From Untitled Chapbook – Katie Longofono and Mary Stone Dockery

We bring you an exclusive extract from a collaborative as-yet-untitled chapbook by the ultra-talented duo Katie Longofono and Mary Stone Dockery.

No Self-Soothing
Katie Longofono

I am always biting through mouthguards,
eating something I shouldn’t,
mapping muscles by painpoints.
I am knot and twitch, a slow shred
like cuticle undone. When I wake it is night
and nobody answers my scream.
A migraine wraps itself around
my neck and jaw. Perhaps
I am silent with my ache.
Perhaps I am sheets and sand
again, a sifting hiss, dunes
that pile when nobody’s looking.
I should strip the bed and lie
like a beach, let heat carry my cry:
know me by my clench and release,
find rocks and dig until I’m tender
but every soft paw scooping sand
scatters and buries another limb.

 

I’m a very dead girl
Mary Stone Dockery

The psychic took an eyelash and told me to lean over a candle, breathe until I might find a harp growing out of me. Pluck and lick the tune off your fingers.

Years later, I used so many pronouns and prepositions a friend would ask to write down my sentences and edit them, publishing what was left.

Why didn’t anyone tell me I could learn something only to barely remember it later as gasoline fumes?

Once, an old man threatened my future with a pointing finger and a broken cigarette – this is how a girl like you dies – and I let him draw my shadow onto the sidewalk until my own feet disappeared, tobacco falling like snow around us.

I don’t know how to speak without talking of connection, without positioning my body. Perhaps I do not exist without the music a neighbor plays late into the night.

The psychic continues to tell me palms change. She squints for effect. Looks for something besides dead leaves in my smile.

This is too abstract, they’ll say. I’m a hip bone or navel drawn into a black sky. And I’ll rise for the day, pick up a button or a flask. Until they melt into my hands.

 

My husband announced he would divorce me if I couldn’t kickstart a motorcycle.
Katie Longofono

He is always asking for chrome, dirt
and steel. I am soft like leather

but it’s never enough, he doesn’t turn on
to tightness like he used to,

lusts after something darker, shinier,
the rough sputter and start

of a woman who knows her way
around an engine.

He says it’s like chocolate, at first
even Hershey’s tastes sweet and simple,

but with time becomes diluted
and powdery.

An adult’s tongue requires something richer:
burn of cayenne, silk of Belgium.

He says it’s like that—I’d better learn
to come to grips with metal,

need to get fast and smooth
or he’s gonna get off.

 

Her big eyes have the warmth of a shark’s,
Katie Longofono

diamond points, but scales wait to flake
beneath your nails. Open up the well,
drop the penny of your voice, a spiral
of copper that never hits bottom.
You listen for the echo, metallic,
but she is all black hole, tunnel,
a perfect stone to get stuck in.

She folds into you with her gray mouth
and her tongue pulls you like a bucket
at the bottom of a long, wet rope.
You are still waiting for something to drop
but she goes on forever, and when you kiss her back
your tongue becomes a rope, too, some Mobius strip
that only dances, never finds a seam or an end.

 

You think her big eyes have the warmth of a shark’s
Mary Stone Dockery

Her words, coated in sea salt, will taste like a sun-baked gill. If you could go there. She says listen not hear me out. She says open not hurry. You imagine coming inside her, waking on a starfish bed. Her pupils dilating right in front of you. She’d avoided the ships, wound her way out of Arial’s fins, to find you. She says sh and puts a drink in front of you. Waits for you to find rocks at the bottom. There is ocean in so many teeth. Her hands, those open sails draped over your collarbone, remind you of wind, of disappearing blue.

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