Every bottle is filled with blood.
Like a Stoker-drawn mother, you
drain the thick fluid under the cover
of darkness, leave the empty containers
littered across the hardwood floor.
You sleep late. Your daughter wakes.
She opens her own veins
without complaint, spends the day
dripping fresh iron into each bottle,
watching translucent glass transform
into opacity, viscous maroon. Everything
is bloodied, everything is blood. Your
daughter's body is spattered along the walls,
an unconscious lump slumped in the corner.
You don't notice her there.
You swallow a clot, something
that almost staunched her bleeding.
It feels good sliding
down your throat.
The walls of the house are drenched
in boiling blood. Melting. Outside,
meteors shaped like mother’s skull
crash into the vodka-filled vat of the the earth.
The stars have fallen out of the sky.
In space, she orbits an empty bottle
and a floating faucet called God, one that leaks
thick liquid psychosis.
The world is ending
and there is only the one bitter divinity.
The daughter doesn’t pray.
Family portrait framed in gold:
Lipstick virgin’s blood-
colored kiss runs in the mitochondria, all
mother. All smothered by the mother
before. Spirits inside the
still-living, echoes and old perfume.
Glass bottle broken, teeth
coated in maroon. The smell of
it is everywhere. Women upon
women choking on ghostly fumes.
OPEN LETTER TO MY FATHER
I have asked for you and been gifted silence
I have pulled out each of my teeth, one by one
wrapped them in beautiful boxes as birthday presents to you,
so every year it becomes more difficult for me to speak,
like a child aging backwards, the tongue increasingly clumsy,
the words garbled, the air between us growing as still as space,
where sound waves have no medium in which to travel
I have tried to drag the words out of you,
have cast fishing lines down your throat and caught nothing
but “okay”s and “see ya”s, once or twice a rare “love you” and
even then half-hearted, even then punctured, even then
nearly impossible for my bony arms to reel in
When did you become so quiet, father? Has your voice
been captured, held hostage by apathy or anger or fear?
Has mine been taken, too?
Are our vocal chords elsewhere, disembodied
but in the middle of a lively conversation about books or traffic tickets
or films or politics or parents or pets or problems or anything,
Is there a world where we hug like we mean it,
where I get to keep my teeth and give you guitar picks instead?
Are we speaking, somewhere?
Caris Allen's work has previously been featured in The North Texas Review, The Hunger Journal, Riggwelter Press, Dirty Paws Poetry Review, and more. She currently lives in North Texas with her partner and their bearded dragon, Mosey.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.