Kaya Oakes



The Terrible Reckoning


The fact of the matter is. The fact of the matter is that

we are all bags of misery, gelled and frozen and reconstituted.

Something delicious is only a memory when your mouth

has gone powdery overnight. The fact of the matter is that

we are all bags of skin containing things to be corrupted.


This is what I wrote. That corruption is a natural progression,

that skin recedes and puckers, leaving blood vessels

that clog and muscles atrophying. This is what I wrote,

that misery is destiny and pain necessary to an understanding

that the concept of transgression is something alien to most.


Transgression sucks us to the husks and leaves when people

break things we adore them and collect them, specimens

as opposed to rapidly morphing, often cranky bodies

which happens when their lives are carved from pain

series of moments seeing if that pain will ever cease.

They are so lovely in repose because they have been thinking about

how rest will feel forever.





Seven Brides


We lived inside a stinking tint, halfway between black and brown

and nothing left. Shelter was the foolish hint of windows open,

facing east. Each morning, we were blind to one another.


We ate like it was madness, never enough. A root

would rise up from our throats and fork in our clogged mouths.

Speech was permissible, as long

as understanding never clouded it.


Rhythms played in school were false. But she

commands them as we're taking turns

compressing in her wedding gown.


I'm going to put it on tonight, drive

my broken car against the hills. You ought

to see the way it looks on us, various pasts

enmeshed across the ugly scale of satin,

our eyes a cloud of hungry bees, humming just beneath the veil.







Lux Perpetua


Finally, there is a light

and what it makes of us; so embarrassing we shirk

responsibility, in favor of retreat. What thoughts we had

on passing one another, some afternoon

when randomness meant more than mere association

will remain suppressed. After meeting you it was as if

the notions I had clung to for so long

they might have been foundations were little

more than art and less than time, and you wore on me

enough that I was just raw amber, which will melt

against skin if you press its grains there long enough.