the poetry that matters

Cassandra Schiemann

Cassandra Schiemann lives in Hamilton, ON. Her work has appeared in Wicked Alice, 42 Opus, Shampoo, and Jones Ave, among others.

I carry my sandals instead of wearing them, draped in my hands they are the fool's invention.

The flesh of stone is fading in these dreams. and all round, all bod-breaking, all tasteless confabulations are thrown off this slumping shoulder, skimming across the leapfrog surface of my upturned face. Do you turn and run from my front door because the electric shock of our skin shot stars out of the sky? A showdown of the greatest lust-driven corpses to ever make dirty, dirty love underneath the earth's rigid temper... (and I sat there picturing you picturing me naked) eyes gleaming like a parachute and we are refusing to fall. This time we don't voice our intentions, and limp bodies ache to become vigorous again.

Is it because I fell asleep with the tip of my foot slightly pressed against your leg? I'm sorry, but it was the closest to the end of the world my toes would ever dip into.











My Week Colored Orange


Monday: I eat an orange and get angry at the seeds. Why is it called seedless, and yet I have to push this white life bead around with my tongue, or suck it out, pull it through the orange skin with my teeth. I hate oranges when they have seeds in them.

Tuesday: so transform me, turn me into a desert. Make my skin dry so that we can peel it off. Bask in the sunlight that the moon preys on. Let’s go tanning now. so we can be pretty. and orange.

Wednesday: I shiver on my bed while wearing nothing but an answer to everything. You love that.

Thursday: I borrow from the dictionary some mad laughter and I turn it through my hands like clay. I make a sculpture. Then make another.

Friday: I have no voice left. It shattered. My father tells me a story about the time his father sliced his hand on a broken wine glass in the dishwater. I think about this long and hard. I am warned it's dangerous.

Saturday: sleep must be pushed to the limit. I don't move and I’ve indented the mattress like grass pressed down into the shape of our arm spread bodies. You stare at the sunset and moments later stars start gleaming like orange seeds. Oh, my mouth is space and I will take you in it.

Sunday: nothing happens Sunday. But then I am told that nothing is indeed something. so Sunday something happened. and let's call whatever happens science, so I can go back to school and fail it.










hy·po·chon·dri·a·ses /-"sEz/
: morbid concern about one's health especially when accompanied by delusions of physical dis(EASE) cass.... EASE.


today was just great. finally get enough
courage to
scream like a madman
felt good, but am afraid I
frightened the little fairies, the
little worms right out of the ground.

I’ve been going crazy, just a little.
a lying-down-in-the-middle-of-the-bedroom
sort of crazy. the lifting of your hands up in the air
and feeling the blood drain out of them

"scratch your head, cassandra. there’s
bugs crawling around, cassandra." and of course a fly,
an original "bibette", flies by my ear and cackles.
it’s a short-winded gasp for air multiplied by a million

and the things fly across your vision...

who knew that floating ribs existed? or that reading books about
schizophrenia made you feel safer because mother’s aren’t heroes,
they’re voices. they’re darlings. a box of instant cake mix, turned into
cupcakes because you don’t have the right size
baking pan. 

I hear retching in the bathroom and it’s not me, it’s not me.
I hear scraping of metal hooks attached to amputated limbs and
it’s just you. your wide mouth, tooth decay drips like plaster,
drips like sweetened poison. mon dieu. it’s really gone and
taken you away this time. showed you the moon and then erased it.
made you a shining sun,
a sunburn.










1. taxaros

Somebody told Hyacinth of my attempted suicide
some years ago. And her eyes widened like the handle of a carrot.
‘what a poor, crawling thing you are.’ She said and her orange flesh
drooped like wet tree bark, down the sides of her face like spider-strings.
‘stop grating, stop grating.’

Dare I swear I would never do it again?

In a past life I was a dandelion-kicker,
Taking shots at stems that never snapped.
And the white puffs would rise in upheaval,
All the eyelashes of angels set loose so they couldn’t blink,
Couldn’t heal or help and now I’m left without the crunch of fresh lettuce. See, I’m tree flung,
Flying going nowhere. And I’m killing the remedy again.

