Literary Orphans

“seashells,” “that summer, ” and “always in love” by Tanya Rakh




And when the words have no more time, time hardens as a crystal. Numb my eyes I twist live sidewalks past ceramic dawn. Past the cemeteries of all our dead lovers; they just brood and smoke cigars now, cast dirty snow by dumpster blaze.


Warm your hands and sit with me, my head is full of stars and night went cold already. Meet me over a single candle, please ignore the drip in my sad rooftops, all my tin silverware clatters with passing trains. Look at me and we can swallow. These muscles can unravel here.


Maybe through the fear. Maybe through red curtains. Maybe past eleven dogs down this gray alley, littered clean with plastic legs. Don’t tell me about fear now, I know one side at least — lifelong and throbbing, hollow seashells of euphoria.


Don’t tell me about seashells, don’t tell me about grief. Don’t tell me about parchment lining old mouths in my home country. Don’t tell me about the dancing girls again, I listened to the songs but now I’m hungry. Always hungry. Worms and dogs.


Worms and dogs and blinding highways. The day the words had no more time. Just a minute, cemeteries. All the open love a living sore.


Lie with me a cavern glow. An arm, at least, a hole to swim through. Paint with me a doorway, a gash in monotone night. I always fall asleep here. Somewhere here. A doorway and a wild rose. Some wilted signatures. One shadow. Our cryogenic, humming sky.


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that summer


She grows much older that summer. All amber and chlorophyll, she peels from her roots, lets her branches furl across forest in veins and rivers. Finds tesseract and pearl tooth hiding among willows, amphibious stars crackle for the choke point.


In summer she evaporates, multiplies in prism, a gallery of refractions. She gazes into train lights and refuses. I’m tired, she tells them, spills out a dusty road instead, swaps her feet for years of windstorms. They say she lives here still, always howling. Until the day no one remembers, she echoes nightingale beneath your trees.


Dim memory lights and fissures in our boneyards. All oceans filled with swollen death, the mermaids left for orchid water long ago.


Before the sun there was a poem here, verses sunk in soapstone, etched in gold. Each syllable a cut in time. Now the timeworn lines have found a doorway, loosened their ankle ties, but incantations fade and calcify with parallels, an undead choral prophecy.


It always ends this way—the heavy dragon eats its tail in mired calculations. Always the sun rolling down the same mountain, that same weightless mountain where time and love move together but refuse to make eye contact, sleep rigid on opposite sides of the bed, the sheets soaked in pleading. The same nightmare cycles again.


Each razor story, every gray, splintered home. Each tall rooftop bent by this deafening momentum, this entropy dance of meat clinging to skeleton, these endless days of wheat and water.


All of this, alive in tapestry. Hungry for bones and hearts and holes through inertia. She grows much older that summer. Eats from fruit trees and falls asleep a stream. An ocean someday, a sun cascading down mountains. The moon rises here in whispers still; bright stars spin awake behind the haze.


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always in love


always my love, an invasive species

I am always in love

always in love, a crimson candle

the skinned girl skinned knees,

looking down


burgundy stain on satin landscape

silver minutes stretching by

vines crawl up, open the cruel door

nature takes back her memories

swallows the blood again


you come to me a single flicker

light within my darkened bruises

a kaleidoscope, you tell me

primary colors flash your eyes and I am


clinging to ether,

against dark branches


in the fires, love, we always find this

ten million locks of hair,

all our war-torn cemeteries

water through our mired scar tissue

yes this, the melting point

the promise,

our bruises spreading into stars


always in love, the final arrow,

a black lung breathing out the time


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Tanya Rakh is a poet, author, occasional visual artist, and professional manuscript editor residing in Madison, Wisconsin. Her writing appears in journals including Danse Macabre, Yes, Poetry, The Smoking Typewriter, and Miletus International Literature Journal and is published in several print and e-book editions of Alien Buddha Zine, including The Alien Buddha’s Feminist Agenda (2019). Her first poetry collection, Hydrogen Sofi, is available now from Hammer & Anvil Books.

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