Spoken Word: Three Poems by Gina Marie Bernard
mound in spaded basement earth, its cool breath unspooling worm silk about your ankles;
school like whiskered catfish rising blindly through silted current to gulp burnished air,
mouths lipped like open ulcers;
whisper with Leonard Cohen through the hiss of a lost AM station as your brake lights blink feline down another back alley;
witness the consumptive specter haunting your desktop monitor;
surge in spasms of searing shame that roil like serpents into bowls of morning porcelain;
swarm like ants to the seed you once spilled amid a green haze of ordered corn,
your father’s stolen Playboy again interred inside a rusting Folger’s can;
lie beneath the stage-paint smile you’ve smeared from ear to year.
But time unveils how you’ve spent your life—capering down tilted hallways to punch
fists through these funhouse mirrors.
ordering off the menu
the onset of another panic attack settles
as i contemplate lunch at Zorbaz,
a restaurant chain whose towering menu
boasts world-class pizza and Mexican.
exhuming the contents of my purse,
i fail to unearth any Xanax—anxiety pressed
like funeral loam beneath my trembling nails.
when have my friends begun mouthing
soundless dialogue—actresses awaiting
voice-over in a colossal lizard film?
an alien impersonating our waitress
wends nearer, leering;
ornately painted marionettes, dance
and when it is my turn to order
i say i would like
to prick myself with a safety pin
and curl about the ceiling, the inside of my deflating skin
turned out, still moist from my final exhalation.
i would like
to press fingers through my eyes;
to pluck them from my skull;
to wear them like puppet olives, pimentos
streaming from the rootless hollows.
my fucking brain washed
in bucketed bleach solution—left overnight
to soak clean these petitions
stained with so much fierce peril.
these tics and guttural explosives,
the elocutions of a braying hyena.
may i please
shed my clothes across the parking lot?
cocoon myself in penitent wool?
swallow this tongue swollen with detestation?
French inhale exhaust from a length of garden hose?
and did i mention i need all of this to go?
Railway steel sings,
pending winter freight.
Buntings startle a washwater sky.
March hares draft hesitant
script upon this daybreak.
Our house stirs keen,
evening’s fight cut short.
Window view—the cat’s eraser nose
spots cloudy glass.
With skeletal lilacs
I compose cursive blows.
She descends without a word.
My lips part, the outline
of a battening moon.