by Lauren Sartor
I’m a skinned newborn. My flesh
is stencil for neon bar signs.
Every time I enter, the wind comes
at me like razors and my skin slices
clean from the muscle.
Before I have a drink, before the bartender
says, “Coors Light?”, seconds before I sit,
when the stool scrapes the floor,
I am completely unraveled.
My raw shoulders contract
protectively over a glass
that is always half-empty.
Behind my bloody back is the worn path
from doorknob to barstool.
It’s tapestried with cuts of pink skin
in different shades of decay.
Everyone who enters
is witness to the carnage.
They step on it.
They print their soles,
They add another layer.
Some pieces of skin are just slivers,
sized like the tension between
thumb and forefinger.
Some are large, like a bag made
entirely of baby skin,
so intact you’d wonder
where the knife went.
Windex and Vodka
Morning breaks like a rotted egg on my face,
The rays point to a drink on my nightstand.
In the bathroom I was disdain from my face.
In the kitchen I beat eggs, shred cheese, chop
tomatoes. Set them all to fry.
My therapist’s voice resounds the part of my brain
not yet necrotic, “We’d just be going around in circles.”
This morning is synaptic with night. The comfort
is in the lack of witnesses, the knowing that no one knows.
I eat a piece of cheese on the floor without wiping it
on my shirt first. I scrub the drying seeds from the knife.
I sit down with a full plate and open yesterday’s paper
a man has driven his car into a canal, tomorrow
the election polls will open.
Lauren Sartor is a Ph.D. at SUNY Binghamton. She has been a college instructor in Saudi Arabia, a cab driver in Arizona, and a carnival worker across states. She is currently working on her first poetry book.