Erin Slaughter

Self-Portrait as Gomorrah Burning

I never lost virginity, only took virginities

collected them like old pennies

from the tray of a crusted payphone—

I display deflowerings like crystal

balls on the bedside table, let them breathe—


inventory them by weather, season, greed

& now they outnumber the age

I first ransacked thirst,

clothed in lilies I shed my flesh

to absorb another’s—


That’s when I learned that bodies

riot to rise like sea-levels or smoke

but power comes to those

whose knees greet the dirt—


& he’s the kind of beautiful

that makes even God say damn

the kind of skin that hums molasses

the valley of his fist a psalm

his surname rhymes with church

& I want him to praise my body holy

rot me like the walls and floorboards

that gather wildflowers & wilt sideways


My first word was hot, like even then I feared

the blisters daylight kisses onto shoulders—

like my unfastened mouth warned a threnody of girl fire


Erin Slaughter is a Texan, feminist, and human container for pizza and existential angst. After a brief rendezvous with publishing in the Pacific Northwest, she is currently an MFA candidate at Western Kentucky University. You can find her work in The Harpoon Review, The North Texas Review, Emerge Literary Journal, and 101 Words, among others.

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