Soft p(s)alms

Graphic by Haewon Ma

I am the blunt

The soft plague

I am

The tiny scar

Under your right eye

The little pimples on your buttocks


I am the girl carrying

Five wishbones in each pocket


But only in solitude

The rosary gathering dust

On your bedside table

Water stained glasses


Wilted flowers

Crushed cigarettes


The sullen bruja

Smelling of sweet almond oil

The black, black girl

Dripping of clover honey

And rose water

The salt on your upper lip girl

The taste you’ll never forget girl

Soft and dangerous

Like cinnamon

Like the words you were

Meant to say but can’t


I am the non-potable water

The split lip oozed shut girl

The stings like soil and I love it girl

The broken nail and waxy cheek

I am the manic

The somber

I am the ache beneath the surface

The “fix me doctor” trapped

Behind your tonsils

The last bit of sage

You are trying to burn

Without hurting yourself


The flavor at the roof of your mouth

Tragic, deliberate

The rhythmic sermons

The come-to-Jesus

The soft heavy moans

When you’ve forgotten all your love girl



‘I might leave mi chulita for you’

If only for the duration of this movie


I of forgetfulness

Of apologies ill-timed and shattered

The glass stuck in your ankle girl

The broken nose and broken once more

The ‘we have a lot to talk about’ girl



Of smothered emotions

And long-term self hatred

Bursting like rotting honeysuckle

Sweet and horrendous



Of lovely and blood and anguish

And awfulness

Of strands of gray hair in one hand

And baby teeth in the other



The delirious laughter

The coffee stain above

Your two front teeth girl

The monumental joy

You feel so guilty for possessing


The one more picture

One more kiss

One more cut

The get drunk in the park and

Whisper poems about reparations

The pour out all your problems

Into my bosom yes, yes you can


I am the girl with the pink toenails

The lipstick stain on your Adam’s apple

The careful bruises on your neck

The ‘that’s my girl’

The leave the lights heavy

I wanna see what it looks like

The damp, ghost palms you still


Rubbing against your belly

The sensitive climax

The pleasure that lasts

In staccato

The crowded panic that ensues after



Look the devil in the mouth girl

Find time to

Devour your sadness girl

The two miscarriages

The incarcerated death

The cigarette burn pathways up

Stretch marked thighs

The swollen tongue

The dried crust of tears long forgotten

The suicidal tendencies

The romantic so sick, sick of love

The bleeding fingertips

Haunted and fragile



The please don’t go

The hollow hum

Of your own pain

The reflection you wish you could see

But never can


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