To Be Sitting Right Next to Someone, to Love Them, But Not Know Them at All

We sit against extinguished emotion—
feeling a relative term—void of heart—a punch,
a last word reminiscent of the past,

naked, vulnerable, yet invincible,
riding the world
on a mechanical bull, backs tall—

our highest, brightest selves tossed perpetually
backwards, spines alive—wingless
& questionable—dreaming

of hearses, ghosts of long gone possibilities,
regret, the warm, full belly of laughter
reminding us of when we were ripe,

the prettiest fruit on the tree, knowing
what’s missing inside us is more careless,
though nothing may ever come

of a new face, skin wasted on the strength
of a backhand, the heart
replaced with vicious things, fierce thrusting

escaping & showing how things feel pain
as they do, wounds swelling red to black,
the shock & tremble leaning closer,

boiling inside our bodies,
taking each moment for how it’s done,
already knowing despite recognizing

the impulse, the urge to reach
the furthest edge west of west, press
up close to hear the beauty

surging in then the sweeping
new & desolate that enters again,
the weight of bone heavy inside our palms.

Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley where she is a wife and mother of two. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while, sleeps. She is the author of three collections, including Wayward Lines (RAW ArT PRESS, 2015), the chapbooks Forgetting Aesop (Bandini Books, 2011), Naked Animal (Flutter Press, 2012), My Father Had a Daughter (Alabaster Leaves Publishing, 2013), Hatched from Bone (Flutter Press, 2014), On Coming of Age and Stitches (Origami Poems Project, 2014), On This and That (Bitterzoet Press, 2015), Strangest Sea (Porkbelly Press, 2015), Beautiful Wreckage (Flutter Press, 2015), Unsent (Origami Poems Project, 2015), The Peace of Wild Things (Porkbelly Press, 2015), Knee Deep in Bone (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2015), Birds Never Sing in Caves (Dancing Girl Press, 2016), Even the Statue Weeps (Sylph Press, 2017), and Cutting Eyes from Ghosts (Blood Pudding Press, 2017). She is the founder of ELJ Editions, a small press with big things to offer, home of Emerge Literary Journal, scissors & spackle, Amethyst Arsenic, and other fine journals.

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