Rebecca Anne Renner's work has been featured or is upcoming in Mothering Magazine,Pedestal Magazine, Underground Voices, Liquid Imagination, Gutter Eloquence, The Bloody Bridge Review, The Stray Branch, Blinking Cursor, Everyday Poets, Short Fast and Deadly,Anastomoo, and an anthology from Silver Boomer Books. A selection of her poetry is available in the book "Sex with Neptune." She is a recipient of the American Academy of Poets University Prize, and she is the Editor-in-Chief of Barrier Islands Review. She is currently attending Stetson University for her BA in English with plans to further her education with an MA in English Literature.
souls of fish in opaque bowls
made not of flesh or bones
but thick pressed paper
out of thistle
leaves too stiff from milky potions
poisons, des poissons
barks too thick. glutted. caramelized.
scaled with bitter bokeh
all moths of crumpled telegrams
sloughing dots. stops.
; . :, ..; ; . :, ..;
.. :, ; . :, ..;
..; ; . :, ..;
into liquid lighting
somewhere is calling
craven skulls of dear in storms
they seize the sudden
dead sparrow lifts wing
just the wind
scattering closed eyelids
It is like red pressed flowers
full, in bloom, then pressed and clotted.
It is like the weight of water
on your shoulders,
in your stomach, churning,
in your feet.
It is like the first breath
squeezed out of your lungs
as you enter the spring.
It is nothing like birthday cake.
It is nothing like mother of pearl.
It is nothing like new potato stew.
It is like smoking for the first time
and not coughing or worrying
It is like tracing the constellations
for a second time, and wondering
how Cassiopeia looks like a mouth.
It is so much like stone soup
that if you concentrate, you can
taste the onion and the stone.
It is nothing like fate.
don’t come to me with your sick-faced bags of groceries beat into a compost hill. it still yearns for you. it still drips. don’t come to me, sunken-eyed and listening for beauty to come from my lips like the record player on the divan. it tastes like caked oats on the lips of babies faces. and it smells like solace on a swollen throat pursed around a ragged Adam’s apple. you came to me you say, for the dinette set and the Tupperware with the floral on it. but I know you came to me for freedom from all those benedictions of sailors past, mariners and steamboat captains never were a match for you.
you’d tell us a story on the sandy shoal of the creek about an alligator who turned into a man who never outgrew his teeth.
and he dragged his face around the swamp, looking for solace so they say, and all he found was wool and wind chimes and skin waiting to be dust. she was a pretty thing, too soft around the neck and hips. she had the night-water moon in her eyes and her parables like that was all she’d need.
the toads gasped guttural platitudes and their feet in the harvest moon. and he would say, it sill yearns for you, the swamp. and you never could describe her skin quite right.
we grew up around the golf courses, swept and sprayed and clipped, calling the alligators in the lakes sea monsters or wonderers since they told us, in the dry season, these beasts swagger from puddle to puddle, keeping their skin on straight.
we slept out on the Suwannee banks one night; the only light from a house far on the other bank amongst the cypresses stretched in wake over the brown waters. and I could hear them calling, gurgling, hissing, searching for a mate.
they yearned in the sultry night to grow legs and backs of men and walk into the moonlight and fish me from the silt.
don’t come to me with all these tales just to leave me wanting more.