Fallout Control


I find pleasure in unraveling
sweaters, stretching taut lines who
otherwise form loops, senseless
instant-noodle loops already drying

cold, slippery in my grip, as
I pull harder, dare some resistance,
something solid—it gives—
if only it frayed enough to


break this tangle in my hair,
it spreads
               spreads to itching
fingertips whose muscles breathe
in faucet-drip patterns,
twitches of nails, wires, papers,
polymers scream stay
                                  stay the
incoming waves as surely they
swallow the silt beneath me—

I pull, I pull, there is nothing


We went rafting every year.
We pitched our tents before nightfall.

The water was shallow but
it took years to sink.

I clutched the plastic oar, hoped
    it was strong enough.
I washed my tongue with words like
    Zoloft, hard candy between molars.
I spot my floating shoe, drifting
    away faster than my mother.


This is no shaving razor; it melts
through latex gloves and strands
of hair fall straight through.

Careful, I pulled out a single
hair, sliced it in half, then
half—a pile of confetti—
another strand—my hands move

to free my head of tangles,
I pull—it gives—I laugh
for when I run out.


Harsh light does not spill out
but constant screech seeps in
between white tiles and

grates on my tired nerves,
pounding skull-drums into grout
through piles of black slivers

it’s been months since he first
split; I clutch the worn thin
coarse cotton towel, twitching
mass of

              bricks—I have seen them
ripped from the earth, pounded—
gravel bones broken, protruding—
burned til they changed color,
paved beneath our feet,
sunken into the earth—

like the photo of my mother and
me in Amsterdam, looking happy,
wearing new clothes. I couldn’t
even tell we were just deported.


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