1. “Bestiary” by Sam Sax
there are many words for transformation / metamorphosis
metaphor / medication / go to sleep / beside the man you love
& wake up next to a dog / maybe the moon brought if out of him
hound hungry for blood / maybe it’s your fault / or maybe
it was there inside him / howling all along”
2. “The House” by Warsan Shire
“I treat them well enough, a slice of bread, if they’re lucky a piece of fruit. Except for Johnny with the blue eyes, who picked my locks and crawled in. Silly boy, chained to the basement of my fears, I play music to drown him out.”
—found in The Wide Shore.
3. “Good Girl” by Jeanann Verlee
“(So I keep my hands inside my hands.) (So the city won’t rattle.) (So I don’t weep on the bus.) (So I don’t wander the guardrail.) (So the flashbacks go quiet.) (So the insomnia sleeps.) (So I don’t jump at car horns.) (So I don’t jump at cat-calls.) (So I don’t jump a bridge.) (So I don’t twitch.) (So I don’t riot.) (So I don’t slit a strange man’s throat.)”
4. “Limbs” by Khary Jackson
“I chose you, boy, to remember how they love makin’ a devil out of these trees, makin’ ’em wear a dead man from the limbs like jewelry, a burlap sack of flesh tore up. We was a backwoods Friday night, twistin’ and danglin’ for the crowd. We was more than murder, we was theater.”
—recorded by Button Poetry.
5. “Widow” by Sylvia Plath
“Widow. The bitter spider sits
And sits in the center of her loveless spokes.
Death is the dress she wears, her hat and collar.
The moth-face of her husband, moonwhite and ill,
Circles her like a prey she’d love to kill…”
—found in The Collect Poems.
6. “Self-Portrait as Jeffrey Dahmer” by Ocean Vuong
“As I lie on top, my tongue
resting on your chest—
the steady metronome
blooming beneath it, I can’t help the urge
to pry you open, plunge through
the artifice of beauty.”
—found in Vinyl.
7. Michael Gira – “Game”
“You shouldn’t touch me
My skin peels off my bones
I’ll give you a gift
Take the skin from my stomach and stretch it across your face
Look in the mirror
I see myself through your eyes
My body is on the ground behind you
You use it to amuse yourself
When you kick it around the room you feel the impact of the boot in your stomach
Cry for me
Blame me for the fact you no longer recognize yourself.”