it start and I certainly didn’t expect its devolution into abject, withered muscle, seizing carpal spasmodic.

Again and again I hear sacrifice but I know it isn’t

Again and again I hear wound but I know it isn’t
but I don’t know what it is

except leaving room for mistakes,
courtesy patience virtuous in ways made long, you keep trying
but not finding the ways to keep me close

We don’t do gentle like we used to
but what is

Except maybe a leaf or a feathered ivory dog peering out of a wicker basket on the A train, blinking slowly, or the fluff of my bronzing hair after a hot shower

A gross blanket, a swimming fossil

Orthopedist slinking in to begin my week, pool of calendar days to drown in, a holiday sparking a manic episode but in dreams everything is smooth-edged and gentle, a classroom blooming eager blossoms, blood thrilling up my throat, spine beckons

What I’m Losing

Some nights a band tightens around my ribs, a closing I forgot clenched me before but loosened with time, or by swallowing the stretch of fascia, connective gunk lashing quixotic, inexplicable except to cry for rest for home

The places my arms can’t bend are the worst: lonely swatches of bodyhunk bodythings backbody everybody needs to touch their back once but only so much can be said for the closeness of palming my own back, another thing I cannot do, the stripe I paint across my heat a longitude for how the spine shrinks after too long in bed

My speckled neck a reminder of what I’m losing; a sliver more every day, flawed bodies are forgettable usually but how I am both withering and widening is chipping away at me in ways foolish and restless no settling, no forgiveness

This feels like how the film of sleep feels, it was there, feathers drifting behind my shed skin, a mouthed creature visualizing itself gone

Good cry means moon, drenched, bathtub, fern draped down shower like a web, taupe tile filling with resentment and breaking , starting over, doing anything kick whistle yelp trail hold, hold

More Like a Saga

I never had to hold you by the edges like this

You should know me better: how my story wounds itself, the story changes, I gobble it back down, my throat a horror show, how I shelled myself

I open my mouth for you

Laugh yrself feral

I am not full enough to handle these hills, this contrast, this train mouth, the edge of something
round, something traumatic

An anathema to others, to one-ness