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by Jessica Khailo




Our pain wants us to love them,

burrowed deep between our eyes,

spiked tails thrashing with synaptic fury.

“Notice me, mother,” it whispers

while I crash through all my mirrors,

sloughing off my silhouette,

whose calcination triggers clinging

to its substrate. Dissolution

sustains itself with writhing,

but it ends.


The serpent, too, has cried us out

and watched us die a billion deaths

through countless mythic cycles.

So we think that maybe, if we spoke

in softer tones, and didn’t cause a fuss,

she’d feel obliged to love us.

She’d call forth the golgi apparatus

to guide us through her fiery membrane.

But the mother fears shrinking;

She wants to exist.


Pray on it, darling.

This stone in the vestibule,

the archons won’t move for you.

It must be dissolved, absorbed by the body

with crying so purple, delirious, primordial,

your blood is flushed with oxytocin

and your swollen breasts let down

their prismatic, opal fountains.

Cradle this colicky genesis

and let it kill its mother.

(*This poem was first published in Door = Jar magazine, issue 26, Spring 2023)

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