Photo: Das Sasha
Photo: Das Sasha
You don’t knock on my door anymore.
I’m left to that resonance of your last knock that ping pongs around my apartment like an invisible pinball.
I’m left to the vibrations like our hands intertwined on the keys of a piano pressed down hard with our feet on two pedals, letting our love ring long and loud but slowly dying down like a sick old dog.
I’m left to wonder if I still hear anything and at what point does living in memory become a madness.
A necklace, a gift, left to sleep in the bottom of a box.
Who’s to say that I’d wear it as a noose and not as the physical amalgamation of that song that comes on and transports you through time?
When we set things down to not carry them any longer, is it to forget or because they are already always there?
I look in the mirror as I wrap your necklace around my neck and watch as it sinks into my skin.
I hear a knock on my door but I don’t know if I’m home or not to answer it.
ghost #62 is.
Photo: Matthew T Rader
If I could give you the beat
I think King David danced to
I would use my rib bone as
my holy drumstick, my skin
pulled taut to be my drum, taut
like women pull at their flesh
in the mirror when they cry
If I could give you a boat
hewn from my own clavicles
bound with red cord, mortared with
red lipstick, I would let you
laugh and jump in the water
and I would glow when you called
my bones useful, sharp, precise
If I could give you my bones
weapons brittle and moonlit
with sewing needle scratches
the flaws of a blood diamond
I would say, Bones do not cry
Bones have no mouth to open
when they scream into the grave
Shelby Yaffe is a queer author, poet, and singer-songwriter living in Denver. Her short fiction has been featured in the Fast Forward Anthology Flash 101: Surviving the Fiction Apocalypse and in Suspect Press. Shelby would love to write a poem for your girlfriend. You can find out more about Shelby and her work at shelbyyaffe.com.
Photo: Jay Halsey
now this one is about you
city o, new song, beautiful detail
can i kiss you just a little
and my lips say no
like two seeds that suspect there might be
a forest hidden inside of them
I bought this postcard that reminds me of us.”
A Franz Kline, black against white
Lines spread across the canvass
Chaotic and untamed like me.
A “V” stands firm off-center.
It’s right held up by another reclining line
The black mess underneath make those two lines
look like an “A” and an upside down heart.
I miss the first night I heard your voice.
Once, we talked on the patio of a bar until 6AM
about love, Nixon, and family.
We sat between the picnic tables on astro turf
and my ass went numb.
A little after,
I got you to show me your tattoo
despite all resignation.
We drank and drank until two packs of cigarettes were gone.
I could live in that night.
I could live in you asking me to only speak Spanish to you.
I am drunk in lust for moments well past their expiration date.
If you look at the postcard closer,
the upside down heart looks like a man on his knees
reclined against a wall.
blending him into the background.
I melted under the weight of past memories.
All the bad came flooding in after I found a swastika in the elevator of our office.
I was alone and I was scared.
I choked on tears for hours unable to breathe.
Finally, I called you.
You asked all the wrong questions until you asked me what I needed.
I muttered my need.
You couldn’t hear me and asked again.
I said “sorry” and hung up.
I turned off my phone.
I don’t know how to trust.
Despite two months of closeness,
I couldn’t tell you that one time a rich man stole from me.
He wined and dined me
and I liked that he spent more money on me than what I paid in rent my Senior year of college.
I liked it until I woke up naked and bruised
all over with no memories after only 3 drinks.
I couldn’t tell you that this is what I think of with our President-elect.
I didn’t want the story to pour out of me that day.
I was scared if I’d have to hate you
if you ended up being someone who would say something stupid
like having “to know better.”
The woman on the train
said the postcard looks like structure.
She said it was beautiful
Like the black strokes beneath the “V”
were pieces to rebuild with.
She had a warm smile and kind eyes.
We hugged after Vegas.
I drove to San Diego
You called and called me with every mishap before you could get to Los Angeles
The thick of your voice kept me up on the lonesome road as I tried to forget foolish things
Like making you pinkie promise to lean on me the first night we met.
To never work against each other.
You told me to not doubt myself.
We planned to see New Orleans
This postcard reminds me of us.
In Los Angeles, when I called myself a Chicago 9 and a California 7
You corrected me and told me not to be so hard on myself
You ranked me a 9 in California.
We missed being able to smoke inside like we did in Las Vegas.
I asked you if I could stay the night
We played chess and drank whiskey
Infatuation and lust resurface.
The black lines at the top of the postcard show more focus.
The strokes uneven in pressure
Yet firm in direction.
This postcard reminds me of you.
You would not let it happen.
My lips on your shoulder and my fingers entwined in your chest hair
You said “We shouldn’t do it.”
I pressed my lips to your neck and asked, “Why?”
There was no caution there.
You did not waver.
The black strokes at the bottom of the postcard jut out in every direction.
The strokes are aimless and collide into each other
Some stop mid-thought
This postcard reminds me of me.
I could not breathe with your hands on me.
I turned away from you.
The white of the upside down heart covers some black.
It tries to cover up mistakes.
The white looks grayer on the right hand side.
This postcard is me.
We didn’t talk about what happened.
I puked two times and you told me I could find grape juice in the fridge.
We never talk about what happens.
We rode to IHOP and every bump made me more nauseous.
The firm strokes at the top are focused,
but not anymore kempt than the rest
They miss filling in spots
They change direction back before they can reach the end of the canvass.
This postcard is you
I can’t remember what we talked about in IHOP
I remember puking a third time and finally feeling like I could eat.
You said I was smiling again so it must have been a good sign.
Outside you told me the lipstick from last night was cracked into my lips and looked terrible.
The white of the canvass isn’t pristine
Shades of gray compliment the strokes
It takes up more space without imposing
The color is dull without the strokes taking up space.
You asked what you could do to be better.
I don’t have an answer for our friendship.
The postcard is brush strokes and pressure
It is hesitation and redirection.
It is structure
And it is impetuous.
I have this postcard for you.
I bought the same one for me.
-The Ghost of Esperanza
ghost #13 is an anomaly, a glitch in a movie that screams “wake up,” before we both almost drive the car off the side of the cliff.