Oct/Nov 2008 spotlight

Three Poems

by Susan Slaviero


A Modern Synthesis

The way she looks, you'd think
zippers do not exist. Only latch-hooks

and buttons. No tight welds at her waistline,
or tiny speakers where her lips should be.

In the right kind of shadow, she could be
drinking milk. You might try and open her up

with a screwdriver, looking for rainwater
and wristwatches, perhaps a password

to decrypt those fetal markings on the soles
of her feet, the tattoos of clockwork eyes

and fork tines, silver keyholes that collect
in the hollows of her metallic limbs.

She is the cobbled remains of old
calendars—corsets and prisms, a hunger

for apples. A mythology swallowed
with aspirin and coffee. The taste

of salt. You were there. Something female
was alive. Something shivered in the icebox.


Our Lady of Machinery

smokes plutonium cigarettes on the starboard side.
She undoes the overdrive rhythms of silver motion
until these memes are mirrors. Until these mirrors
are pulses on the space-time continuum. A viral
neologism. Word of mouth. She is matrilineal code,
a thaumaturgic model. O siren! O martyr! Her face
is a Marian illusion, a flickering virgin in your
garbled prayers. Your fiberglass reflection.


The Mechanician

knows that a woman without veins has no use
for a tourniquet. That she takes calcium pills
hoping to grow bones. He fashions her a solenoid

spine, electromagnetic thumbs, pulleys at her hips
and shoulders. She is milk and smoke, a dash
of candlepower, her wire antennae clacking

like ice cubes in a tumbler of gin. He labels her
vixen/mistress/bitch. Imagines her in a shirtwaist
and pearls watching television talk shows, cooking

three-course meals in the microwave. She is fond
of fish. Her hair, braided filaments shimmering
under the solar lights. A halotrope. A phantasmagoria.

She loves it when he speaks to her in binary code,
turns her on with tight little strokes of her power
switch. She was born twice from black water

he says. Once, she was feral. Once, she was ruins.


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