We were dripping los trópicos, we were altar candles.
The setting: a hotel room in Havana, the gun in the cigar box,
concierged on the outskirts of a city poised to hate fuck us.
It felt sexy to pretend we were bandit lovers running from something
besides each other, the never ending of what had never begun;
We could run to palms and empty churches,
I could dirty my knees three different ways, say my Hail Marys while fueled at the mouth.
Aquí, I wanted to be your mercury bride, the kind of woman Celia would admire,
the strong woman you wanted,
a woman of saints & fast cars,
unscarred by a history of violence,
of stairs that lead to open air—
you once said loving me was too steep a drop,
you sounded just like my father.
How does a wordsmith acquaint herself with the numbering of days,
that beating down of doors and dead horses?
I gave up my voodoo, you son of a bitch,
I found God in the oddest places.
Shuttered from the sunlight, slatted patterns of revolt and romance,
it was easy to pretend we were New Years Eve all over again,
the ‘58 of second chances:
the unmade bed, Chan-Chan, our bodies freed at last from their riddles,
two matches and one last cigar.
Give me a good máquina, you’d say,
and I’ll cut to Heaven from where we are.
I won’t lie, I miss the way you prescribed me
short skirts and little ribboned books of verse,
as if all my troubles were merely a matter
of picking the wrong perfume.
You made being a Woman look so violently delicious,
a courtesan who poisons with her lipstick,
rips silk stockings for nooses, chooses
who to render unfaithful.
I am too transient, too eternally wavering,
to savor white churches and men with accents,
wax plants potted with rotted ring fingers,
your dark horse talent for moving milk between continents.
I called you Mussolini’s Rouge and you
named me the Versailles Suicide,
we were spy & sparrow, but it felt too much like cheap currency or
cheapish lace, a thing made for wasting—our fate to be broke
You are still the long-legged in-between,
you will be seen goddammit, even if you have to sew their eyes open;
you wear your curses like bottles of prayer and
I miss you, horse haired darling.
You were not so dangerous to love.
Editor's Note: These poems originally appeared on our old site.
Emily Linstrom is a NYC-based writer and artist. Her work has been featured by/in Three Rooms Press, Rose Red Review, American Slander, Wicked Alice, Literary Bohemian, Eunoia Review, and Nailed Magazine. Upcoming features include Misfit Magazine and Goblin Fruit. A burlesque & sideshow veteran, she has eaten fire and walked on glass for the likes of Cirque du Soleil, The Slipper Room, Brooklyn Circus Co., New York Fashion Week, The Bowery Poetry Club, and various short film installations and music videos. She is currently wrapping two film projects, one of which is based upon an original short story.