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in case


I carried a clit, in case.

in case it wasn’t rape.

in case the kiss was your lovely. in case, you suck a sore

bruise, too. in case you were steady. your hand was steady.

in case you could talk. I carried a clit, and a wrist in case—

in case I could rub away seam, and you could rinse hem, and we could

stand upright in tubs, muddy like a ledge. in case you could

hear. me, in case I could pick up both feet

on command, and carry through beds, and

keep my hair out of houses, in

and out of houses. in case the rooms full of

leaves and nightstands where

the drink is sweet. and a schoolyard out the

window, and in case the flagpoles

were empty. in case I could hear

sheets flap, like

a punch in the thigh.


One punches thigh open, another

writes script. pens

white gown and white banner and white sheet and white

cover and dove. and white birch. and parchment. and white

cinder and slab brick. white ash of punched cunt, white follicles


and we were not winter. all dark and thick and full of mouth.


We were not wonder. all dark and thick. our mouths

got us kicked. you ask a princ-

ipal, a counselor, the man in the room. our mouths

got us running, soup water from se-

wers, and gentler weather keeps chicks. our mouths

got us full to black rim. to red blather, to-

ward trouble, a generous flight of stairs. our mouths

got us hissed ridiculous. you ask a sham-

an, his snake of women, his clavicle stick. our mouths

got us our bitter ass whipped, pick our own-

ers, our switches, our licks, our shut up. our shut up. our shut up.

from play deadFind more by francine j. harris at the library

Copyright © 2016 francine j. harris
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in francine j. harris Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.