6.09 / August 2011

Two Poems

Looking at

the picture he sent me of his cock, I send him his cock back..
Now he has two imprints of his fingers wrapping

himself in light in a lit box in his pocket. Dear Grandmother, here where we are
it is hard to lose things. What I mean is: he gave me this picture of a part of his body

but instead of giving it up, now we both have it. There are three copies
when I text it to him now. No matter how many times you open a photo like this,

you’re at least static-electricity shocked when it appears after buffering. I had to stare
for an additional 20 minutes because, normally, my eyes skip like flat stones looking for

somewhere to sink, and rest. It’s like stumbling over a hilt from the civil war
in an English garden, or mast along the supposed edge of the earth. An erection

always means danger, even if the threat is silk in the distance, like the rumor
of smoke in the woods in a storm. In the pic., his fingers grip the back of an animal,

tensing for rain. I write in metaphors not because I can’t just talk about dick
but because my body has feelings and the art of those feelings is wet graffiti.

Does shame always shadow after sex or is shame itself what’s erotic?
All of this is all of that at once. I don’t throw away anything in my mind either.

When I asked how he liked getting that picture of himself back he said he liked
to think about me looking at it. Something makes my lips goes dry and I remember

that my mouth is there, that my tongue can silver.


I’m sitting here listening to music, about to call this guy but the parking lot’s blue-
white, in the dark, and my nightgown is too short

but I think I’ll leave the blinds open, because I’m mad I’m expected to stand up
to change how I am in here because outside there might be eyes.

I know what this sounds like: “what are you wearing?” but it’s actually a thing
you need to know sometimes on the phone, just like: “where are you calling from?”

“what’s the weather like?” what room? sitting up? lying down?
I can say “a nightgown,” or overalls, or fallen deep into the sheets,

bare. Lately, my son rips into a weep the moment objects don’t go
his right: action figure on fire-escape, yogurt on his shoe-laces, as if yogurt

were an old-fashioned iron made from iron, from the fire to his foot, but,
believe me, I don’t have any idea what I’m doing wrong.

It’s been snowing for weeks, and the things that snow does? Let me tell you:
it’s not the way they show it on TV. All feels right when it’s falling but

when I try to piece my life together, intellectually, I feel lost. I’ve been trying
this new thing. I still feel, but then try to decide what I want and focus every word

on that, instead of free fall, kaleidoscope soup. It’s just snow, the dark,
and the music. This Wu-Tang song says that

The earth is already in space. No “under,” under earth, no left of north,
since without walls there’s no middle of the room, so you don’t need

a ship, just some rapper, some snow, just he glow of a phone in the winter dark,
a streetlight oiling the beach of your breasts.

I can decide someone I want to love me is best as a good friend but if the physics
of my brain match metaphysics, then wanting

to keep kissing him isn’t sub-, anything to my use of the exclamation “dude!” and my
admiration of any woman he’s into.

The phone is lying in my hand like a Petoskey stone. See, the scape of those stones
is the milky-way eating-out velvet. I don’t want some dude in here

telling me to lower the blinds, and my words about nightgowns might bring that on.
But I’m 3-2-1 dialing. When he asks where I’m calling from, I’ll say: “space.”

Julia Clare Tillinghast’s favorite flower is the tulip; car, the Chevy Chevette; mascot, the Hokie, and her favorite food is yogurt, which comes from the Turkish yo?urt. She hails from Tree City (Ann Arbor), Michigan, by way of Istanbul, Turkey, where she lived long enough lose her heart to that city forever, and now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, with her son Hamza. She is co-translator, with Richard Tillinghast, of Dirty August: Poems of Edip Cansever (Talisman House, 2009). Her translations and poems have appeared in Agni, Crazyhorse, Guernica, Passages North and Sou-Wester. She is Managing Editor of Toad: The Journal.
6.09 / August 2011