View Archives by:



Eileen R. Tabios

Because his words impressed you long ago
long before your tongues glided over each other’s dusty limbs
long before you came to want to chew him into salt
you could melt at the edge of your throat and swallow without a wince
you told him as you looked down below linked lashes
between your blue-veined thighs split for his foraging fingers
and stained by the gray tears of old tattoos
“You will never have to pay”

He taught you how a “kiss” can be defined
so expansively its meaning can encompass a bite
so keen it split a lip’s membrane
to release blood whose taste you had never known
could be so exquisite
it shall become a memory that shall surface for years
without your bidding and whose presence
shall make itself known through your teeth baring themselves at air

You don’t write poems like he does
but you sing your dirges loudly because
his poems invited you to reconfigure
what your eyes fear but have no choice in seeing–
how an empty street becomes a long knife
a clown’s face becomes the threshold to a nightmare
a cluster of bees become soldiers battling the Nazis
your father’s senility becomes an open door for reconciliation
the fog spilling over a hill forms a day’s source of grace
the sky becomes an eggshell easily punctured by turkey vultures–

he gave you an unwrapped gift
you once thought you could never repay

until he taught you how to bend
forward in Miami, palms pressed against an alley’s dank walls
“as if you’re frisked by a policeman”
and, like a bomb or a fart, began a series of aftermaths
where he didn’t bother with conversation
before and after you opened your mouth over
wherever he positioned your face–always the same place–
when he knows, he knows, he knows
his words were always the most important to you

and you had never desired
despite your aching throat
not being beholden to the Muse

Eileen R. Tabios

Read Bio

Author Discusses Poems