Lorrie Ness is a poet in Virginia (USA). Her work can be found in numerous journals,
including THRUSH, Palette Poetry and Sky Island Journal. She was nominated for a
Pushcart Prize in 2021 and her chapbook, "Anatomy of a Wound" was published by
Flowstone Press in July of 2021.


Don't be coy.
I know you're fixin to come.
I got what you want — lack of sleep,
a bottle of wine and a drop in estrogen.
It's as good as done. I'll leave
the door unlocked, see you before dawn.
And there you are. The pulsating
jelly of my eye. The Jell-O of my brain.
A focal sweet spot. A flambe
of meninges at my service.
I won't lie. On nights
when I wake up with you
already wrapping yourself around me,
it's just sweat you got me drippin.
You know I like the slow burn, the sparks
flashing in the corner of my eye —
that dizzy, that daze, that off-kilter zizz
that's got no word. Baby it
was just a fling. They were just flings —
that year you lost your aura
and I never knew when you'd be coming around.
But now I need you,
to listen to your girl. Calm down. Take your fingers out
of my hair, relax your grip above my ear.
There's no need for revenge. I told you
Imitrex meant nothing to me.
Even Maxalt, Amerge and Emgality
couldn't knock you.

Minutes From a Consultation

Use a Pilot .5 gel pen.
Jot notes, writing just the nouns and verbs.
Leave space for assumptions — gaps
in place of adjectives, empty parentheses instead of adverbs.
Go for skeletal. Go for broke. Go as fast
as your fingers can vascularize the page with ink.
Keep your head down. For Christ's sake,
lean into your elbow with your cheek. Level your eyes
with the page and lay your ear flat against your arm.
She's saying temporal lobe, the firestorm
of epilepsy. Some people can hear the voice of God,
smell colors and see music in the light.
Write 'some.' Italicize some. People
is ambiguous. Doesn't she know
you need to write inside the margins? P_____
scratch it out. An adjective. A mistake.
You need to switch it up
to the .7 Paper Mate Ink Joy.
Use green for the next 5 minutes and blue
for the final 10. The second hand is ticking.
Ticking. Ticking. Make a dot for its every jump
using red with your other hand. Yes! Synchronize & stipple.
An eye on the time and an ear to her lips.
Write down aura. Write down deja-vu.
Fuck the accent marks. Just focus on the spelling.
Sound it out: Hippocampal sclerosis.
Shes lobbing soft pitches now: EEG, meds, rest.
The clock has borrowed your hand. The clock says
it likes your hand better. Your pen is beating music by proxy,
lifting it off the wall. So many red dots.
Use a purple felt tip.
Connect them all.


Let's say his name was Spider.
Picture a white man's ribs glowing
in the black light behind beaded curtains.
Do I need to tell you the couch cushions were emaciated
as his sunken chest? That his left arm hung on air
like a broken antenna in search of a buzz?
Maybe you already know the reek
of carpet pad marinated by a bong,
and can crawl your way across a floor mined with ashtrays,
bodies and bras. I don't have to remind you
that Spider's the only name you'll need to know,
that skin works the same as cash, and every line is cut
with something you like to call clean.
I don't have to remind you to pay up front —
to pray he can get it hard, then pray he keeps it soft.
You've already been branded.
It's the smell semen and Wild Turkey,
lingering in your hair, it's another woman's eyelids
fluttering open, watching from across the room.
It's the way you'll see her every time
a man grips your hips from behind — maybe
you've found the answer to loneliness,
the way to people your world with ghosts.
Maybe you already knew you came here to get fucked
up. That you'll forget the days
but remember it all.

Outside the Window

a buzzard with a missing leg
muscles his way on top of a carcass,
rummaging his head beneath a flap of hide
as other beaks gouge a channel between the ribs.
This is the way

one wound heals another
wounding. Years ago, you told the future,
called my quivering lips pure sap as you walked away.
And now bourbon makes sepia of a tumbler,
drowns my reflection

in liquid amber.
It takes time to harden off
in the leading edge of spring. And more time still
to grow soft again, like this deer
whose once stiff belly

is now placental,
and seeping into the ground. You'll never feel the same
earth tucking close around your sides.
Through the glass, ice cubes
bend light around your urn

and I shift my gaze
back to the window, where the one-legged buzzard
is just another mouth ripping flesh from bone.
The race between hunger and healing
is about filling in

the empty spaces.
I can still hear the echo of your .22,
your laughter as the rabbit spasmed and I had to look away.
When it was your turn to shudder and fall,
my grief

packed some final hole.
I waited for a sadness that never arrived,
carried a handkerchief that would never unfold. Even now,
I stare at the injured bird, have no urge
to turn away.

Back to Front.