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Tome On The Range

Two Poems By: Juliet Escoria
Karl Smith , April 27th, 2014 06:03

This week's new writing comes to us for the first time from West Coast USA in the form of two poems by Juliet Escoria, author of the recently-published (and searing enough to cauterise a gaping wound) short story collection Black Cloud

Juliet Escoria is from San Diego, CA. She has an MFA in fiction writing from Brooklyn College, a BA in creative writing from UC Riverside, and has been editing and producing content for Electric Literature’s blog, 'The Outlet', since 2010.

Black Cloud, a collection of stories, videos, and photographs, was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in April 2014.

But do you love me

How many cocktail dresses would you like me to shred
before you snip off my toes to make the slipper fit?

How many licks of sunshine does it take to grow cancer on my face,
and if you were a doctor, would you cut it out yourself,
or would you get a doctor friend to do it for you?
Would you eat it if you knew it would make me feel beautiful?

If I had a rope for a tongue, would you swing from it
and leap from me into the water,
or would you rather wrap it around your neck, kick the chair, and dangle
until you were blue
        and cold
        and dead?
Because either is fine by me.
I don’t care.
I just want you to be the one who makes the decisions.

All I’m asking for is perfection

Everything on you is oily, and everything on you smells bad. The acne is spreading. There is always something that needs covering up. There are always pimples to pop, impurities to expel, and there is only so much the creams can do. The doctor writes you a prescription and forbids you from sunlight. The directions on the tube say APPLY TO AFFECTED AREA but it seems impractical to cover your entire body. Maybe it would be better to eat it. That way you could fix things from the inside.

In the shower, you use the razors that advertise the closest shave. You use special shaving
cream that promises the same thing. Afterward you still feel the hairs under your skin so you
shave over and over and it is still not completely smooth so you do it harder. You know the
hair will begin to grow back immediately anyway. You know it will be spiky again in the
morning. Once you’re out of the shower, your legs are red and raw and some of the follicles
are bleeding. You rub lotion into them and it feels like you’re standing in flames.

Long nails are preferable and so you grow yours out. You apply many different ointments to
help them along. They’re always manicured. The long nails and the polish make your long
fingers look even longer. People comment in a way that sounds complimentary but you’re
not sure; most use words like “graceful” but someone else says “spindly.” At work you watch
them fly over the keyboard. They look venomous and sharp, like spiders. In the morning,
there are scratches on your cheek, three of them, and it is like the devil has been inside your

When you were little, you and your father drove out to the high desert. There were wide
expanses filled with white pointy windmills, incomprehensibly tall and spinning. Your father
said the windmills were good, that this was the cleanest way for us to get power, and he was
a person who knew about such things so you knew it was true. The windmills didn’t look like
good things, though. The blades looked like daggers and in them you saw three versions of
yourself, each stabbed with a windmill blade in the back, spinning around, too high for
anyone to reach, too high to be saved.