poetry

The Brightest Burn

For Maia,

 

My friends are

fire.

I wonder how

they keep burning–

 

in winter

in the desert

at night

without kindling

without care for the universe

telling them to dull.

 

Maybe, when God

or chance

created the matter

that I would love,

She said to hell with the universe–

let it burn.

 

And isn’t it beautiful

that we can all stand together

to watch it go?

 

-Lu Terlikowski

Sound, Be.

I want to write about galaxies and sound interesting

or artsy or avant-garde

or whatever it is that people want these days.

 

I don’t mean to sound cynical,

but how many people in their early twenties

truly relate to roman phrasing and cocaine abuse?

 

I wonder how much of what I write in my lifetime

will be written to get me laid or paid—

how much of it will be real?

 

Truthfully, I’m too scared to ever do a line

or write one that’s honest. But I’ll try:

I’m going to die an insurance salesman in a town I hate.

 

No one wants to read that.

So I’ll spell out misery

in every way I can,

 

pray to Aphrodite for tits and love

sing to the stars in lingerie

and be interesting.

 

-Lu Terlikowski

A Contemporary Beauty

Show me something hard, round, and raw—

like thick thighs and lipstick lines

and voices quivering beneath the name of God

 

Faces aglow with neon lights, drawn

taught, terrible, and beautiful into floating smiles

that make the daisy people swing

 

Show me sequined skirts ripping holes in tights

drag queen walks that stomp, click, and flicker

long legs that glow and entangle in their like

Show me a beating heart against gentle breasts:

and you have shown me God.

-Lu Terlikowski

The Cycle

The water spills and maids have soaking knees.

You tie them up and let them bleed. So slow

do leaves come falling down. Is snow always

so harsh? Be killed or kill… I choose to die.

So hang me up and let me dry. So slow

the world can spin on pointed toes and crossed

fingers until they stop. No spinning, crossing,

pointing. Stopped. The maids are cleaning still,

you killers killing. She and he and I—

we hang, suspended bulbs for all to see.

So lift me up and let me breathe. So slow

do dying breaths go breaking through the fog.

 

Replaced with new and better maids. With new

and better killers, me’s, and you’s to hang.

-Lu Terlikowski

Baltimore

The air smells of fish

and the wind is whipping

hair into faces.

 

A performer holds six knives

and slings them into the air,

smiling, dodging, and catching them again.

 

Paddle boats shaped like dragons

line the dark harbor

with paint-chipped snarls.

 

A small rollercoaster

roars with bells and

rides in bent circles all night.

-Lu Terlikowski

Dead End Meet and Greets

Watch me give away my eyes to broken glass and painted street signs—

Two-cent lipstick on broken mothers whose sequined skirts

Rip their tights and scratch their bones.

 

To the businessmen in monochromatic suits sitting in spiked chairs

Chaining their wrists to plastic keys and dreaming of jumping off skyscrapers—

But broken elevators lend no hand to top floor flights.

 

To chain-link fences surrounding basketball courts—

Big dream Jason’s who learned how to strut and shoot

And shoot again.

 

To empty alleys with crushed crack pipes and graffiti signatures

Stray cats and things and people who left and lost—

Dead end meet and greets to pass the time.

 

Eyes plastered on every brick that beat the brains out

And fingers rising from the sewer drains ripping skin and souls—

Eyes always open, watching without looking, asking for the time.

-Lu Terlikowski

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