Everyone has a wife prettier than mine. I hide her face in plastic jars
marked "No More Hope," snatch her words in a rainy day season, keep
them under a pillow of yellow stains, deep creases. Unexplained
impressions of butterfly wings. Even after 1000 face lifts, she is still
as ugly as I. We live by the fallacy that someday we might be
beautiful, simple and mysterious as floating candles. We'd be homemade,
truly original. I tell my wife never to trust sexy strangers posing as
plastic surgeons. They will rob her blind, sell her parts to everyday
cannibals, who melt before their own mirrors. I tell my wife that we are
the sum of others' useless parts. Or that when we get old, nothing will
matter anyway. She says that we are two battered alarm clocks with
missing numbers. I imagine her weeping gently as she sells herself to a
man with malleable features, a life of scoured pots and pans. Because we
are so ugly, we forgive each other's sins. At night, we pull off our
yesterday faces, fall hopelessly in love with the other who always
wanted to be more than thin skin, misplaced appetite, the deadened
reflection at a bus stop. We became beggars by water-colored noon. In
the morning light, we greet our surgeons with a naked smile, a deceptive
Five or Six Reasons for Believing in Vampires
After three consecutive nights of insomnia, you hear rumors that your shadow is giving dance lessons in another part of town.
Or after a dream of abandoned turtles, you find scales under the sheets.
Your girlfriend of three weeks, Emily B. Roth, tells you that she was
impregnated by one of your starched shirts. She schedules an abortion
with a tailor.
At work, someone is signing your petitions for better ergonomic chairs
and keyboards with blood. You keep receiving inter-office emails that
you are not who you think you are.
You are accused of shoplifting Gummi Bears by a little kid who is wearing your I.D. badge.
I am the tree near the church. Perhaps a red maple or a honeylocust.
You are the girl who falls through stained glass, who keeps dreaming of
me. In my hollow belly, I shelter you from the beggars, the women who
demand a slow drip of blood for every sin, from the altar boys who peek
under your Sunday dress. Your mother says truth is like honey. You give
her the sap from a condemned birch. She gives you yellow ribbons &
post-its that say Love Is Not Cheap. It Does Not Come in Plastic.
Hanging off my branches, you believe you will heal, grow taller. Perhaps
your roots will expand to everywhere. This town is full of stunted
naysayers who could never grow fruit. You promise to transplant me
inside your head, to bury your secrets near a stump. In the wind &
rain, we lean toward each other.. One day, a man invents an ax. He
becomes an extension of it. He is jealous of what he can never have. You
have given yourself to a tree. The man cuts us down. He's the one who
really dies. We grow new arms & new roots. We become entwined. My
thickest twig is a tongue of your silence. I am a tree with your face.
No longer with crutches, a girl who looks like you walks toward us.
Kyle Hemmings is the author of several chapbooks of poetry and prose:
Avenue C, Cat People, and Anime Junkie (Scars Publications), and Tokyo
Girls in Science Fiction (NAP). His latest e-books are You Never Die in
Wholes from Good Story Press and The Truth about Onions from Good
Samaritan. His latest collection of prose/poetry is Void & Sky from
Outskirt Press. Kyle loves cats, dogs, and 60s garage bands. <email@example.com>