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Jillian M. Phillips


Sometimes I don't shower for days,
let my hair get stringy, grease slick
skin, waste water, sweat vellum,
dirt callous feet, elbow crust,
all my creases gathering ferment.
This is what I'll smell like
when I start to decay.
I'm preparing to be awake
the whole time I'm dying.


I have been a participant
in the feasting of my own flesh.
I've painted, tied, and trussed myself
into a juicy roast of succulent flavors.
Stuck my body on the spit.
Invited the teeth to rip
and tear away my glitter skin.
Fricasseed my black lungs,
yellow fingernails, the various
holes and treasure troves.
My gray pallor, overcooked
to toughness, but the closest
to silver and sky. Apple
like a ball gag. Splayed
like the butchering's yet to come.

Felling the Orange Tree

I want to be a glamorous disaster:
Faye Dunaway
in a gold ball gown
destroying the garden—
Bring me the axe!—
a small nick on her forehead.

I want to be wearing lipstick,
an inappropriate red,
as I implode:
a million points of light
spreading inward
into nothing.


So suture me again, needle-fingered
bald man who so carefully wore an ascot
to my wound parade. Your knot
was too flaired paisley to be ironic,
but suitable for tourniqueting.
No tuxedo was ever so fancy for stitches,
but staples and duct tape make a pretty dressing.

Igneous Child

(Ash-covered or magma'ed)
Once he was your lava:
all gold tongue
wet, leather zipper's friction.
His fruition was fat,
loved you to a stretch mark
graveyard. He's the ghost
haunting you
every time you look at me.
I'm your Pompeii:
beautiful island, melted,
relic of itself.
I've always known
I was a natural disaster.
Hot liquid, hardened,
I cooled everything.


At some point, we stopped calling it

"melancholia." Clinically: depression,

severe, chronic, seasonal. We gave it
dresses to wear, personalities
to reflect that it was personal
but personable. Like biting a pearl
to see if it's rough (fake) or smooth (real).

Drugged away, talked away, tucked away
into the secret drawer where we also kept
our vibrators and extra boxes of cookies
we'd consume in a single sitting.

We didn't let it be "manic" because
that led to "uncontrollable." Bipolar.

Our minds can be like magnets, both
attracting and repulsing themselves.
Always, we are being upended.

Really, the glamour is gone. No glitter
left in the wallow, the only shine's
been dimmed, replaced with small, white.

Even the blueness is medicinal.

➥ Bio