the ghost who lives in my mouth is a girl who died in a fire
whose true face I’ve never seen except in murky mirrors
whose story remains untold
the ghost who lives in my mouth is a sorrow creasing my face
and I can smell her breath like orange rinds left in a sunlit car
as I lay in my bathtub
sometime I will be eating and feel her move inside my cheek
a brand of trypophobia, I clench my jaws to hold her
she squirms against my teeth
eventually I will eat her up, every morsel devoured
and the only thing left of this haunting will be
The man with the beard
parked the tired car in the lawn,
and there it bled rust
into the greenest grass of June.
In the winter, the nails gave way to rust;
the stairway collapsed, and nothing
chased me off the porch.
Crimson rivers followed nails,
past skin, past muscle,
and into bone.
Such is injury.
that great sterling nail
which we set in each other’s wrists
to hold together our hearts,
has rusted through with the saline
of my tears, and the wound still bleeds.
It was after ma’s death.
The bedspread was the orange-brown of rust.
The ceiling was stained from spring.
The stacks of industry poison
The winter night with rust,
Trapping the dead light of lamps
In clouds, pictures hanging on nails
As a child, they took me to the landfill.
They set the rusted washing machine
on a hillock of waste,
and took out a rifle, and shot it,
piercing a neat hole in the middle,
out of which trickled a line of blood.
An old woman, gray in skin,
sits in the room with the ladies
whose hair is the color of money,
rusting away in the smoke and the ashtrays,
clipping her nails.
ties broken meatless bones
skunk and raccoon
she-beast tearing carcasses
brushing away maggots, flies
into bracelets, necklaces
into the fashion of decay
the dank odor of the river bed
still growing in their pith:
find a warmer host.
Jessica Lindsley grew up in North Dakota before the oil boom. Her work has been published in the Smoking Poet, Blackwood Press, Thirteen Myna Birds, DEAD SNAKES and other publications.