ISSUE EIGHT: Melty Slayers | next poem →

Snakes & Ladders

Laurin DeChae

pry apart your parched lips just long enough to slip a sliver
of fruit juice down your throat, you dangling limb, you shriveling siren.
if this be the nectar of destruction, play on, play on. strike
up the strings into a melody made of mazes whistling
daydreams into the ears of gods and men. i know you’re thirsty.
sip on the clouds awhile and, drunk on the succor of heaven,

become truth-teller, oracle, seer. we’ve longed for heaven,
labored to build a perfect now populated with slivers
of human shadow haunting frames and fragments—all blood-thirsty.
no one thought it the time enough to sound those shrieks of sirens.
no reason for alarm. what is life but the sound of death whistling
through shuffled garbage and wind-whipped trees, looming, close to strike.

what is it about the end, that venomous creature that strikes
the body down? our fallen evaporate steams the heavens
into existence. what to do with all this excess? whistling
skin-sacks deflating into what can only be described as slivers
of skin-toned petals drifting towards the ground like broken sirens.
even cupping their slackened lips to water won’t make them drink—thirst

no longer dictated by the groping of the tongue. my thirst
hung around my neck, drips ruby, licks red like a hunger strike.
i wake and i sleep every day to the sound of the sirens.
i think that one day they’ll be loud enough to shake the heavens
awake. to breach the skies. no matter, i’ll save this little sliver
of memory, at once antiquity and the future whistling

the echo of the other. who watches the lips of a whistler
waiting to drink the spit from the sound of an artist’s thirst?
tell me the purpose of snakes, of slither, of silent, of sliver.
why of course: to wrap and constrict. to be the moment of strike.
if you’re seeing stars now that doesn’t mean you’ve made it to heaven,
you know what they say, were you dropped on your head? did you hear the sirens?

you are more than certain that what you heard was no siren,
but a howling hell, an airless gasp for more and then growled whistle.
this, i knew at once, was the furthest i could get from heaven.
no ladders. no up. no holy light. only unquenchable thirst
And knowing the hand won’t come down again, this—the final strike.

my heaven gave up on me with a siren in its bared teeth
and made me whistle broken hymns while cutting slivers
of myself, striking the record of my flesh, my thirst.

Laurin DeChae is a M.F.A. candidate for poetry at the University of New Orleans, where she acts as the associate editor for Bayou Magazine. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Cleaver Magazine, burntdistrict, S/WORD, Rose Red Review, and Rust + Moth.

ISSUE EIGHT: Melty Slayers | next poem →

ISSUE Eight: Melty Slayers

Laurin DeChae
   Snakes & Ladders
   It Will Be Alive

Jessie Janeshek
   Future Girls with Bikinis
     beneath Bruce Springsteen Tees

Samantha Duncan

Kenzie Allen
   According to Science

Jessy Randall
   Here comes a poor woman
      from baby-land

   Here comes an old woman,
     nimble namble

Ruben Rodriguez
   Because I’m Bad Ass and
      I Said So

Colleen Coyne

Rob Cook
   Unmarked Neural Pathways

Jon Riccio
   The Area Code for ESP

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Roger Williams
   Come Eleven

Matthew Johnstone
   Boatship: Port Layout Gossips

Daniel Schwartz

Amy Carlberg

   Embody the State of the World