Adrift by featured artist Jamila Clarke

      Dead Skin

      The devil was never in the details.
      He was in your nails, your skin, your hair—
      locks as thick as craft ribbons,
      oil-slicked black diamond waves
      made for gold-plated lockets
      bearing portraits
      of flint-faced lovers.

      We had a Red October once.
      When all our moods were colored
      by jealousy and the walls
      were target practice.

      We fired off the plates
      waiting in the china cabinet
      and I was the bloody ghost
      of Anne Boleyn thirsty
      for Henry’s head.

      Even now I find strands of your hair
      in my bathroom sink hiding
      behind dressers clamped between
      the ragged teeth of wooden drawers,
      reminders of late nights and fast life,
      crackled conversation and lungs
      that burst open like stitched-up gills—
      when the words tasted like metal
      and blood rolling around
      in our mouths. I would bite
      my tongue so I could talk
      with my hands
      that bred dead mementos,
      casted off like fallen soldiers
      in foreign snow that I will mourn
      inside every one of my mornings.


Vanessa Willoughby

Vanessa Willoughby graduated from The New School in 2011. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Nervous Breakdown, The Toast, and xoJane. @book_nerd212.