SPOTLIGHT: Death & The Maiden by Lucy Hannah Ryan

Purgatorial, Much?

Ode to Jennifer Check (died: Jennifer’s Body, 2009)

& her purse is all full of matchbooks & the bottle caps Roman wants to keep  & it’s the same twee Dear Diary moment clutched in barstool trash      & ash from the marlboros she bummed off an angel, kissing her own reflection until she tastes the cool glass      & there’s just enough room for that, the gaps in her Hello Kitty baguette just wide enough       for the aftermath of flame & there’s a game on, so she watches the silk shorts shift    & twists her hips to The Who when Roman forgets her name      & downs the lame drinks the dirtbags throw her way, it’s a play      the way she cuts her thumb on a bottle cap & sucks it till it stings      sings a lullaby to the guys & their teeth all dripping white      like, she knows this goddamn song, & it goes on & on & on until she’s pink     & sinking dizzy with soured tenderness, even the steak here thick with gristle      & abyssal, the parking lot, where she steals another smoke   & thinks of bus rides & blonde halos on the bridge out of hades nails slid against the matchbook, sparks, but no fire

Ode to Laura Lee (died: Yellowjackets, Season one episode eight, Flight of the Bumblebee, 2021)

everyone is born waterlogged,
but I’m not sorry it happened to me twice.

chlorine makes for a cleaner baptism,
God and his acid kiss. it stings so I know he loves me.

and only warm in the water,
pulpy lungs like lilypads, floating on in good graces.

traced it, the scar I never got, right on the prophet’s forehead,
just before I pushed her under.

It’s Always Sunny on Television
Ode to Sarah Lynn (died: BoJack Horseman, Season three episode eleven, That’s Too Much, Man!, 2016)

she wants to tell you about the beehive under her bedroom window but she can’t get past the way it sounds like childhood / when she was little and god was a glass eye and nine spotlights yellow as egg yolks.

her tongue gets stuck in the precocious gap between her teeth, cereal-gluey / kaleidoscoping candied O’s she couldn’t eat when clouds were cotton balls glued to gradient blues because her teeth chattered too much / as bees chattered behind the black, wings beating to match her caffeinated twitch.

and she can’t make it slow, caramel dripped down sundae glasses or sloshing bottle darker than her mother’s spiced perfume / writes, instead, in the dust on the window, sealed shut like her shrink-wrap belly.

that buzzing, low, beside her ear, and only getting closer.

The Body Politic

Ode to Kendra Young, died: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season two episode twenty-one, ‘becoming, part one’, 1998)

I was a country when the war came to me, a body on the verge of conquer; A body on the verge of belonging & even the sea could not find where fate directed me;
Strange lands & stranger sands, I found my own hands clasped across the trenches; Salt licking at my wounds & marooned were all the things I once used to write my name;
Some frail God & his terrible game; & I was his country & the flag sank against my breastbone, silver birch splitting the sweet pink; & sinking in;
War claimed the girl of me & never once called it casualty.

How Very, part ii

Ode to Heather Chandler, died: Heathers (1989)

     so easily they become tornadoes, gargle-spit of cherry coke in fraternity sink, mink coat slick with slushie-red vomit and my body a cascade of twitching pink, a twirled swatch of bleeding block color, blush from cheek to glistened lip, sweet-sore purple spanning a fragile wrist and red, my hair pulled back in velvet.

     tornadoes, the perfume spritz, beer breath stink, the sinking feeling where the acid is thick and viscous, and tornadoes, spinning to the frothed up pop songs until I’m dizzy enough to forget, spinning until I’m nothing but red blur and quease.

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