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Niina Pollari


Life as a skeleton


I’m alone because I’m separated
From others by a soft body
A body is a clumsy idea to a skeleton
Who rests and dances like a bone house

A body is a tarp thrown over a house
Keeping specks of dust that rise from the street
From touching the bones until it’s time
As far as I’m concerned

When I am in the rising dust of the street
At night or under the dry palm of the sun
Others still talk to me about my soft body
Though I’m alone and made of bone

And the ones who speak to me
Like gangs of soft hounds
Full­throating by a fence
Are bloody bodies too

I wonder what they contain
They ask me if I want a kiss
I want nothing
So I walk away

When I walk away from them
I walk away as a skeleton
My foot bones clacking
Like good tap shoes

When a skeleton walks
It’s mathematical
It makes you feel lines
Connecting in logical ways

Life as a skeleton feels good
Smooth and comprehensible
I forget to be afraid
When I am bones

Fear lives in the soft body
Pings around in the veins
Burrows into fat
Like a bug

The only emotion
Reserved for bones
Is the relief I deserve
When I know it’s time



Are You a Hand-Sculpted Animal


I’ve been training
I told my friend that I wanted to be strong
As we walked a long and cumbersome route to her reading
I meant that I wanted to be so hard that it makes me feel
Like I might not die

I like imagining myself with power
Pain from muscle effort is a memory of desire for power

Training means a part of me is always in pain
Women’s bodies are often bombed with pain
And women become flyover states of pain
Because this pain is regarded as unimportant
So OK, I’ll do it myself

I fling myself around the park
Heave myself onto the treadmill
Move various weights with enormous effort
Until my shirts are wet at the armholes
And sweat beads lattice my upper lip

After, I feel horsey and satisfied
As pain runs its large hands up the muscles of my legs

It’s pretty pure
To me the purest art is when you commit
Enough to admit you committed

Commitment to me is
That I’m telling you about it now






Niina Pollari is the author of Dead Horse (Birds, LLC 2015) and the translator of Tytti Heikkinen's The Warmth of the Taxidermied Animal (Action Books 2012). She lives in Brooklyn and coordinates a yearly megareading called Popsickle.