“Me & My Skin’s Smoldering”
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
POETRY: Three by Randall James Tyrone
This is a body: Hollowing Points
There are rules you learn in taking a charge:
ankles’ roots planted,
forcing your turnover, scrap if you’re losing,
get the fade
if you can’t get the W. I got a jumper;
off a heel, turn a two to a three,
shot into a clouding drone sky with hope falling short.
“Brick!” He and his car know
the importance of being loud. Who are you
to love me in a swish? Walking over,
“Fucc up bench warmer” &who are you
for me to be a “Fuck boy!” in a miss.
Taking L’s has taught me torture —
“On Blood, you dead” —
then how to feel.
pulling, from under the passenger seat.
I can’t react. I’ll die, fuck it,
or my brother, fuck,
or those witnesses, waiting in sight.
There’s a bang
we know. An empty police car
is down the street; a hologram’s prying
does not help me.
My brother, already gone
for his duffle bag, has taught me how
a pistol can split your face
with that niggas blood ricocheting
off that bullet
& his sprinkles needle my pores,
my palm. I feel it before I can describe it;
cranberry custard mess. All I see
is bleeding. Why is my right lid too sticky
to open? My eye twitching, adhered;
I try washing the pomegranate out.
I occupy hours trying, splashing
saline city sanitation tap water
until the hot couldn’t maintain.
I tried weeping. My eye twitches
like a body flailing, throwing tantrum,
desperate to convince breath to stay in,
twitching like an eye lash that can’t be
blinked out, from the past.
All I see is bleeding. Why?
I should know. Why? Big brother,
feature-less, “I love you.” —
Nails as claws; scratch out —
“I had to erase ‘em.” I can’t un-see him. —
timed memories, darker & harder; —
“be or be done.” I leak blood. —
a pencil without eraser is not a pen; —
“Forget it, it never happened.” —
fix your nature, —
What I saw. “Never happened.” —
you can’t erase,
only blight out.
This is A Spirit Melting Its Container: The Last Degree
The mattress is on fire.
No forgotten cigarette to blame;
only me & my skin’s
smoldering. My eyes are replaced
with the image of Vi & she’s missing
the top enclosure of a skull.
When anything’s collapsed far enough
it gets hard to tell what’s breaking in or out.
Brain matter is painted light,
the coroner writes passages
& none of that answers my question
in a way I understand. The wall’s
deconstructing like it was built to do so.
The fever’s cured me;
no longer drowning
in mucus vapors. I can’t find
the toilet’s water mouth.
I’m throwing up the yellow vomit
& it’s scalding my molars.
If I reach out I’ll melt
that flush knob. If there is a river,
I’ll be sunk by my fat anchoring sins.
The me: pierced by the bullet through her
hardening into harpoons
sloshing between the liquefying ribs,
skin receding back in pores. I am
leaking pus like flowing milk
from a cracking pot promised to me
in this land. No, it is loose calcium
& I see it falling out of me
like leaves looking down at their tapped tree
& I’ll see it fevered, flashing out
my holes like a light house.
black flames take the body;
the light remains,
the light is all that remains.
That Was A Ghost Wearing A Dead Guy: If you’re just walking in and see the window, it’s hard to tell if that’s opportunity climbing in or out
The door behind us never opens. We occupy
a chair. The room feels like paint chips
cracking at the back of our throat.
The roof like a Coffin lid with hang nails
perching like bats from a ceiling,
try to scratch your way out, dripping mauve
acrylic. A ritual’s monster passes us to hang
behind the desk. I don’t know
what I’m interviewing for,
I don’t care what you have me do, I need a job.
I don’t know — “You must know
me. Who I am?” I don’t.
“I am the gallant mountain,
swallowing callous people.
Tighten the ropes,
it will only make sense after you fall.
Flamboyant heavy hand Hari Kari —
You aren’t married?”
What? “Why haven’t you married her?”
She has…for a while we’ve —
“Go home, do that”. That won’t help.
“Doesn’t matter, do it. Does she know?”
About the job? “No,
how you’re different inside
from out; of course the job,
& of course the other
too.” No…no. How could she?
“Take care of yourself,
or you’ll rot before your first day
at the Hearse Corporation.”