boy, muscle deliberate / sketches a body with eyes first / purpose precise as a prescription / a sliced birch tree / multitasking through the shredder / no emotion / no insecurity / he loops the black rope around and around her shoulder blades / her scapulae / the top of her rib cage / breath and focus and forward / no / no questions / no what if she this / or I don’t know if that / invigorating loop, tie, swoop, knot / again shows / makes / undone / repeat when he feels like it /

girl, a shivering bird cat / white skin in the alcove / not wanting need / her torso is the rope is present / like a shock blanket / he does not know he created this need in her / he works in a lab / always this need to fill / but with what / it’s this, no / it’s breath / no / calm waters / a rage song / fury energy explodes / rises to what / never wanting to undo / it’s this unbalance in the ocean / that keeps her moving forward / but stops her breath /

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Your Best Asset is a White Lace Dress (Yellow Chair Press, 2016), The Messenger is Already Dead (Stalking Horse Press, March 2017) and We’re Going to Need a Higher Fence, tied for first place in the 2017 Lit Fest Book Competition. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She is also the author of nine chapbooks. Her chapbook She Came Out From Under the Bed (Poems Inspired by the Films of Guillermo del Toro) recently came out from Dancing Girl Press. Recent work can be seen in or is forthcoming from Prelude, Kestrel, Yalobusha Review, decomp, and Inter|rupture. Visit: https://jennifermacbainstephens.wordpress.com.

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