Audra Puchalski lives in Oakland, California (USA) and is the author of a chapbook,
Queer Hagiographies. Her work has been published in Bat City Review, Juked,
Superstition Review, Cutbank Online, and others.

Trash Angel

I'm so bored I'm ripping down power lines.
I'm rattling the windows. I'm tearing branches
off the trees and hurling them at cars.

I say, "Audra, this sounds like an inside
problem, not an outside problem."
I say, "Actually, not everything is my fault?"
I say, "You both make good points."

I look up at the moon, but it's not
the moon, it's the Earth. I keep trying
to stuff more person inside my body

but it won't fit, and if that's
the Earth, then where are we?
We gather. We stare at the sky.
Nobody says anything.

You can't be sure you're not asleep unless
you keep checking. Can you put your finger
through your other palm, can you read

the same text twice, is your body an alien's
body, does the lightswitch work. You can't
be sure you love someone unless
you're getting fucked. Come

fuck me in my squalor, in my heavenly
landfill. I'm a real angel, left boot
on a demon's face, trail of trash

in my wake. See, here's my giant sword,
my million tons of plastic bags, my short
white gown rippling in the breeze, some
glitter that fell off a greeting card—

but I can't tell you any more. If I did,
I'd have to put all this garbage down.
I'd have to dismember this demon

while leaving my valuables (value is
highly subjective) unattended and you
know what they say about that in
grocery store parking lots: don't do it.

I don't even need groceries—I'm
a celestial being.

In the distance a small bell rings
incessantly, panicked. That's me
too. That's my toilet drugs

wearing off. That's heaven
creeping in.

Another Underworld is Possible

A nest is a vessel for birds to grow their own down.
A vessel is a goblet, a bowl; a gravy boat sails across the sea
of gravy. A boat holds her passenger of gravy, and tasting
her gravy, palpating her gravy, drenched in her gravy,
she applauds herself, the full to overflowing vessel of her
self. One ear pointed at hell, one ear pointed at the crunchy
song of the hummingbird in the sky. Another underworld
is possible, cry the radical dead, pulling down the statues
of the devil and smashing them to pieces, gathering
the pieces to paint with paint made of crushed snails,
of beetle-shells suspended in a medium, to assemble
into mosaics to decorate their rooms in hell, to barnacle
their shells in hell. Heaven is never all it's cracked
up to be, heaven always has a base note of hell, the desks
in heaven cuneiformed with pocked knifed warnings
and laments. The apple tree cut down for kindling. The fruit
scooped furtively up by the hungry, which is everyone.

Frank O'Hara

The tiny desks women used to write letters on—space
for a sheet of paper and a forearm's
slow bloom towards the elbow, cascade of hair
falling over one side, cataract
of writing on the other. A dog's crate
should be just big enough for them to stand
and turn around—any bigger, it won't be
calming enough, denlike enough. At Catholic school
dances they'd say, leave room for the holy spirit, which
also leaves room for the devil. They knew nothing
of a queer gaze across distance—intimate
and far away—the wild pollen fields of letters, serpentine
breaking off from the earth. Anyway,
personism. That's it, that's the whole tweet. The whole
joke, by which I mean, if I think of personism I laugh
until tears well up and I will never recover from this
grief that just gets worse with time. A dead star's
light shooting through space: I don't know what
to do with that. Finite, mortal. How to live?
What to do? Asterism, lid of the teapot, trio
of asterisks, ellipses running clear across
the page, finite indefinite space, time. A luminary's
worthless in daylight, the stars drowned out.
The scalene feminine compels you to leave space
for Beelzebub! Her softness, her demonic beckoning!
An Instagram-famous disabled cat shows so much
has been wasted, unknowable vast quantities
of beauty, love, etc. When she dies they say she crossed
the rainbow bridge and I remember Mariokart 64, how
my friends hated that level, how we all kept falling off
the rainbow into the huge void of space, but I loved it
because it was beautiful—the void of space made
the corkscrew-tangled translucent rainbows beautiful.
If it ever froze here, the rot would pause—
instead, decay is constant, droning, running
in the background like a heartbeat. What does this
mean for poems, when everything vibrates through
everything else like prey crashing into a spiderweb?
Being tied down seems correct now. The isometry
of silk and muscle. Formed, poured, ingot
of flesh, planet and animal in cahoots. You can't see
but I'm wearing my crown, my halo of light, each jewel
mapped perfectly onto the sky.

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