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Rebecca Connors

St. Bosco's Carnival, Topeka, KS

I am alligator-jawed     live-wired
firecrackers sparkling
along my seams. Red-

jacketed monkeys surround me
a rubied arc     as you enter the Ring:

the Amazing… Tourniquet!
Unfold your long arms
with a bow that stills
the applause –

and then

wrap them around my body

and then

around again to meet your back.
Knotted. A wink to me

and then, the drum roll

please             you squeeze and

my stomach deflates my insides glide
up like an escalator a balloon in my head
about to pop    I fall
backwards ragdoll

this is when they go oooooooooh

we cleave to each other

skin to skin. Stars shimmer
in my eyes

my body tells me we're near
the end. Your spotlight-washed
face is always calm

at the edge I can feel
the crowd hunching in. Hold.
Take more

their hush screams like a cavern.
Hold. I sizzle

in the stillness
envisioning inhales. The more

you take. Tighter –

They're waiting
for my               null

breath I'm



To the Inspector

He never forgave me
for talking

measures my words
in quarts and
inverted lampshades—

I offer up so many

trolleys and dragons

forsythia and sacrosanct

he wields a scalpel
for its thin angry neck

I say, I love you to 100

he slivers words
into letters, shredded


syllables discarded
half-eaten apples

I still believe
my words roll mountains

negotiation, nightshade

floating and flexing
against each other
a full bleed

my orange words
silvering this exit

Mary's Land

Her red swimsuit stripes her pale body
like candy cane, and she eats strawberries

daily, fistfuls at least, so her mouth
is red, her teeth are red, her fingernails

red. She plays Putt-Putt alone, knocking her pink
neon golf ball along the matted turf to its lonely

rat-a-tat-tat in the plastic hole. Next door, older boys
play ball against the wall of the 7-11, their shouts

interrupt her idle concentration as they shake off
the Choptank morning, sorting crabs, sweating

out the traps and the hard claws pinching air, while inside,
the manager fidgets with a bouquet of black-eyes,

eating honeydew, snow cones, dollar dogs, watching
for her red swimsuit, though he is not waiting,

to walk past the boys, who were just throwing
their brine into the asphalt, storming the wall,
beaten arms tiny crabs

➥ Bio