Bernadette McComish

Terror

I want to escape
the fear
of failing at love

again. I made
a spreadsheet to calculate
the risk of you. Ones

and zeros next to each
attribute, a functional equation
finding the fracture

in your armor of black
silk and silver chain.
Found nothing conclusive.

I woke without you
turned the sky gray
this week. Someone

scratching through
the wall last night
kept me up.

We didn’t meet
on a dark star
or in a vast universe

but in an underworld
of Los Angeles, in a castle under
construction.

Your demon made it rain
fire so I could find you
from the top of the tower

and I fell from a graceless
elevator into your long fingers.
I’ve been catching ghosts

in my free time.
They wouldn’t stay
until I told them

prophecy, the one of you
in a casket. I am gray, looking
down on your death,

a portrait of us
above, your back to the artist.

I want to bury
my hands in the soil
of your skin

find home in the small
of your back, run
my nails down

your neck, breathe
dried flower songs.
Your tattoo ink stamped

a four-chambered heart
on my ass. Bone
to bone let’s be honest—

I’ve been broken, burned,
abandoned in a galaxy

on a dead planet
you found me.

Now, I get up before dawn dig
graves for the street signs stolen
to keep anyone from following.

 

 

 

Bernadette McComish holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence, and an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from Hunter. She writes poems that explore parallel realms where fortunetellers work as cashiers, and ghosts ride subways underwater singing Shakespeare. Her poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Deluge, Flapperhouse, Hospital Drive, Slipstream, Storyscape, Flypaper Magazine, Peregrine, and she was a finalist for the New Millennium Writers 41st poetry prize. Her chapbook ‘The Book of Johns,’ was published in 2018 by Dancing Girls Press. She teaches High School in Los Angeles, and performs and produces for The Poetry Society of New York making poetry accessible to everyone.

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