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February 23, 2022 Poetry

Three Poems

Rebecca Hawkes

Three Poems photo

Party Animal

pleasure is a wicked art, and I have committed my very own sins of decadence…..
stolen truffle oil drizzled over chicken nuggets
or overripe bananas steeped in bourbon and gulped down
in luxuriant insensitivity to my guests
who cannot morally support the high-concept cocktail
that must be chewed on for best effect………

I am a good-time gal achieving minor renown at parties
for drinking anything she’s dared to……
sugar-free cola sieved through onion skins
or a foaming cup offered by someone who is already laughing
but will not tell me what’s in it until I have taken a sip…………………
these dented platform dancing shoes have repeatedly scuffed over the line

between crowd-pleaser clowning and abject lack of self-respect………..
but as the songs say: I am a girl, therefore I just wanna have fun…….
and although the shame lives in me like a well-nourished tapeworm
it soothes me to sate it on piratical drinks with names like Skull Punch
before mortal humiliation consumes any more of my real and precious self……………….
though not every concoction is a burlesque of slapstick defensiveness……

sometimes I am a blasphemous genius, a libertine mixologist
stirring Christmas fruit mince with spiced rum, apple juice and a hearty splash
of a dry bubbly with a tart yet rounded finish, asking if you want one glacé cherry
or two, asking you to trust me…….. and when you are drunk enough
to pierce my ears with a safety pin…….. the apple, the lighter, the inflamed lobe……
the river of unstoppable blood pouring down my sleeve into my drink…

and it is still delicious, if not even more so, although you remain unconvinced……………..

Pink fairy armadillo

One of your axolotls has eaten the other
and every week you clean its twenty-litre tank
of cannibal excrement. I consider your commitment
to caring for that stunted salamander.
However rancid its clownish ruff,
it will always be your baby. And I
will be what exactly? Above your bed
you have thumbtacked photographs of a stag
chewing its own sloughed velvet like wet jerky
and a pair of bumblebees at worship
in the upsetting symmetry of a passionflower.
Beneath the grubby dog-eared splendours of nature
sex churns inexorably towards us again
like a combine harvester. All I can attend to
is the cryptic grin of the axolotl
settling among its pebbled substrate
like a blob of watermelon gum
with all the sweetness chewed out of it.

When we have threshed our chaff sufficiently
you describe the other woman. You have become
indisputably feral to me, but do I disrespect you 
like a pigeon or fear you like a seagull?
Those madly avian eyes, blank and greedy.
That scavenger instinct, always taking a bite out of whatever
I am eating, even if it is the very last morsel on my plate
because I have been saving it. I used to enjoy
your minor evils – a barb, a prick, a sting –
an acceptable level of nemesis when I still believed
your selfishness was honesty. You had been the first 
jerk in a chainmail jerkin at the renaissance faire
to observe that my suit of blush-pink armour 
was decorative but not functional. If you punched me in the tit
the generously sculpted breastplate would puncture
my sternum, killing me instantly.

Once you told me two mammals buried in a snow cave
would not consume each other because it is better to die cosy
than alone. How humiliating that I have sought 
to burrow into the flesh below your chest,
a pink fairy armadillo trembling for safety,
the kind of paradoxically precious wild creature 
that cannot even survive in captivity. Is it too much to ask
to be universally adored? Have I not been
a ruby-throated truth to you? I could be as ruinous
as an orchid mantis shimmying, or as toxic
as an almond-scented shocking-pink dragon millipede
dripping cyanide syrup. I have contemplated
chewing off your tongue and replacing it myself
like a parasitic louse in the mouth
of a roseate snapper. But it is best to shed my skin
like a magenta-scaled eyelash viper, and leave it 
folded neatly on your pillow – my fangs much longer now,
your fish tank empty but for its shifting weeds,
the filter groaning and squelching out
beleaguered little kissing noises in the dark.

Mince & cheese

you brake too hard and blammo
I have crushed the half-bitten pie in my hands
deflated pastry relieved of its high-protein load
the flimsy plastic sheath serving no protection
from sticky mess jettisoned hot across cheeks
dripping and forming a savoury crust
that tightens and glistens across my lips
such that you have no choice but to pull over
cursing at the next picnic stop and
lick it in the way you will my wounds


image: Aleyna Rentz