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by Jessica Khailo

It rose with curled claws

and cluttered clamor,

out from leaded glass

with the likeness of lizards and lawmen.

The Great Manipulator,

a magpie for mad machinations

and making mistakes.

A callous clown for keeping count,

collecting capital,

killing my kindness.


“Recoil,” it resounded,

astounded I’d reach for redemption

and laugh at its labors to lead me.

Shocked such a small girl, invoking her Lilith,

should lift the liar Leviathan tenderly into her lips

and let him linger like a soured amber liquor

in the pink of her liver.


This cirrhosis, her Slow Kindness,

is softer than swords when the cords can’t be cut

without wilting the dew-whetted flowers

we’ll worship come winter.

But, my dear demon,

I don’t have to be drunk to destroy myself

and no petty python can pry from my jaw

the promises made in my ecstasy.

Feel into my folds with your frenzied fingertips,

but don’t dare forget:

I’d fuck you before I’d forgive.

(*This poem was originally published in:  The Quarter(ly), Vol. V: Burn This Fucker Down, 2023)

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