Dissociation, A Radiance


Independence Day and thunder knocks

the light out of the walls. Shame

comes soggy-bottomed and I swell

into a weapon. Warrior singed, throat flooded

with gin and bleach. I masturbate and meditate. Unshaved,

I litter my body with animal corpses

smothered in cheese. I fell through the attic floor,

split teeth like young corn. July fucked me

and I was ragged for it. I am making myself ready,

doused in oil for the burning.

ii. When I was a child teased

for my name, my mother

said to tell them Slaughter

was a river running Cherokee, the irony

of a family tree whose roots couldn’t be

more Anglican, the name a word meaning

run, a warning against pale faces

like mine, who would snuff them out

with smallpox, then claim stock in their blood.

My family was forged by these kinds

of delicate arsons. When my mother

was a teen her boyfriend drove drunk

and shattered the girl in the passenger’s seat.

And that was the first time I heard the word

manslaughter. And did not think this man

was my almost-father, did not think of my father,

slaughtered onto a living room carpet. And I wonder

which of these stories are mine to tell.


My cat carves a blood moon

into my wrist.

Under a canopy of broken sunshine

I sacrifice my body to Nosferatu

mosquitos. I sleep on carousels

blanketless. I masturbate twice

and forget to meditate.

I am pillaged by the carnal air, smells heavy

like gunpowder, summer camp,

sticky knees and fogged black glass bejeweled

with far-off eye-shine. A rabbit

in the trees, maybe. Or something bigger.

Some terrible glorious afterstorm.

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