2 poems by April Bratten

                                                            “A Devil Says to Me”
                                                            I stand on a pile of soot with a devil.

                                                            He tells me I am the damned,
                                                            a flat-footed horse,
                                                            a piece of hollowed wood,
                                                            a great big thing without a cough.

                                                            He tells me that inside my itching bones
                                                            there is a flare that shoots up and
                                                            needles my skin into the empty shaking sky.

                                                            Empty, he tells me, empty,
                                                            but I am not afraid.

                                                            This is not like disaster,
                                                            and sometimes it is a thing quite alright,
                                                            a rain that is all and everything,
                                                            all parts and all madness,
                                                            a wash of cool wind,
                                                            a toasty blanket of hair.

                                                            But how
                                                            that devil
                                                            to feel me

                                                            using the opportunity
                                                            to dig inside my wave electric
                                                            and find blood for pearls,
                                                            peelings of nasty
                                                            that flake from my throat.

                                                            He does not care
                                                            that I can be something spoken like porcelain,
                                                            using gray, using clear sounds,
                                                            the rain that hits tin cans.

                                                            He does not care
                                                            for my pristine prim of entrails,
                                                            the running underside of an ox,
                                                            the quiet that persists.

                                                            He just
                                                            girl, you are a
                                                            muffled sound
                                                            in a box.

                                                            And what will that devil do,
                                                            I ask,
                                                            if my heart split into five,
                                                            each little piece,
                                                            a shriek
                                                            that crashes from my fingernails,
                                                            and my front tooth,
                                                            a pulse
                                                            to match the extracting light,
                                                            a throb inside my open womb mouth,
                                                            alive and ugly?

                                                            And that devil,
                                                            he just turns to me
                                                            and he says—-




                                                            Love was the color of rooster blood
                                                            letting slow over a set of special ankles,

                                                            the sound of one clap tough in the dark,

                                                            or a 2 minute thunderstorm on the thin roof,
                                                            just enough, just enough.
                                                            I was careful.

                                                            I did not eat the rooster in the daytime.

                                                            I was quiet on the staircase,
                                                            a shred of fitful sleep,
                                                            a steady moving disaster of hate notes.

                                                            The house I wanted,
                                                            now just a brain on a couch, an inconvenience.

                                                            All the little piggies could not see.

                                                            Piggies on the midnight cue,
                                                            piggies on the dumb,
                                                            piggies stuck in syrup movements
                                                            too blind to see, see, see,
                                                            me coming.

                                                            I burned the papers brighter, brighter
                                                            than his voice on Mondays,
                                                            deeper, deeper than his sting,
                                                            harder, harder than his heart.

                                                            I was careful.

                                                            I burned away his everything.

                                                            Butter soft bones, he was a long line of boys,
                                                            pigeon shit.

                                                            I did not eat the rooster in the night-time.

                                                            I was careful.
                                                            I turned a little head.

                                                            April Bratten                                                    

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