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Michelle Bonczek Evory

This Piece of Art is Not a Dress

It is her body, the back opening

one layer at a time. See how

              she lets you

in. So trusting is she she lets you

tie her paper hands down. How delicate

her eyes refusing to meet yours.

It is her way of pleading with you

to take her hair and twist it

around your fist until her face crumples,

to lick her neck until it sticks to your tongue

like a stamp, to run your thickest

finger down her hip edge until you figure

out what she is. You press your knee

              to her pelvis wishing

it would rip. You push your fingers

against her sternum, until she gives.


I have been friends with myself 

now for a few years and I have liked

myself 154 times to be exact, mostly

on early-cycle days. After unfriending 

myself in my late teens, and again 

in my early thirties, I’ve come to accept 

my differences in opinion, scroll past 

do not pass go straight to jail, post 

bail, and move on. Sip sweet tea 

in Virginia and Tennessee, buy some

new shoes on Madison and wear them 

out on Park before tossing them

in the back seat of my silver car

to walk barefoot on Boardwalk. Clearly,

this isn’t Atlantic City. No casinos

or towers. No boats on the horizon 

or fishermen casting lines into a barren

sea. No funnel cake, no cotton candy,

no saltwater taffy. In fact, the beach 

is bare—sand and stinging jelly dried 

into crisp strings. Just me, the love note 

I tossed to the ocean as a child washes 

on shore to my feet. It’s a love letter 

to myself. I like the waves. It’s how I roll. 


A bug inside a wide mouth jar yells 

loud as a cloud. And it rains, of course. 

And it pours its heart out, this bug,

like a stock pot the size of the world 

gurgling all the earth’s gizzards and goo. 

The Milky Way throws a shoe and it lands 

in the bog where a tree frog leaps this year’s 

desire, swims from one swimmy to the next, 

hungry for something more than flies. 

He leaps for lungs. He sings for slimy joy. 

This is a world of lies, French fries, and ply-

wood, all of which are recyclable, though 

no one tries anymore to save the world. 

Now it’s time to save the planet, its moon 

men, garbage flies lying dead at the base 

of the Brooklyn Bridge. They must’ve leapt. 

Don’t let the fish cakes fool you. Let them go.

The fish cakes. Let them go goodbye down 

the Hudson. Goodbye. That dusty bottle of wine, 

cork on the counter, is turning against you 

while you’re busy changing tires, which 

by the way, are not recyclable. Yet we keep on 

rolling and reeling in fish after fish after fish 

as if something about this isn’t fishy. It’s not 

funny that they come in a can. The dolphins 

aren’t laughing. Crickets are playing their legs 

in silky darkness getting paid money, money, 

money. Oh overworked, nervous cricket, will it 

ever be Labor Day, or Memorial Day? Which one 

is in May? Thank the dead for days off, thank 

your mother for all those glasses of juice, thank 

God for frog’s legs fried in pig fat, wrapped 

in bacon. For each sweet cake and candle, 

for every card, stocking, and paper 

cut, for cool air in the blue basement where 

the red furnace blasts heat to the sky, which we, 

while we’re at it, might as well convince ourselves 

and the kids—is where stars come from, 

and where we go when we die.

Table for Two

I am what I am: a runaway 

            menu of forbidden fruits: 

screaming kiwi: 

            bleeding apple: 

grapevine tempting you

            with fermented sugar. But you 

must be patient, join me 

            in the garden of fetishes 

where French radishes grow 

            two feet long. Where avocados

so creamy darken under their own skin.

            Here there are no bills

you cannot pay, no questions you cannot

            answer. You will come. 

We will glide. Let me help you 

            forget your addictions, your weakness.

We will tie them up with scarves,

            swing their legs wide open, pierce

them till they sing. We will play 

            like children who roam their town 

at night, wild as kittens purring 

            in the grasses, fingering the shadows,

licking at the light. 


These dining room seats have been empty 

all year. The salt shakers untouched, the dust 

and crumbs of conversations past 

sanding the wood, half 

the table a pile of unpaid bills and unrenewed 

subscriptions.  Silence droops 

like the cobwebs collapsing in unreachable corners, 

walls yellowing those nights oh can you remember 

the sound of his keys 

rattling the front door open

to spring air and rain, the cardinals perched

in the flowering trees, your muscles

quivering, the cinnamon candles flickering

from the gust of him, the you back then

lifting out from yourself, flitting across the room 

to welcome him home. 

He zips his boots.  His keys clink before he closes 

the door, softly, now 

his engine, the new snow, his marks, 

then the pulling away.  

Michelle Bonczek Evory is the author of The Ghosts of Lost Animals, winner of the Barry Spacks Poetry Prize and a 2021 Independent Publishers Book Award. Her Open SUNY Textbook Naming the Unnamable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations is taught in creative writing courses throughout the country. She mentors poets at The Poet’s Billow and can be found at

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