November Betrays All Jiltings

winter’s breathless vellum
won’t blanket summer’s jilting
birds hoard grief in frozen nebs
and turtles burrow larruped shells
beneath the marsh’s tangle

faint rattling in the kitchen
soiled, battered suitcase / emptied
of hope / useless
unworn underwear rolled in drawer
striped date jacket / cleaned
tagged / bagged
in back of my car / toss or carry
my companion sleeve / I pretend it’s not there
it rides along with me / stupid as roadkill
vacuumed plastic
passes / null through the screen

stench of sweat / sleepless nights
moon breaches its illumination
farrago of beer cans
heaped dirty dishes
your crinkled immigration letter
half-folded / half-used / three months sitting

me / a dear friend mentioned
as the astrologer said
former, current, or potential partner
complications / karmic debt paid
unseen mechanics / fatal finales / snipers

your kikoy twice-folded on my dresser
red stripes and analogous oranges
once vibrant, enwreathed
around your gyrating hips
your sacral witch siren
still humming death in my skull
hematite clumps and chunks of obsidian
can’t suck up the body’s grief
desire spirals leaf-like down
the hissing well

they say this winter will be hard
it snowed today on the 9th of November
twin lavender abandoned in Narborough
our memory-bodies reincarnated
in fire rings / after the pyre

I hardly care / you are ash
resting on a meranti shelf
returned to your birth-broken land
of sand and shocks and tears

what will they do with you?
release you to your sea?
people’s lives stretch on
they have their tethers
their mattering things

conversions / piano an altar
to vacancies
keys covered / elephant ivory
snuffed / poached / resurrected in song
snarled arrays / photos / ghost tributes
how pneuma hinges her past

trap snapped / mouse ran off
he will return
they all do / winter’s ghosts

you gaze from my birthday card
last year’s photo / joyful / surprised
with kinks springing around
your head—a black ecstatic halo
is it me you see / or someone else?
your eyes reel through seasons

Koss, a queer writer and artist, has been published in The Cincinnati Review, Hobart, Spillway, Spoon River Poetry Review (forthcoming), Exquisite Corpse, and many other journals. She also has work forthcoming in Best Small Fictions 2020 and her book, One for Sorrow, published by Negative Capability Press, is due out in early 2021. Find her on Twitter  (@Koss51209969), Instagram (@koss_singular), or her website at

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