Alexandria Petrassi


on the deep distrust of duality


I.     out

 she’s sitting on the counter

cloven pomegranate in hand

one-hundred bloodshot eyes

gleam in the sticky light from the oven



she selects a seed     places it on her tongue

closes her flinch lips around the fingers


there’s a tree out back saw lightning in itself

braided the bolt into its bark every vein woven



they cut that tree down       said it was wicked

said    bi     is only another word for glutton


she braids her wrist with mine

ovenbreath licks the beaded fruit in our hand


shin bones twine     four thighs waver and melt

we crackle where she threads me


we select a seed     pry apart my teeth

let the fruit fall in a shower of claret and manic light

do not speak     do not ward her off     do not close the oven door

and leave me aching on this counter




II.     in

cigarette smoke bends the bartender’s face         i don’t see him

men watching me watch                                      women swing step

stoneblue in the light                                           dripping rose cherries chestnuts


softly snatch a peach from the glow                    can i snatch a peach can i can i


offer it to the man nearest me                             leave behind

the ghost of pomegranate seeds




Dear Galaxy —


the moment i realized i’d never seen you

i booked a trip to the darkest place i could find


didn’t i know the man on the moon drowned in the lunar maria

long ago? now old moon is in new moon’s arms


your arms and i am no more human tonight than the last or the last or the last      constellations of earth


shine from my notebook pages and all this time i cried for something bigger


never saw the white band of dust blanket the horizon

never saw home in your halos. my god      how many people


have we sent to the stars? some far atom stirred within me and I saw them torso limb      snout   throat                                       and belt


dog days heavy now that they have a name:

sun-snatched sirius whining to be let out into the sky


bear and bear-son wait for boötes to decide if he

is hunter or protector or something we never made him


to be and draco is still the celestial pole in some world

not ours about four-thousand years ago      it’s all happening


right now for you and i’m still so many hundreds of blood     blue harvest   hunter  hungry moons away. i’ll be home


one day but until then i’ll watch the dust creep into the windows until i lose you in the great rift      the coalsack   and the everything


that was created between us          shuttle:satellite:debris means exile




Great American Nude #88

 after Tom Wesselmann


my skin is kept nude as a color that’s told to be nude

but porcelain means private.


puberty was about making mounds into mountains but

mother told me it’s a space to be put away, to be trotted out

for his birthday his work days never sundays

plated in white silk sheets garnished with black lace     red lace    stockings


the air presses its cold nose against me I am stiffening, but not allowed to say so.

Stiff outside the mouth of a woman is synonymous with threat.

I am dutiful      expectant     open


he asks me to pry my thighs apart

to save him the trouble

he asks me to raise my legs

to get the blood flowing in the right direction

he asks me to call it cunt            snatch   slit

to use words that beg for him

he asks me not to be a dead fish

to flop and gasp for air like I want the hook

he asks me to get wet

to give him a tang of salt

asks me to open my mouth

to show him teeth so white they are one bone

asks me to stop being body

to be American landscape

to call his cock manifest destiny


to confirm his narrative: he had a strange sense of love 

and battle never gave him enough…

yes yes yes

and yet


he looks past me and sees a horizon my mouth becomes a siren

his manifest destiny becomes a mast his body becomes a ship

my body becomes a jagged rock

my body becomes an obstacle to open waters


I close my eyes      think about be

coming the world that was promised to him




The Ship

 after Omar Ortiz


skin is apple cider in the light bubbles hit the surface and burst

as I run my hand along my calf, divest nylons

let a frothy kick send the whole heap across the room


I settle into a slow fizz on his cherry leather couch

as he begins filling the room


fire sprinklers spit sangria

bathtub floods blood orange juice

soft tomatoes splatter in the sink


couch glides away from the floor merlot waves crash in the distance

he’s content to watch me drift for awhile


until the darkling sea is a threat to us both

in those wine-dark moments he will see

a ship


shore is the finely kept frontier

once unmoored           terror and rapture begin to feel the same reach turns to drape

arms veil my face


think of honey    think of sunlight    think of marigolds  think of cochineal   leather  sour wine       sweat


gale through my walnut hair

razor limbs sink to saltwater taffy       elongate       all the better to float with


breasts licked by copper anticipation

suck of my ribs is both moan and rue

two new shades of red to add to the sea


the waves burn the room       sanguine menace

torsion turns to boat         he embarks


ever the figurehead          I am wooden




Errata: Hotel Room, May 2010


these kiss-bruised lips could be lush waves

in the lavender twilight of the bathroom fluorescents

if they had




heliotrope         trollop        prey


all names you gave me           before you held me under

water       pulled out each tooth and fed


them to your hungry mouth


[when i came back        when i came back          when i              ]

a dark room

liquor on the mantel

sticky fingers


bodies strewn like



if there were only wolves in the room

if i was there

too          then  no knock at the door then you aimlessly tore through me


you’ve been told never to believe

the tears of a woman                              so they mean what you choose


in the wash of distant moments seas away from now

violation croons at my window


[without understanding what kind of animal          i will be after]


Alexandria Petrassi’s work has appeared in The Seldom Review as the first-place poetry and nonfiction winner, The American Writer’s Museum’s blog, as well as Stillhouse Press’s Moonshine Murmurs.

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