Dare I swear I would never take the pills to make them grow again?

So I told Hyacinth I was happy
And her eyes glistened sharp
as an empty stomach anticipates food.

I dip her in the dishwater. Wipe her clean.


ii. Asklepios

I am drunk on your love, milkweed
I am soaking in air and gasping for earth.
Facing forwards, but somehow staring at
The back of me. The wind says ‘uh oh,
There’s trouble.’
And the hands of a lesser being
Squeeze the congregation out
Onto the street.

You yawn and the world
Inhales your baby breath.

I ask, ‘why cling under my skin
Like parachutes?’
(no other creature on earth without wings would attempt to fly)

you can’t make it.'

You bend your arm to show me the bone.

iii. Mullein

Hag’s taper, save me. Be my earring,
My landline. I can perch on your ceiling,
Count blessings like multiplication charts
Hung on the walls of a classroom. They say
Father knows best so I’m hedging
Towards the shallow end of your soil.

Was I born to be your seedling?

King's candle, show me. Which way
to enlightenment? you share stories of good versus evil. My tongue laps at your wisdom.
i'm poisoned.












two-bit nites since she felt that buzz
bludgeoning through, bare feet still
dusty from the walk and a motoring heart
that hums its weakness. (a-mur-mur. a-slam.)
a murmur. a slam. and she's bitter tea striking
your tongue.

Please explain.

It was a dream of a red dress that sent her
searching through racks for the right words.
It was “how-do-you-say... that I’m dried up. I’m not
angry about this decline, this regurgitation,
the off switch being struck and the chains hung from my
master light bulb remaining untouched. It’s the upset
of the channeling.”

and it's true that a poet needs not to be a
blue vapor of atonement, a beaded frown lodged
between the craftsman’s hand and sewing needle.

So I could imagine her lifting her shirt up and flashing
the magistrate, where the hell were you?
You are turnip-white and slated for destruction.
You are flavored ice sucked colorless.
The calories are counted on your fingers. You take in,
take in, take out. Please
don’t tell me how it is. Keep your shelf viewing and
your tuberous hand gestures to yourself.

(I work on my machine
And she enters without
My even noticing.
Standing at the bottom of
The stairs sipping coke,
I say, “go away.” And she
Continues to sip, sip
Eyes are drawn to closure
I say, “I’m busy.” And she
Continues to stare.)

She stands in the hallway and hugs me.










My Infrequent Beatitude


my fingers slime and twitching in the car door. my death wish is to enter the state of being emotionally aroused and worked up; "her face was flushed with excitement and her hands trembled"; "she tried to calm those who were in a state of extreme inflammation." my reasoning is far beyond the abilities i obtain. here, this city flushed with parking meters. i lose a coin and i'm still not moving. my brush with someone half-interesting, half-common, half-abstentious. i'm bored and all my influences are floozies. we have slits between our legs so we are half-empty (or about to be) half-agreeable. and the flesh i feel and know i have is forgettable. oh luscious stream of human extroverts, it's quiet here. it's pleasant. to kiss your knees and say thank you for supporting me. fuck your dirty language. i look better sideways. i look better hiding, petting fur-flaxen upholstery. i feel better touching myself in ways Atlas would be jealous, he felt our world and lifted it. I feel mine and drown it. my cunning jealousies are uneven, and sifting through my narrow field of dynamics. my moment of realization, so this is when one is considered easy. so this is that slap in the face. so this is spiritual masturbation gone wrong. so this is hanky-panky in the backseat. so this is that.

speeding down the highway, child cassandra almost opens the passenger door, but father, man, leans over and saves the day. she does not tumble and scrape her face off on the concrete. she forgets about it until fifteen years later, speeding down the highway. hey you, man... not father, but someone else’s kid, my scapegoat, my chunk of flavor, my dirty boot, would you save me? would tell me "SLAM" and not mean fucking, would you be that arm that disconnects and doesn't think. I'd like to be an arm that disconnects and doesn't think. i'd like to slam a door, but in this case i mean fucking. i'd like to fall and scrape my face off on the concrete.

irrelevant. all this is. that.




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