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Alyss

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The possessor is desolate without me: a picture:
                a pickpocketing where the pocket is stolen,
its contents left intact. This is almost about
                            something but then not as I shift to another thing:

another picture: little box like a pin cushion but not
                prickly: lacks tacks. Little box exactly like a mouth,
a compiling of probes, a spattering of spits,
                            clunky clever, and spear empire: except I put it

in my hair: hairbrush now as knot of wood,
                measuring time, wildly wound up self-snarl,
compacted single tangle where the tangles transferred,
                            head to head: half-thief: little half-limbs of its teeth

holding my little hoax-limbs forever lost to their host.
                Every morning, every evening, I endure, indurate
the disquieting comfort of unloaded strands littered
                            in the whisk’s incisors: it’s least of all me, this looped

polluted feast, furred pyre (my excesses are animal)
                plentiful but hunkered in its crenellated pit,
silver-plattered skin-lint caked on but not seen.
                            Still, it’s loaded with me not meaning, just look:

the pawn in action: Topical (touch), internalized (touch),
                I tend to you, you tend to me. We get put together,
tethered together: a picture. What possesses who:
                            who possesses what: in ritual, the object owns you.

A bust: in my palm, not a portal, not a blotter,
                but just a handle, anodyne, a small bundle to hold
on to, calm you. Its tracery nonplussed—down-slick
                            of the nestling spikes then an untouched up (little

nest tasked with the build-up of itself)—undrawing
                the drawn-on. Not a dupe, not quite doubling not unless
I say this brush and this brushing press, trammel, cradle
                            wield, arrest like a reliquary its remnants: of mimicry:

of strata: my motions; unless I say the receptacle
                bottles up its fondles, my fist-givings, these filaments.
Ceremonious and amniotic, what’s more maimed
                            than the miracle of birthing worth. Preened moments

aren’t whole if you picture them, take their picture. You take
                a step back—a scalping lacks tact—lacerations are never
exact except in the bull’s eye, the surgical eye, the camera
                            snap. The deeds I do every day are flotsam, off-floating

in a shrill feed of filigreed pictures wherein I forget them
                instantly. I lance them with my half-self, my sequential
objector: yes, to save time, this is about time. It’s about time
                            to say I’m obeisant to my little boxes, my watches,

the numbers that tick on the wall, these shiny tresses.
                I love the clutter of curls. But before you know it: you get
careened into the routine of touch & go: I reach into my
                            pocket for meaning, for something familiar to my finger-

tips, a key or coin, a ready token to momentarily believe in,
                something all core, a discombobulated pearl whose shape
is thorough enough, burrowed well enough for warmth
                            though you don’t have time to fully recognize its round

ness, its balled-up body, so go on, and on with blind findings:
                a picture of a picked pocket is just a pocket: I get ready here
for the metaphor where there is none. Where there is none,
                        I get ready to go and go out and I’m going and (I’m) unraveling

and here I am.


Kristina Martino is a poet and visual artist. She studied at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Some of her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in BOAAT, Third Coast, Bennington Review, and elsewhere. Some of her drawings can be viewed here: www.kristinamartino.com.

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