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Jennifer Hanks

Corpse Poetica

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This is a poem about zombies.

This is a poem about bodies, about tissue seeping through nose cavities.

Falling into the snow with your heart in your palm, you wake up with a second life.

Inevitably, this is a poem about sewing skills. Arms must be reattached, limbs must be

stolen, garter belts must perform multiple functions.

Your body, though rotting, is a secret library.

In this poem, you lose your kidneys.

Do not worry about the sound of falling organs. Be consoled if, when a stranger shakes
your hand, you lose only one finger.

This is the poem where you lose the rest of your fingers.

The holes in your body are covered in book pages.

In this poem you cannot stop eating people.

Point to your beautiful body and tell them: These words will guide you to sleep.

What Home Was

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Let's say my mom went out to buy milk one night
in a slime-colored raincoat at eleven p.m.

Let's say I heard her leave over the video game
where I'm 007, rapid firing at a dirty TV screen.

Let's say the store lights called to her
the beasts in the meat packages like new children.

Let's say she thought she could start over
a nursery  cows growing back their limbs.

Hide it  she thought  Under your rain slicker

Let's say she didn't come home
for three days and it was nice.

Dry cereal and weed for breakfast,
my dogs snacking on sugary crumbs.

I'd walk to the beach and sink
into the dirty sand.

The waves would kick up fish
The waves would kick up fish

I'd find them still breathing
half-dried their gills red as grapefruit

cut in half so you could pour
sugar on top.

Where were you? I ask her.

She hands me an empty milk carton
smells like meat spoiling, like her clothes have absorbed
worms of ground beef.

Look  she says unzipping the rain slicker  What our home can be


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All day the twitterbot condenses my thoughts to the finest point—the needle our message can pass through. Skull bright & dissolving at will. You have turned my brain to confectioner's fog.

The dogs whine, their pupils are molten, their tongues hang out the sides of their mouths like paper cuts of meat.

I order vials of holy water off ebay and pour it into their bowls; my brain is a sugar hive; your voice echoes.

My mother molds, sinking further into the couch under layers of paper towels. Sucks macaroni powder from her knuckles. Dozens of coffee cups, filled with holy water and topped with milk, form a barrier around her feet.

The dogs stop eating. They drink only the water but their fur shines like stag beetles.

My brain is a sack of spilled sugar; you've flaked me down to dust. Blow me in their eyes. The dogs are scared or they are something else.

They whine, spit out their molars all over the carpet. Blood colors their water bowls like dried roses. They are puppies again, gnashing their swollen gums.

I'm itchy, Mary, and where are you as they pace in their loose skins. I run my hand along their spines to feel the wind underneath, pull it away like it's a ship that will wreck in their fur.

Their new teeth creep in, yellow as if already ancient. I am not ready to see what your animals will become.

Diamond Dogs

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Their skins fall open / like curtains / letting / in gloaming / bones shine like wet lips / hearts solid as / gemstones / they get up / can't smell you / shining / can't lick you / with parted lips / eyes green / (they see you) / but you can't / look into them / eyes gone sick / pupils are nowhere / heads solid / as gemstones / breath sharp as / diamonds / blood gone thick

Small Enough

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She made me take five toothbrushes and pack the dogs, their bones in a trunk, in a suitcase on wheels.

She did not make me pack the dogs—she told me no one else could see them. If I put my hands on their ribs, I would fade from view like a bee digging into pollen.

I left my mother. She had almost taken root in the couch, but she fought me when I cleaned out the freezer, when I threw the meat in our trashcan. She picked up the dog skins and draped them over the couch like blankets.

She smeared the blood on her face like makeup; she made blood vines on her arms, drawing intricate leaves. She didn't fight.

She smeared the blood on her face like makeup. My mother molds, a vessel of muscle rot & mingled blood. I could not leave her. I poured holy water down her shoulders and she shrank small enough to fit in the trunk. She sloshed around in there like a sea monkey.

I called the high school and withdrew. I turned in my last assignments, the pages all carrying a subtle watermark.

I didn't call the school. I fucked a friend instead— in his parents' poolhouse, gently kneading his shoulders. My mouth kept missing his. Ash filled my eyes; they were silver like a gum wrapper, they were dark like an oily sea.

I bit his shoulder hard. I called the school, I didn't turn in anything. I left my mother, shrunken, the size of a raccoon, on our living room couch. She put her whole face in a mug of coffee. She smiled up at me with her miniature features. She died and I saw her soul rising, pink and gold, crackling like a bottled electrical storm.

Bone Heel Sermon 1

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I'm a snake oil salesman. A pretty-dirty in rags.

We're in Georgia. We're in Tennessee. My heart is lonely but my face looks willing.

I'm in a church, I'm in a greasy spoon.

My voice is louder than it ought to be,
flapping out of my throat like a bird being born.

I'm a dog breath zombie caller
  and I need you to believe me.

Cue the dogs walking through the open doors, eyes constellation white / bone heels crushing a fry.

Mary says through my mouth:

Listen, sinners, there are some things
you need to know.

The dogs sit down at my feet, every motion a door creaking open in the night.

I'm in front of the altar, I'm standing on the counter.

I might as well put my hand in a deep fryer,

but I say:

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