Jesse Rice-Evans


The rheumatologist sizes me up, presses her soft hands into my wound nest of a body, nothing unfurling under her hands like it’s supposed to. My cane looming lilac, my fifth appendage I sprouted from a dream and allowed to fang into an organ, tumorous and in bloom against concrete, shuffling stairwells, flights and stationary things, a stability I forgot. 

They draw a dozen vials of my warm indigo blood, streaking crimson against curved glass jutting from the nurse’s blue-gloved fists, my platelets weapons. 

Everybody needs me but no one will keep me. 

All the tests come back inconclusive : this doesn't make me a mystery, just a stubborn femme, uncooperative flesh spilling into public space, an occupation. 

Piss ripples down my palms, I pinch the specimen container, hoist my tote, palm my cane, slip down eggshell-lacquered hall, turn over my bodyliquid, they will run a test and tell me why my hands seize and curl, why pain trickles down from my skull like a rain shower. Stress hormones likely plentiful, obese and without distress.


Buck Moon

My face erupts, hideous bloom, long shoals of pock, thighs barely held together by black denim, bursting along veins. I could use you for many things: flotation device, validation. Prop you against the wall while I rub myself clean on your sleeve. 

If I were another kind of quill, you would be the first to know, your arms drooping with bags, face falling, head bowed under something heavy. I am poor in homemade croptop, cigarette-burned bookstore tote bag, selling my mouth and arms for books, train rides. 

I dreamed I was drowning, body lashed around my ankle, dragging across kitchen floor, smearing puddles of grime, flecks of plastic wrapper and toast crumb clinging to leg. When am I going to decide I have had enough, that I am overflowing? You are a mess of an animal, darting from the light, snarling, making lists to bring up in the trickle of first light. 

I keep wanting more, never content with simple: hands in jeans, flickering. 

I coax you out with silence, hand extended, palm down, defenses lowered, knowing any sound could provoke bristle. If I bury my face in your hair, when I emerge, you will have loosened, pupils smoothed, hackles down, no longer quivering for escape, moonlit. 

When I look again, only edges.

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return to issue 5: August 2017