Monday, September 1, 2008

Rachel Custer

After The Madwoman In The Attic

Ever since feminists
made madness phallocentric,
Roz feels guilty
about her psychotic breaks.
It’s not that she doesn’t want
to join hands with her sisters
against the patriarchy. It’s just
she can’t stop listening
to the grass. The rub
of blade on fresh-cut blade,
like knives being sharpened
on steel, scrapes inside
her ears. His name
repeating: Cesar Israel.
Grass speaks the language
of original sin, a split-tongued,
lying hiss. She breaks
as always, along the same lines,
a priceless vase,
once glued.

Lessons From Zombie Movies

As soon as the thirst of the first undead
for the blood of the living begins,
money becomes worthless. One cannot bribe
a zombie. The first thing to do
when the world goes apocalyptic on you
is arm yourself with a crossbow. Never
go anywhere quiet alone. There will be
a small band of survivors with at least one
Navy Seal. You must make sure he has turned
against the government he once served
because it is always, somehow,
the government’s fault. Alaska will be
the only possible refuge. People who are
dead are not smart, or even fast,
but they are persistent. They will lurch
along behind you, slow as decomposition,
but don’t be fooled: they are oddly
effective at catching you though
you may run and run. You must blow
off their heads, which apparently
kills them even though they are undead.
Finally, you will realize that
you have been running flat out for
two and a half hours, and that your fat,
whopper-eating, American ass
would have been bitten before
you ever got up from in front
of your television.

Smelling Smoke

All the long night I woke
to choke again on the taste of you,

your bitterness stuck
like a pill in the back of my throat. You

settle like fine gray ash
in every pore and crease of me

until I struggle to breathe
in the cloying black. I

keep seeing the kitchen
of my childhood home

the day we went back after it burned.
Rain had mixed the dark dust

into a thick sludge, a paste
through which we plodded,

Movement changes somehow

in memory and nightmare, slows
to an exaggerated trudge.

You still move inside me,
gut me like a fire

tearing through
a tinder-dry farmhouse.


It is language soaked sterile,
the rusty cutting away of words
like offending labial flesh. A way
to talk without wincing
about what is -

five generations
of Nigerian mothers
holding a thrashing girl-
child, slicing her


into womanhood,

because it sounds better
than hundreds of years
of mothers cutting
daughters growing
into mothers

because they first were
held, first were cut. We prefer
clitorodectomy, a word
wrung free of blood
so we can speak

without tasting blood
on our lips.


A bouquet of starthistle
forces golden shocks of thorn

up through a cracked
floor plank

On the windowsill
a cardinal, faded

almost to pink,
rots slowly to bone

and nothingness.
The clock on the wall

measures time in years,
the long hand stopped

at half past eight.
Over the stone mantel,

crumbling to dust, four
faces hang, peeled

from the bloated heads
of memory.

This room does not exist
outside her mind. Still,

she cannot stop
living here.

-all poems taken from her blog, The Confessional


Anonymous said...

Take these down, asshole. I never submitted them for your "magazine."


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