A Book Of PhotosI burn incense even though the smoke sticks in my throatA Book Of Photos by ClamShellHeart
because the smell makes me feel less alone and
I imagine the little glowing tip gnashing (like a small dog to a big dog) at the cold
as I flip through a book of photography I stole
from an almost empty house a couple months ago.
“From David and Mary Christmas 1984”
is scrawled on the inside of the book like a kernel of lore
from the almost empty house with the unlocked backdoor,
and an attic full of paper, books, and envelopes of buttons,
pieces from a chemistry set and a Columbus music venue poster from 2011.
I remember it as a sunset and a creek that ran dry
so we could cross, beyond the fence and into the trees unseen by driveby eyes,
a gas station dinner and burrs that felt like the sound of hovering flies.
Brian took a book of maps and I took an anthology of pictures,
they were both closed for so long they aged like white oak barrel liquor.
Ever since I brought mine home I’ve barely seen a flicker
Dream ChaserI asked them for cigarettes and they gave them to meDream Chaser by ClamShellHeart
striking the lighter until the fuel ran out,
whole packs burning, hanging out of my mouth.
I wanted to be beautiful when I was younger
so I put on a dress and searched for my light
and then waited in it.
Someone put in a book in my hand, took a step back and called me Dream Chaser.
I wasn’t moving in the grass with smoke in my lungs like aluminum in ant hills.
It got hard to breathe.
I grew hungry for the dark. Outside my clearing were apartments full of photographs
of all the people I would never be, each with a title
floating in the crisp, languid air.
I asked them for health and they tried folding me into
some other body, smacked my back
but the metal wouldn’t surface. The things I’d already done
would not leave me.
My head and hands grew
but the rest of me stayed the same.
It’s cold out here and now I’m filling my intestines
with molten, carbonated, amber-colored glass.
When I take a step away I will
I Want To Be GoodI want to be good but they make liquor sweetI Want To Be Good by ClamShellHeart
and smoke bend
gracefully like ideological pearl necklaces,
a string of something sweet to suck on,
I pretend it’s on my tongue
like a secret
and smile at the wall.
A part of me reminds the rest
this is how some people fall from grace and into
sloppy schooless gudders,
fall in with the leaves that bang down streets
without any more push that a baby trying a fist,
breaking quietly into pieces.
A release of pressure from an empty faucet,
words like crushed rust droplets;
The rest reply in a hiss,
or maybe it will be fine.
I am blissful and swimming,
weightless, even in dirty water,
but I’m so close even my blood is translucent,
my tongue is fungal and luminescent.
I string the droplets together
clenching a doctors note prescribing crossed fingers
in overfull, uncaring hands.
QuittingThe smoke wafts upwards into the shapeQuitting by ClamShellHeart
of a tombstone, and then curls away
like the bend of a cat whisker,
proud and fading.
Meanwhile, though I’m no civil student,
I build drift highways on paper
to the smell of coffee grounds
and loudness, like two pillows,
pressed against my ears.
I don’t make it far, on paper.
Instead I imagine the speed of the ocean
easing in and out of lungs,
smooth and woody like shallow rivers, and a note of electricity,
acidic like a battery, and I hold it there.
It makes the shape of my lungs
but then, fluids always fill