how terrible to say nothing
like an old woman undressing
—james l. white.
instruction: first remove the bows,
the brooches, and gold pins.
all that gleaming ornamentation
that tells others this body
is still full of life.
interior: to be just canvas again
skin impersonating a wrinkled suit.
girl you’re meat in a butcher’s window
girl you’ve got sneakers hanging across your tongue
instruction: next the cloth
the zippers and buttons
unlocking in your hands
watch these fall to the floor
a head writhing with snakes.
interior: to be just skin again
adorned in an orphanage of scars
girl you smell like a tea kettle moaning
girl let me hyphenate your birth name
instruction: the wig is the last to go.
a hooked finger fit between scalp and sweat
freeing the skull like a birdhouse under
the weight of a polished steel shovel.
interior: my bruises grow like ripe tomatoes
my shoes reveal a bed of dancing worms
it is always high noon in my bedroom
faced off before the mirror
the man looks nothing like me.
in my eyes i am a wrinkled old thing.
pistols naked at our waists
the clock strikes like a match
he aims at my neck.
girl i came here to paint your walls red
and you look best dressed in silence.