07 10 / 2011

by Rachel K. Zall

I want the Earth to be on fire but instead the Earth
is just fine and it’s me making that crackling noise, me
turning red at the edges, then black, ash
dropping from my corners as the Earth
turns indifferently past and I can’t help
but wonder
why nothing around me will catch

At seventeen I planted evil everywhere I went, hoping
to perish by the breath of G-d, but She knew
it would be worse to hold Her breath and I had to
do my own breathing
instead

but I never learned how

I knew that oxygen would keep a flame from going
hungry, that in the age of the auto combustion
equals movement, but the delicate balances
of chemistry never suited me, and the first time
I turned the key in the ignition instead of
starting, my body swelled with flames — I panicked —
I could not put the fire out — I couldn’t
snuff it and everything
was burnt, everything
was destroyed and it was still

not enough
for Him to spare me
an annihilating breath

I have been dropping ash for ten years now:
wherever I go, I litter the Earth

(from New Problems)

07 10 / 2011

by Rachel K. Zall

(for SRV)


Still answering questions
about Selective
Service, even though
if there was a draft
your cock and
your breasts would disqualify you:

even with all
the bodies they need
for this busy season
of wars, yours
will never
be useful.

Where is your body useful?

On the internet, where you’re always welcome
in the places where men file in
to stare though what they think
is your keyhole at what they think
your body is.

In a classroom, where you belong
at the head of the class
displayed on a table
as students file in to write papers
about what they think
your body is.

In the movies, where you always have a place
on a streetcorner, then a slab
to make a neighborhood look filthy
for being home
to what they think
your body is.

In a room, curling like a vine
into a body that looks
a little like yours
asking your lover politely, sweetly
to share with you
exactly what her body is.