A Guide to Empathy

I

 

Put a line through your fishhook, and put your fishhook

through the spine of a paperback.

Reel it in until you have a ghastly girl by the hinge of her jaw, eyes wild

and someplace else.

Rip the hook out and let it bleed.

Remind her that she is here.

 

II

 

Set your sights on orange, plastic bottles and keep your finger on the trigger,

crush the powder between your teeth.

And when the naked boy comes running, and he

will come, aim for his columned ribs, poking out beneath bluish skin.

Watch the ice around his pupils melt, watch it all go black.

Tell him there is no shame in it.

 

III

 

Weave a net of refined silk, only in silver and gold,

and hold it above the heads of dancing girls.

Watch for the one with thick thighs and hungry eyes, the one who twirls her hair

until it is ripped out. Scoop her into the net, let her sleep.

The swollen skin above her cheeks lets you know she needs it. Taste the bile

on her breath and see the stains on your net. Watch her shred your silk and her skin. Know she needs it.

 

IV

 

Go hunting until we are all dead, hanging like animals that had their skin ripped off

and their insides replaced with cotton and beads. Place us above your mantle

with all the things we loved and all that ended us.

Will you feel bad?

Will it eat you up?

Do we consume you?

– Lu Terlikowski

 

 

 

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