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  • Charlie Ross

The Natural Complexities of Womanhood

Made it Just Fine

The patio door is unlocked deep in the suburbs and my night door stays locked for a rare, shameful time. I drop myself

into a bucket full of lists written unlike mine. Half of them are already scratched out

and enough to where I cannot reread their successes.

The boys I’ve been texting too much pick me up in a green beater truck that was passed from father to absent father to one of the boys who read Pygmalion to learn his way around love. Yes, Galatia radiates against the stars; she reaches from the impossible

until they fall into the ash tray rattling across the dashboard. Is there

a Jesus bobblehead at least somewhere to be found? No, the moon burns

through the bedroom lights after two hours of hoping he will finish soon. I step on unzipped bookbags, roaches and cockroaches, styrofoam cups brimmed with warm coke

and there’s no savior nailing my foot or palm to redeem me.

Feminine skin shines silky when she basks under the moonlight. Feminine skin rolls

like new foam on a beach casted with bunches of dead trees.

Her skin, conceding to nature, lights the lantern that still navigates the bogs

swaddling us well past birth. Galatia is sculpted in the ivory poachers would give

their lives for. I suppose it is romantic to challenge death for the things we love

if we are content calling everything a thing. If I am like

an imaginary character made alive

only through her participation in a collection where gods have sequels after sequels

of their crimes, then

I can deduce the exact shade of ivory she cannot unclothe. I take the moon’s reflection on me; a flashlight explores the emptying sky. I blind the eyes of those already told not to

look my way, but I am eventually invisible to the darkness lying not far ahead.

The boys cannot see me; they are staring into a blank screen having thunked

of all the ways

they were going to cross me

off the list with no scratch jutting pass the center of the page;

feminine skin under the moon takes in black ink all too well.

Keep This Love Song Hidden in the Drawer (Sincerely, You)

If the words I cannot say overpaint

the walls in the room,

the house will all fall

in disarray

I write in a private journal

and tell you an idea I’ve had

I’ve thought on a drive with

all the right songs I play

It’s all a cliche

Morrissey might say

or the curbing of a heart

pumped to its fill

Let me blow all the words I can utter

into a creaking balloon and sing

A bit of the lyrics

I wrote on a park bench


I’m a

melodramatic high and

winded in front of a coffee shop

Where I’m drinking the sweet taste

of pee

in the chamomile tea

It’s tragic

(oh so tragic)

I’m writing a boring love song

on a bike ride to paradise

I’m too tired

and it’s closer

to wallow my way home

Let’s have a talk

Pretend our woes are interesting

listening to the everythings

stasis in the atmosphere

The ride home is near

The green fixes itself into the words

blurring past me

They collect bashfully in the trees

I think of plenty of things to think and

I now mastered my pace

so let me mull over these memories

the way I have begun to memorize

the raises on your brazen shoulders

under the cold basement window


If you can find me a place


there light always shines

in infinite downpour,

The creek overflows

into only saltwater,

The trees are skyscrapers high

the branches never spread low,

A meadow clusters purple and

the poison in the larkspur dribbles, then

I will be familiar.

If you can find me a place where

the turkeys are plump all season but

they like the taste of flower petals,

The exterior is all brick and

half of the house long fell,

no planes fly over

no one knows I am here

The soil is velvet fertile though

I never learned to garden,


we can finally call it home.


and you’ll speak of unfinished poems. Inhale

the whiffs of afternoon boiling a river,

colder against the air enough

to decide

to splash your face.

Your eyes in the water everchange

following the trout until they disappear under the shoal.

You’ll wonder if the next to float by are the same

as before.

You can only tell

they look the same.

Exhale the smoke of a freight train

swinging forebodingly on a viaduct.

That’s the load you've carried on your feeble back


over ranges not high enough

to heaven

back to the coast.

Family and neighbors

they sometimes pick up a book of yours

from the cargo

only to return it with one or more items.

No matter if it is a gift

or a sign of aversion,

it weighs your back at least an ounce more.

So breathe

a merciful cry for the god around you

and may their swiftness be of mountain rapids

catching you

when it’s time to break open

your tranquility.

Charlie Ross is a current graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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