Five Ways to Look at Blinds

I

 

The blinds are always open in summer

like the kind gatekeeper

for Sun, and Light, and Good Things.

 

 

II

 

A man was killing and the blinds

were broken.

The whole house— we,

were exposed.

 

 

III

 

Things gather dust when left to be.

Blinds gather sunrises and sunsets.

 

 

IV

 

Close them, they said,

close them and mourn in peace.

And so I drew the blinds.

 

 

V

 

The shuffle of blinds folding into one another—

Winter is here

and it is dark again.

-Lu Terlikowski

Guts and Glory

I lived in a dizzy world where colors were brighter and everything sang

But me— the sporadic life of stunted daisies and crushed beetles

Whose guts spilled out onto the pavement like a blackened rainbow.

I thought of ripping myself up from the bottom of my roots

But a passing gentleman reminded me I would surely die.

Now there is a woman who kneels and hushes the songs of the world—

I imagine what it might be like to swing on her ribs or dance on her eyelashes.

The gentleman passes again and warns, but I let the woman twist me up—

There is light on me, and color on me, and I miss the ground— but cannot return.

Are you still there? I ask my beetle friend. Are you? Asks the gentleman.

-Lu Terlikowski

Foreshadowing

A woman was popping her gum when my mom died.

The hospital was nearly empty–

the air was taking up all of the space.

 

I sat outside, like people do,

when they’ve been sitting inside for a very long time.

and I shut my eyes to the sounds around me.

 

Then pop, pop, pop.

hard, fast, and true and backwards

and forwards in my brain like echoes.

 

The heart monitor held conversation—

everyone else had the secrets, hushed.

And the gum filled, busted, emptied.

 

To one another— beep, pop, beep, pop.

They don’t know hospital rituals.

 

Silence—

I guess they do.

-Lu Terlikowski

Self Portrait

Tuesday morning line of plastic bottles

Each three fourths empty, evenly wasted.

Thursday night living, $14 vodka

Sliding down my throat,

And uncovering my eyes, skin, and bones.

Two stale bed sheets

And eighty- four unturned pages later,

Where did the fifth hour go?

The girl glowing in metal holes sees me

Her cigarette twists its smoke

Into people that fleetingly exist.

Numb fingers

And shredded post-its in potted plants,

Everything stuck in decay.

Stumbled walk laughter, cool breeze,

Dizzy eyes, lighter for the first time all week—

Drifting into the clouded darkness.

Fridge door open, shut, open,

Washed grapes on the second shelf

Rotting leftovers on the third— I’m not hungry. Shut.

Bloody knuckled fight with a wall, ripped nail against translucent skin,

Wrecked bikes, ocean drifts, dying fish,

And mold growing in the fibers of my sweaters.

I lay on a stained carpet in the dusty sunlight, hollow—

An empty thing waiting to be any thing else.

Curled, then spread palms up on a closet floor,

Praying that the static will drain from my veins.

 

-Lu Terlikowski

Snakes in the Andy Warhol Museum

Monochromatic films of sleeping outtakes;

You want to look at the actors? Come take a look.

No one knows about the snakes.

 

Floating, silver clouds that glide and make

Light. Steady as we shook.

Living for the outtake.

 

The homoerotic issues we stab with our stakes,

Announcing to the world who we fuck—

But no one knows about the snakes.

 

Back to the Factory where we are alive and fake

Eyelashes, tits, and smiles spill to the camera that took

The only scene not meant for the outtakes.

 

Let’s call it avant-garde heartache—

The way we are and the way we are when they look.

Has anyone asked you about the snakes?

 

Loud, breathless, present, awake.

How do you make every moment one for the books?

No one sees our monochromatic outtakes

No one knows about the snakes.

-Lu Terlikowski

The Chains of Custody

My God, just straighten up. Don’t cry— do not.

Just eat the fucking food. Did you just piss your pants?

 

The heel, the boot. Get hit by whichever

one hurts the most. My nose in corners, pink

vomit on tile. Just four years lived. Four years. Forget.

 

I try forgetting things. The hands. The smile.

The look. So long ago, I say. But no,

I can still taste the blood like ripe spring fruit.

 

I can still see the flies that swarmed the rot

of counter top meals. Meat left out— uncooked.

I can still hear your voice the day they came,

the way it cracked like you hadn’t noticed.

 

My God, your ribs. White socks for you. Just please

try eating. Why do you still flinch like that?

-Lu Terlikowski

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

 

 

 

Sunday

Everyone is in church pews,

sitting quietly,

fingers crossed in laps of muted patterns.

No one comes in baring skin

and no one’s fingers

are dipped in gold.

There are no trumpets being blown,

no flags being raised,

no wind-swept sirens

being carried into the distance.

No barbaric shouting at the Earth

and all that is above it.

No movement at all,

save the woman in the last pew

who bounces her knee

and stares out the window.

-Lu Terlikowski