When you are being manipulated you never know that you are being manipulated and you might be being told that you are being manipulative which makes you feel like aluminum in the sun
Q: Where did you leave the snarls of your long brown hair?
A: I did not leave the strands of my brown brown hair.
AA: That wasn’t the question question.
Q: Do you ever wonder how wind sculpts snow?
A: Wind doesn’t sculpt snow. Snow pulls wind. Like gravity. Like stars.
A: The square root of your problems is you. You. You.
AA: I stop saying them. I stop saying. Them. I am saying too much. I am not saying anything. I am mixed. I am mixed up. I am mixed eggs aluminum. I remember a time that I do not remember in words, only the sharp grain of a cheap door. Only the sharp lights of a cop mouthing, was it a fight? Was it maybe just a fight? Ma’am? I am mixed eggs in the steel pangs of stirring. I remember wrong. I remember mixed. I am mixed up. I am wrong.
Q: I love you aluminum.
A: Do you know the difference between aluminum and tin.
Q: What time magnolias?
A: No schedule, but did you know that magnolias fold beetle feces over their stamen.
A: We are on a schedule, here. Did you know that there is no nectar in magnolias? Have you found the ripped stems along the sidewalk? You can’t smell a magnolia. You can’t save the bees.
A: I miss you. I miss you. I miss you.
A: You can’t save the bees.
AA: I have an extra tooth. I have probably the most teeth of anyone in this room right now. Just a small twang of bone, just a tiny extra bone, a bit more than most. But I won’t eat meat.
Q: How far Montana? How long Monday? How cross Kentucky?
A: Seven hundred anthills.
AA: We’re late, yeah.
Q: When do the dust particles flicker best?
A: I am not saying that I feel like lead-buttons, but I have not said for six days what is missing, Amen.
AA: This tree is heaven.
Q: This tree is heaven?
Q: This bark sparks first.
Q: Which bark is manna?
Q: Where did we drop her?
Q: Did we drop her?
A: 7:00 I start a list because lists are accurate, empirical. I start a list because I read a list of ways to organize your thoughts and a list was on that list.
AA: 7:01 Am I lying if I count wrong? Am I lying to describe the way the air smells? If I don’t know the proper term for the way the air smells? Am I lying alone on the carpet? Am I lying down right now? Why is my face so sharp? Am I lying if I forget your name? I have forgotten your name. I am feeling abandoned that I have forgotten your name. I am feeling silly narcissistic for feeling abandoned for having forgotten your name. You. You. You.
AAA: 7:13 What if I am the Mississippi River and I never ran anywhere at all. My knees hurt. Do my knees really hurt. Ow yes my knees really hurt. But do they really injured hurt or do they my mind is mixed up shooting off signals like flare guns because it is sinking inside of itself again hurt.
Q: 7:13 I can’t run; but can’t I run?
Q: 7:13 Where have I kept you all this time? Where erased you? Where been erased like you?
Q: Am I lying if the weight of me is evenly dispersed horizontally?
A: Say that you love me.
Q: Am I awake if I can see every inch of you?
A: Say that you love me.
AA: Do you love me, Aluminum?
Q: Are you aluminum?
CC: My Abuser Who Does Not Think He is My Abuser
When I am charting course across Mercury
my hand to its hairline dawn at a steady beat,
charting the pockets of your teeth in a low, growled hum,
charting mistakes because if I can make them
I can break them, too, the slow pops as I snap peas
like spines, your sharp, filed eyes to my throat
I can’t breathe but I can chant, a thousand red pens squeal
as I squeeze their tracheas and shake like they have jobs
to do and kids and bottles of cheap, gold wines,
and dreams of managing a chilis someday, wearing
smooth black shoes and the sharp folds of a white shirt
and the power to say: No.
When I am charting stars like blemishes, I chip
the charts against their makers—who sent you, who
sent you, who sent you. When I dissect them, biopsy
coronas, taxonomize the gradients from absence to white
from elbow to gash to gasp. When I can hold them all
like thin, flat blades—blunted if stacked, like so,
I’ll burn them—
all except your negatives,
I’ll wear around my neck
like teeth. Evidence
that I have killed. Called my own name, and said:
AJ Wolff is a Midwest poet/wanderer/human with work forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Arcturus, Firefly Magazine, Neologism, and Parentheses. These poems come from a chapbook in progress on agency and abuse, called A River is Never Broken.