Mary Carroll-Hackett took the MFA in Literature & Writing from Bennington College. Her work has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, Praxilla and Drunken Boat, among numerous others. Her collection of prose poems, The Real Politics of Lipstick, was released in August 2010 as the winner of the 2010 Slipstream Press Poetry competition, and she has another forthcoming, Animal Soul, from Kattywompus Press. She teaches Creative Writing at Longwood University where she also edits The Dos Passos Review, administers the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry, and edits SPACES, an online journal of art and literature.
This Bread, Those Beans
This bread, those beans, the meat you slice and feed to me from the shining point of your knife, lean and charred, it slips between my lips to my tongue, salted as generations of hard men sweating up through you. I cannot lift my fingers; they linger, curled to cups in my lap. I cannot raise my eyes higher than the square ride of your man's hips, buttocks fitted for horse, for hides, for snow-dead winters of bearing what men know: that work fills the rough ache of empty hands, that fear resides in blood and bone, and redemption hides in the small of a lover's back, that the lack of a woman's touch will break the strongest man, stone to ash, oak to tinder. Your thumb traces the points of my teeth. The gifts you bring—blanket, beef—on the table between us, this, we both know, is surrender, its form wide and old as sky. I take your knife from your fist, and press its curved cold blade against my thigh, until it warms.
Would Houdini have cared for pyrosequencing, nanopore technology laying bare the base illusion, genomes sequenced there, as scraped and raw as epithelial from a liquid tongue, a life undone, completely? Would he have offered up his sperm or spit to get to that final answer, to learn how Sturtevant's magic worked, that twist and tangled angling of the plan, this making of man, snipped his own hair, piece by readable piece? As, Ts, Cs and Gs—suppose the design and region, propose to give us what Harry sought, the ultimate reveal. But no map can mark the impossible worlds seen through a pale gypsy eye, the story and ancient why for the shovel-shaped tooth or finger curved to palm with lust or fear, the filled-to-burst heart, the come here linger of blood in thinning veins, no sequence the slow burn of violin strings on skin, the begin and begin again, that child to man to star bursting, like Houdini into history, the shredding of science into human, into mystery.
Six Rules for Devils
Emerge where the sand has little salt, in times when gods are forgiven, and bind those you find sweetly, for they twist themselves so much more than we can do, tearing their own skin away from the rashness of knowing. Give them warning, even if they won't listen, their minds too swollen with the wanting of grace. Avoid Gadarenes. You'll not do well there. But do not let them sleep; teach them the beauty of burning, that passion is the taste of their own plum souls.