Erin Slaughter



The punchline of a joke I wish I didn’t have
to make about siphoning pieces of yourself in an
undiscerning creature’s mouth vacancy
  bruises like an itch & oh Florida you idyllic wasteland

of tile & fear & lime you fester
with what is ancient & visceral in its hope
  & cannot be trusted

I wish I had some offering whole as wheatstone
as tablecloths as a warm friendly chest to pass out drunk into
but I was blessed to be born
  woman & southern, my every breath an apology


I once thought I created my own hell & dug my body out

but when the only impulse
is to run
  to the rooftop pool in the sweltering city dark sometimes

what a stranger might call sacrifice is embracing
the thankless bramble, sometimes what wants to rot you
  feels the most like home


There is something biblical & masochistic
about pinning your life to a place
where no one with choices has to live but we must hope
  the heat will burn something out of us that needs burning

If what you are deserving of is only
what you cannot ever have it’s a kind of worship to be silent
  in the tangle, sprout a thorn or two yourself


I have split my gums praying to the god of trajectory

I am looking now for someone
  who will hurt me in the ways I desire to be hurt


Brushfire we were then standing on the porch,
whatever I said, I was lying. It was April & easy
  to imagine a brightness I could abandon

for tunnels of snow, a future without blood

brewing up its own rageful pollen
  & all the humming, wood-boring bees

Erin Slaughter is editor and co-founder of literary journal The Hunger, and the author of two chapbooks: GIRLFIRE (dancing girl press, 2018) and Elegy for the Body (Slash Pine Press, 2017). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, Split Lip Magazine, Passages North, and elsewhere. Originally from north Texas, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from New Rivers Press in 2019. You can find her online at

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