Louise Mathias

Twentynine Palms

For the days when beauty was elsewhere.
Someone beats off

in the trailer, it’s the stellar white dream:
cocaine and long stemmed brides.

Always, you must focus on the sky. Bougainvillea
mutely moving like a stain, a young girl

peeing in the pool.

Is that what you wanted? Subtle? The lukewarm
politics of someone else’s marriage?

Nicelle Davis

Written in the Margins of, How to Turn Siren Scream to Song


It is cool. And I am tired.
Too tired to
start a fire, so I boil water.

If you were actually my
son, I would
not tell you such things—

but you are in the care of
another, so I tell
you everything. I met you

when I fist saw your father.
Odd. Yes. But how
else to explain—I broke his

ribs with the ease of cracking
open an egg. Best
night of sex I ever had. And

then you were in me. Now
it all seems
so practical, but at the time

I had mistaken vulnerability
for love. Sometime
your Dad would say he loved

me. I mistook his words for
a house, garden,
and the sound of your feet

down a hallway, frightened
by a storm,
your little self made quiet by

the heat under our family
quilt. I live all
of this, in my head. How

to tell you, No one can know
the extent of another’s loss. I
stir my tea and hear your feet.

Louise Mathias

Four Drives in the Heart of the Desert

Went out to the edge of my life. Tumbled soft,
by wind and by sun, by ocean, by elsewhere, Anza

Less of a schism

between man and sky; less democracy really.

Remembered the terrible theatre

of the rental car, that summer, my father
turning slowly into lava. This is the country

they say, where no one can live. Shed it

like shale. Where stars will refuse

to fasten themselves to the sky,
will stream down in contrails

& stammer.

Nicelle Davis

Written in the Margins of The Recipe for Sirens


For convenience, they had me birth you
in a common house—thin white walls
blocking sight, but not the sound of mouths
coming up from wombs. I heard your first

cry, as though it were waves on a shore at
night—pitch black, but present. They took
you and left me with a rag full of ice—told
me to rest until I needn’t rest. I refused to lie

down. Looking for you, I woke in a gutter
holding a goat. A joke. Blood on my thighs,
I walked home with the animal. With a knife
to the billy, I tried to bleed out the past—to

empty the memory of your elbow rolling
beneath me—I tried to forget how it felt
to be two doors hinged atop each other—
to be pulse upon pulse.

Nicelle Davis

Circe Reads from, The Recipe for Sirens

The body is two doors hinged atop each other, designed
to swing in opposite directions. To change someone, you
must enter from their back—keyhole below left ribcage—
tickles a bit—unlocking. Inside, use a bird for a needle—

embroider the face of starvation over the peephole, then
exit from the front. Surface to a world where fish sprout
wings and appetites for harm; let them suck marrow from
a man’s center—drown them in fat. If they beg for mercy—

try to be patient—most can’t see you have already given
the what they ask. To remedy the inconvenience of sound,
we recommend turning siren screams into song (See page 7).