Sunday Sep 22

Monica-Mankin Monica Mankin, M.F.A., lives in Southern California and hopes to continue teaching writing for the University Writing Program at UC Riverside. Some days she'd like to live in Venice, Italy, but after two-and-a-half years of living in the sinking city of New Orleans, she's come to learn she has more fire in her blood than water. She has published poems with Blood Orange Review and Claypalm Review, served as poetry editor for Fugue, written several reviews for The Literary Magazine Review, and written as a freelance correspondent for She is currently working on a chapbook, Garden of the Fugitives.




He must be da Vinci himself, all that kelpish hair
tracing his sleek hiss of spine, full grown throat
for moaning, a half-cracked mouth for sound and air
to escape. Body bared—
urethra, intestines, lungs, heart—
a wholly functional man, made to breed.
Textured, cross-hatched, each organ separate
and pulsing with orgasm, thick muscular curves,
legs on which to stand and press into her—what blind nerves.

His face cloys with its perfectly pointed nose, nostrils even.
Eye wide, proportional, he stares into paper.


She is only torso and breast, shoulders and head loosed
into white space and cursive, pencil lines, a diagram
for him to enter. Blood
has no place in her to flow.
She is air in an insect jar, staling, invisible,
necessary. Effaced with words
she will never read, speak, or hear,
she is taken in a papered silence—no ovaries, no uterus.
Her abdomen tilts like an uninhabited planet—far off, featureless.

To be her, leaning hard against this body
she never saw coming—what luck to be heartless too.


To hell with you. Like the hummingbird, you never still.
You swerve from cactus bud to the voluptuous rose
and roll like jet planes that soar above, invisible,

rattling my windowpane reflection, as if you know
I am only as real and solid as the glass that mirrors my face.
To hell with your slow and steady gathering like snow

against my heart, your overgrown white-flower weeds like lace
throughout my yard, your apple-meat sun that coaxes the fruit
to sweeten, to rot. If you were someone, I might steal your gaze.

I might feed you fruit and pick you flowers fresh and wet with dew.
I might shake the snow from my heart – but never, like a stupid lover,
tell you how I want you to need me so much more than I need you.


A breeze comes through the broken windows,
and the stink of death makes us lithe

to bury our faces between each other’s thighs.
Full and stacked, my ass flounces like sacks of trash

those weeks ago we flung to the curb.
You come like a dog to a writhing, fetid heap,

hungry enough to eat whatever his snout unearths:
the feasting black flies, the mealworms in the flour

they’ve loused, the soured milk, and meatless ribs
that glisten with aspic decay.

We sway, and to our plastic mattress drop
like storm-felled trees, all limbs and live wires

amid our ruin of hardwood and mold—that jet,
pubescent fuzz that climbs the walls for sky,

intent to suckle the areolas of stars made perky
by night’s sweaty touch. It’s not so bad,

our candlelight refuge, the way you move
like an awning caught in the wind—slapping, slapping,

collapsing hard against my body’s stoop. You sputter
like a waterlogged car, and I, its punctured tire, hiss.

Who are we fooling? As if we could ride each other
out of here to a clean shoreline, where cockroaches

don’t hump like sluts and I am not the mutt
panting at your ear. But we’ve nothing left.

What now? Our bodies, a lingering fruit fly,
that overripe scent of self that makes us lithe to die.