You firestar. Pool of moonburst.
You turned my skin to dust. Rawblade glasstooth girl.
With your hot rage and bus ticket anywhere.
Never saw a woman run so many directions at once.
One night, you shined so bright the police came to watch.
Your bruises and shirt-shreds. How we all just stood there,
watching you shimmer. Afraid to flinch, for a faceful of claw.
You are some kind of firework. Flipswitch blues.
Broken Sundays spent towing the boulders out of you.
The Brooklyn 3am’s, frenzied as an upturned autobahn.
Your porchlamp laughter. The clack and sweep and throb.
The buttered slick of you. Your sweat-bead banshee pitch.
Mother warned me. Said your sugar was a ruse. Bait.
(As if madness is calculated.) I am the cruelest kind of lover.
A coward. Afraid of the thing most dazzling.
I wished the bleak into my own blood. Prayed a flock of rotten notes.
Some afternoons, I wander through your photographs. Letters.
Wonder if the river won your war.



Originally published at Anti- and appears in Verlee’s second book, Said the Manic to the Muse.

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JEANANN VERLEE is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellow and the author of three books: prey, finalist for the Benjamin Saltman Award (Black Lawrence, 2018); Said the Manic to the Muse (Write Bloody, 2015); and Racing Hummingbirds, silver medal winner in the Independent Publisher Awards (Write Bloody, 2010). She is a recipient of the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize. Her poems and essays appear in a number of journals, including Adroit, BOAAT, BuzzFeed, VIDA, and Muzzle. She has served as poetry editor for Winter Tangerine Review and Union Station, among others, and as copy editor for multiple individual collections. Verlee performs and facilitates workshops at schools, theatres, libraries, bookstores, and dive bars across North America. She collects tattoos, kisses Rottweilers, and believes in you. Find her at

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