SPOTLIGHT: ‘baby, sweetheart, honey’ by Emily Perkovich


My mom used to work in hospitals and nursing homes. Long shifts. Heavy lifting. Clean-up in Room 3. Spilled-guts. Spilled-bowels. Spilled-bladder. Spilled-blood. Human-spill. Spill-spillage. She’d come home to house, nighttime-still. She’d come home to pass-out, lack of sleep. Stumble down stairs, wash away fluids. Wash away E. Coli. Wash away sweat. Wash away death-stench. Pass-out lack of sleep. Repeat, next day. Lift-up crying. Lift-up disease. Lift-up dying. Lift-up human-spillage. Repeat. Lift-up human-spillage. Repeat. The babies never had a chance. Twins. Fallopian-tube, burst. Platelet, internal-vein explosion. Ghost-bleeding. Phantom-bleeding. Insides-bleeding. Also known as hemorrhage. Also known as dying. Also known as 8 hours screaming/fainting/shaking pain. Also known as doctor-induced abort mission. Ride or die. Abort mission or sleep-eternal. No blood left. So I could hold two still-borns. One mass explosion. The other clump of tadpole-mess. Save the unborn. Send the living home. Follow the plan. Return home. Spare the rod, spoil the child. Kill the mother, spare the child. Or spoon-scrape cervix. Tissue-removal. Tissue-removal. And I wake every day thanking the doctor that left her blood-cup-half-full. Pray to false god of saving lives. Return me home. Return me home.

why i’ll always be haunted


too many hands, touching all the wrong spots. too much pressure, in places that never asked to be stained with dirty fingerprints and filthy mouths.


nights i woke up blindfolded. nights i woke up deaf. nights i woke up screaming. nights i woke up dead. nights i never slept.


the way the refrigerator felt pressed up against my back. anorexic-spine refusing to bend and break. chin up, tears checked. the way that the solid object gave false confidence. the way my bones still cracked.


the wedding ring in the grass.


tubes & wires
small lungs failing. because babies don’t belong here this early. but trauma has a way of bringing out the best of us.


tubes & wires
“you can’t hold him.”
“please give me back my baby?”
“you have nerve damage.”
“give me my baby back!”
“someone put her back to sleep.”


distance and space and sirens and screams. and how all of those words just feel like the word abandoned. and how everyone always leaves.


all these fucking metaphors.


my wrists tied to his knuckles. and how he hangs around my neck. and how he hangs around my thoughts. and how he gets hung up in my throat. and how my eyes feel hung out to dry.


the way the mirror explodes when it sees my face. how two of my fingers fit so perfectly at the back of my mouth. how i reach for the devil and up comes the ache.

Drunken Blizzards

Her head presses against cool glass, stomach still turning. She doesn’t know why, but one of his favorite games is scaring them. Too many drinks and too late in the night, he pulled the three girls from the party. He woke her violent from her already restless sleep. Too many drinks and a loud, showy repeat of a previous fight. All eyes on him. And him, voice blasting across the party. And mama pulls at his wrist, but he can’t even feel her there. He’s all name calling and feet stomping. Broken bottles and cards strewn across the floor. And she’s all forced laughs, begging, and pleading. Because nothing is wrong. And none of them have ever seen a storm. And nothing is wrong. And he yanks them all past the whispers and pushes them into the car. And too many people watch from the driveway as the car screeches away into the night. Too many drinks, and too cold a night, and he purposefully throws the car in dizzying, lurching circles. Snowbanks dislodge and explode outside her window as the tires tread them, too quick. And she mustn’t cry. Her mama is crying. Her sister is crying. But she mustn’t cry. If she doesn’t cry, the storm will never come. And so she lets the glass ease her turning stomach. And when he asks if she thinks it’s funny, she stares straight into his eyes, silent, wordless. And he laughs like they’re party to a private joke. And she rests her head back against the glass. And she watches the snow rise and fall again like it’s been given a second chance to hit the ground. And she thinks how life is always just repeating. Pounding, angry snowfalls turning to dirty piles, too heavy to hold. And her mama is crying. And her sister is crying. And he’s still shouting and laughing. Great, joyous cries whooping into the bright, white night. And a little prick of her fear slips away as she realizes there’s no stopping the storms. And she can’t help but to laugh at the joke as well.

A Reaping, A Sowing

I visit my grave, again
Refuse to kneel
I track the mud across the floor, again
Refuse to kneel

I cull
I prune
Sunbathe the plot
Flood the burial
The flowers never grow

I tear a petal from the stamen, hold a heart in my right hand, lungs in my left, this one says I love me, this one says not, and it’s that familiar feeling again, everything ends with rot

I bury flowers slowly

Fingerprints are pushing through earth, rising to surface, reaching for solidity, never full-fledged hands

I’m burying girl parts

Brush dirt from the folds

The flowers never grow

i don’t know how to hold pretty things

we watch a boy say incandescent and he means you are and i think how to apply that and she notates the quality but then all i come up with is luminescent and i worry that this is how internal wars start the pin drops in front of the loaded gun of the church mouse and i remember that silence rhymes with violence

do you remember your first kiss

i ate the tongue of a boy from the quarry
we kept hands at sides
stood chest to chest
scruffy mouth scraping my cupid’s bow with friction
he licked his lips at release

i do not remember my first kiss

a boy held me close in science hall
freckled face sang me spanish lullabies
i watched him finger pick my ribs
callouses climbing collarbones
and maybe i remember his melody

but i don’t remember that kiss either

i bathe in incandescence, swim in clarity, transcend into fever dreams, a hand creeps up my uniform skirt, a hand presses the back of head, a hand pushes me rough into a janitors’ closet, a hand at my cunt, a hand in my mouth, i choke on how incandescent the throat of a shadow remains


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s