This is what I have to give you. Leftovers
that aren’t vegan, not even food really—
burnt leather scraps for a heart, but my God,
I’ve been saving them for you.
I’ll leave what I have at your feet
like a proud cat littering mice across the stoop.
So this is love. So this is entropy. I’ll break
every bone in my feet running toward
the shiny gate of it.
The whole damn sky holds its breath.
Let me be holy and warm.
Let me be the exhale. The best wine.
The wish on every eyelash.
Take As Needed
The angels of Klonopin put me back in my body
for the afternoon. How easy
it could be to up the dosage until I am all kind and dumb,
pleading nothing to the gods who do nothing.
How many milligrams does it take to get to the center
of the mind’s tornado, that calm eye?
How many more to stay there
while the café orders come in,
fingers stabbing gently at the register,
a boss eyeing a survival poem tattooed
on my forearm, Do you have another job
as a billboard? I smile as hard as I can.
It can be easy to feed people
who aren’t myself. To carry plates with omelets
and smile at old ladies who order decaf,
which means making a fresh French press
which is effort but easy.
I Keep Trying to Functional
But then I run into my ex-AA sponsor at a lake house party
that my new café job boss is throwing
and I’m holding a local IPA, Flower Power,
and I’m not drunk, not like I used to get, but still
I could disappear into her questioning nod—
the what if I fall back into obliterate skull,
into fuck the puffy scar of sixteen in an airport motel
when I didn’t say no exactly;
I’d given up on that. Already,
I am teetering before the bonfire, doing nothing
wrong per se, letting the smoke chase me
in a circle around the pit.
I go march against sexual
violence & a man I know
best as a brunch-maker
& worst as the slippery
agreement between whiskey
& yes, is holding a sign
that says, consent is
sexy. I remember the flame,
the hole his cigarette left
on my silver blouse,
& know it’s not the same
as the burn victim I saw
on the subway—I was ashamed
to see everyone’s terror at her
aliened face, her quiet
suggestion of what can be
endured. In my monster life,
a cold man on the bus needs
heat, & I give it to him.
Fear rides him as he watches
each limb learn to glow,
then ash. I give him my hand
& say, This scar is yours—
which is half of why I am
alone. I’m told freedom is
a credit limit increase
& an apartment of one’s own.
I can buy every glimmer
I want, except God,
which is the other half
of why. I still pray
with these clammy hands.
Waiting at the Temp Agency
The grace today is that employers can’t see it, the suicide, unless they look in my eyes
hard enough. They can’t see the healed nerve damage that limped me down the academic
halls for months, my right foot a dead fish. Did you fall? the hospital nurses asked. All I
could think was stairs / paramedics / trying to stand up when I wasn’t anywhere near my
body/ my poor roommate hauling me. Yes, I’d say, uncertain. I must have fallen.
Stevie Edwards is a Lecturer in the English Department at Cornell University, where she recently completed her MFA in creative writing. She is also Editor-in-Chief of Muzzle Magazine and Acquisitions Editor at YesYes Books. Her first book, Good Grief, was published by Write Bloody in 2012 and subsequently received the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award and the Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze in Poetry. Her second book, Humanly, is forthcoming from Small Doggies in 2015. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, Verse Daily, Indiana Review, Devil’s Lake, Salt Hill, and elsewhere.