September 5-12, 2004: Kristy Bowen and Emma Leavey

week of September 5-12, 2004

Kristy Bowen and Emma Leavey

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Kristy Bowen

Bio (auto)

Kristy Bowen’s work has appeared in a number of publications, including Small Spiral Notebook, Stirring, and Poems Niederngasse She is the author of two chapbooks, Bloody Mary and The Archaeologist’s Daughter, and a hypertext collection, lattitudes A two-time Pushcart nominee, Bowen was recently awarded first place in The Poetry Center of Chicago’s 10th Annual Juried Reading Competition A poet and text/collage artist, she has read, performed, and exhibited her work at a number of bookstores, libraries, galleries, bars/cafes, and festivals She lives in Chicago, where she edits the online journal Wicked Alice, and is the founder of Dancing Girl Press, devoted to publishing work by women poets More of her work may be seen at:

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Kristy Bowen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


June still aches in my fillings, 
sieves through my skin like
the scent of bruised
fruit I am a broken spell, 

a fever, the fear
of red In bars, I lean
too close to men
with poor intentions, fall

prey to whiskey’s sinuous hymn
Sometimes the moths,
their given names, 
actias luna, automeris io,

the barbed wire, plums flush
as the lining of a heart, 
are too much, too many
The terrible flowers on my dress, 

tea roses culled in a field
of pale blue, set off a war,
a famine beneath your tongue
You are trying to locate my body

amid the sheets, by taste, by guessing, 
the mattress swollen with rain The syllables shake loose
like droplets from a branch

They are imperfect, riddled with error
The years tear out like pages from a book.


Not red Not exactly More like dawn, 
or the illusion of it, hummingbirds, humidity

azaleas splitting in your palm In Texas, 
the nights are sueded; there is no language

for the soft of your hands The bruises
ripen on my wrists like plums

Nevertheless, I am sly, scarlet-lipped, 
gathering light in the folds

of my dress, crossing my sevens, 
polite and girlish I still dream

of the desert, the woman you once kept
sleeping in the curve of your body

She slices peaches, pulls the hair from her face She is sweetened, and full of rain
Even the coyotes have lost the scent of her.


Her skin wears thin
from all the touching,
this movement of fingers
over her spine,
the pale, pinked
danger of her thighs
Here, night sharpens itself
on rain, and the tattered
arabesque of bodies
against windows

In their houses,
beneath kitchen lights
and desk lamps,
they’re catching, 
those slender wings
Tendon Filament
In the car, she draws
a scarab, a spade, 
a tiny scythe on his back,
imagines lines forming
on lonely roads,
the world
reassembling itself in
violins and matchbooks
And her, she could burn
clean through him.

three a.m
There is still this terrible blueness,
this undressing, straps slipping
against her arm, pale sky opening
Always the residue of sleeplessness,
darkened eyes, the tattered breath She’s a postcard from Jamaica
tucked beneath a novel, 
snow thickening beneath streetlamps
These wants are thin diaries,
impulses, synapses,
scrawled on a forearm
A refrain catches: ditches fill
with women warned by mothers,
their lips caked with mud
And what to make of these arrangements,
the thrust, the afternoon’s calamity
grown exponentially On corners, in barrooms,
the glasses are empty
We are missing incandescence,
water, something
He once told her that our souls
are permeable as cells,

they divide, infinitive.

Blood Moon

Spring, and we hum to
the grammar of currents,
the dilation of minutes
My mouth, the argument This flare
Last summer Firecrackers You burn a circle in the grass, 
a circle in my hand,
and I remember
grade school pigs curled
tight in jars,
the drama of rooms
with wide open windows
You see, this breathing,
ragged, persistent,
is like the beginnings of
dark water seeping
over floors, the starved
contours of us
All through winter,
I sit in the empty
bathtub for hours Not crying The curtain unravels,
slips along its rusted rod
You say I am hardened But last night, late,
I watched the moon slide
over itself like the eye of a cat, 
the scrim of the city
pulled back

I must have told you a hundred times.

Emma Leavey


Emma Leavey is a Londoner currently living in Herzliya, Israel She makes a meager living teaching English and is trying to save money for a trip to Mexico Apart from writing she loves reading, music, films, cooking and eating, growing things and being in nature She has poetry forthcoming in ‘The Rose and Thorn’.

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Emma Leavey and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I start the climb

I start the climb
And come to where the water starts Dry in summer, in early spring
There is a trickle, a ripple
Over sandy stone
On both sides rocky slopes
Reach closer to the sun
To warm their rocky tips,
To absorb life
So that lower down they can give forth
Silver olive, yellow mustard,
Red poppy, white almond
And something a little bit blue, a little bit pink
That thrives quietly under the trees
The air is herb-sweet, hill-fresh The breeze brings from the summit
The echo of bells
And I imagine that some deity of desire,
Some pagan god,
Lives on here,
Herding his flock on the sides of the hills
Feeding on nuts and olives,
And crushing yellow flowers between his teeth
He is alone with his flock and the hills
And a feeling that once he was needed He strokes his grey beard
And fingers the mouldering flute
That hangs from a leather strap
Rising, footsore, he beckons his flock
And as he turns I pick up his scent on the downdraught
And am dizzy with desire

But when I look back he is gone
And I am left standing in the shade of an olive,
Sounding the breeze
For primordial notes
And straining my nose to catch
The pungent reek of goat.

The Insect Book

The book disappeared
across the room Did I put it there,
on that round table?
Or did it walk,
pages like insect legs They make a prickly sound
but on carpet they are muffled.


It’s hard to know
whether you like someone or not
when you don’t know them You say things like,
“If I see him now, we are meant for each other” And then you do But it makes you uncertain
as to whether or not he knows who you are And if he stands in the queue behind you,
does it mean he loves you?
He sings all the time,
and moves his lips down darkened hallways And did that smile mean he loves you?
Or was it for someone else,
or just himself.


Set in diamond pins
that acupuncture my back
are small fairy-lights
Humming all the time,
sensitive to the signals
from my skin and soul
What are they doing?
Such delicate instruments
in my flesh body?

In voodoo moments,
when the circuit is complete,
they know and show me
It’s that swift movement
passing over my shoulders
and the lights come on.

Mango Stone

Composing a soup,
a sing-song of mango, coconut milk and spices,
the mango may be
a little green
and sharp, and hard to cut You may not be a virtuoso
at cutting up mangos Use a sawing motion Slice with a sharp knife through the flesh,
letting the blade scrape the stone
so as not to waste any When you have a piece,
hold it
in the palm of your hand It fits perfectly Its skin is smooth and cool against yours
Take your knife
and score a cut
around the outer edge
where the skin seals in
the flesh’s orange aria Then, criss-cross cuts
turn it inside out &Mac246;
the little cubes pop out at you
and you can lop them off,
plop! into the kettle
to fry with fresh green chili
The stone, now, is not bare like bone
but damp and slippery
with mush of threads
It would be a shame to waste them
Take the stone in both hands
and bite and suck The strings will catch in your teeth,
a sticky ring revolves around your mouth Bite the stone and feel the sharp twang
then slide your lips, in a rush, from tip to tip,
(arpeggios of sourness, scales of juice)
and hope that no-one will come into the kitchen right now
to find you
playing on a mango stone
like a harmonica.

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