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nina puro


girl like you, place like this


A faceplant is to a magnet
as an unburned wick is to a shoebox
full of photographs. Tell me whether you’re waiting,
too, for disaster & have stopped waiting for that plunge
inside your chest again, pebble
into a well. Consider the magnets’ hiss
where the data frays & the tilt of the polar field
matching a map of Manhattan plopped down
skewed due North. Consider where your parents are
in relation to this map & where they thought
they’d be now when they were your age.
One way this could go is three yellowed
fronds on a windowsill & the delivery
boys finally biking home. Saplings
drown in spring floods. I am here to clip
my fingernails all over your map.
Consider the crows that caw above a burned field
& all that glints between our two bodies.
One way this could go is a fever, a laying on of hands,
a couch to sweat it out, a field outside the window.
Another way this could go is that train chugging behind
the window & folks sitting beneath full luggage eating
& empty. Consider that the Judean date palm sprouts again
from seeds found in a sarcophagus
& the two thousand years between the two
of scorched earth warfare. I am here
not to fly, but to scrabble for hollows.  To sidle by quiet.
One way this could go is for you to listen,
but I’m not expecting it. Tell me what you are to ____.
What you need to heal. Consider rooms of lace & unguent jars
where brown hands slather clay
onto pale chests, wait for it to crack. Consider
hospitals without potable water.
A man told me when the water table rises we will still be held
between the four sacred mountains and we will live
in plain sight. A woman said someone will leave
a porch light on for us. We will watch
the sun come up together. Consider that ugly brown
sweater you only wear when you're sad
& everything you ever kept in the pockets
and whether you hunger like the man
or the woman. The opposite of a calla lily is a bell.
Both have tongues. Consider yours ripped
out at the roots & what you’ll eat for dinner. Tell me
what you’re looking for. In the fields out back
they’re digging in the frozen earth. They’re digging
to find or to bury. They’re pouring
hot water on the dirt. They’re pouring
coffee thick as mud into their mouths. Their teeny eyes
are clouded as limo windows, curdled as milk.


Service Industry


For G., K., & L.

The rich boys wait for me to pour their beers; I wait
till I can flip their chairs, then sit. All my dead friends

have hands like horses & perfect teeth
now.  The bus I take home passes.

I’m not getting on yet. I know most of the time, some camera’s
recording me, but nobody will watch. Some star implodes.

I Paypal flower money for the latest hearse
on my phone. Tap the first cigarette out, flip it,

ease it back in. It’ll be the last one I’ll smoke.
In this pack. A lightning-struck tree stops

smoldering. I pour the beers & a shot for me.

If her drowning was a declaration,
the message was muddled but kept pouring

into any hollow place, skin or soil, disappeared
quick. When I woke, it was still raining

& I didn’t have much to say. Skim-milk sun.
Wet birds & cigarette butts huddled on the sill. Seventeen

emails. In the trees downstairs, a kid coughs or maybe laughs.  

We were glazed with our sickness. Until we weren’t.
Between groups we’d glide through the halls,

our blankets around us like capes.
Of course I’d radiate her pain back on me.

Really, it wasn't a drowning. Her heart stopped.
In her sleep. Of course you'd want to know

how she died, & why.


Self-portrait with backlit jar tourists make slow circles around


Dream your body
a yellow kitchen & fill it

with a family laughing,
a family coughing.

Dream your body the empty
house next door.

Wake to find your body the roots
clogging their pipes,

their burned-out block, the match
that started the tongues belling out,

the soldier that struck it, the church-bell,
the milk-teeth of the general

rotting in a jar.





Nina Puro’s work is forthcoming or recently appeared in BETTER: Culture and Lit, H_NGM_N, Hobart, Indiana Review, Jellyfish, Prelude and other places. A chapbook, Two Truths & A Lie, will drop from dancing girl press in 2015. Nina lives in Brooklyn, works in publishing, and is bad at thinking of clever third-person quips to put in places like this.