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Venus

 
Venus is reclining, and she knows.
It won't be long before they come to devour her.
But she sees the hunger,
And she waits.
She wants them. 
Those men wrapped in fantasies
Of sea foam and gilded fish. 
Because they whisper,
Venus,
Say it.
Venus,
Louder.
Venus,
 
Until she commands them to stop.
 
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In 2016, friend and poet James Wojtal asked me to collaborate with him and composer Andrew Perricone to create a multimedia art experience based on a collection of his poems. The result was the exhibition VENUS, funded by a Horn Gallery Grant.

Over the course of a year, the three of us had the creative pleasure of growing from one another's ideas and mediums. The poems originated as an expression of personal trauma filtered through the lens of Wojtal's fascination with classical mythology, and the ensuing music and artwork came to center around the themes of sexuality, both as a source of power and terror, and violence, including self-harm, as experienced in the dark and potent world of mythical heroines. Ultimately, I hoped for my contribution of visual art to have healing potential, stressing love for one's own imperfect body, the beauty in masculine vulnerability, and artmaking as an outlet for overcoming suffering.

James was unflinchingly open about his own history of survival, and allowed himself to be photographed nude with great bravery. In their final form, I printed the resulting images and hand-wrote the poems over them. Finally, he and Andrew assisted me, using razor blades, in symbolically cutting and reassembling the prints. 

Aphros

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hair entwined in his fingers

and the taste of foam on his lips

 

i am born to the ocean, a pulpy mess of sinew and muscle

razors on the edge of the water, ready to cut

 

my birth of castration, thrown out of the sky

while milky froth holds my head underwater

 

as his fingers inch up my thighs, open my legs

i bend over and gasp, cough, atop the jagged rocks

 

they drag me ashore by my long, tangled hair,

the air is salty from the ocean, or maybe my bleeding tongue

 

they set me atop the altar, till i start to weep or,

i spread my buttocks; bloody, and ready to perform.

 

The ache,

pushes past soft white stone.

The burn,

tickles the throat,

her neck bent in reverence. 

The pain of desire,

burning, scraping,

traveling up a curved spin,

Makes the cold armless form

convulse,

awaken. 

 

Overbite

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I go down to the watering hole,

Observe lily pads,

Fat in the sun

And the wading birds

With their stick-thin legs.

 

The heavy air weighs down, humid

 

We try to breathe.

 

He waits for his prey,

Clumsy, inexperienced, but men

Are always dangerous.

 

He pulls my body closer to his.

I let myself get dragged

Through the tangle of vines,

The murky water settles

Once I pass.

 

He has hooked me with

Curved teeth, like a crocodile.

His mouth is over mine.

 

As he reaches out his hand,

I rub myself against him

Trying to slough off my skin,

Pull it back and pick out the fibers.

Gnaw at it until the hunger fades. 

It is easy for me to cup his face in my hands.

But as he draws me in, my knees parting his thighs

Our stomachs, grazing each other's lightly

Our crotches, grinding, melding

I whisper to him, "I do not know how to live without hurting myself.

 

 

 

Midnight

 

Please.

I Bleed.

 

Trickle down my leg.

 

Stumbling across the street,

 

Feet shredded,

  glass strewn.

I'm your first.

 

  You seem me, standing there.

Visions of the sharp silver

  You rush to clothe me,

Swirling ocean - They end with

  Please. Just bring me inside.

A sharp crack at the back of the head.

  and you get to see the

 

Bright white form

on a seashell.

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Hetairai

 

Leda

After a flurry of white feathers,

The snap of his bill,

  My mother relented

  As is the fate of beautiful women.

 

And thus I am born of an egg,

Woven from smooth, golden skin, long dark eyelashes.

 

Everyday, as the hours teased her,

Pulled her hair,

The walls groped her legs, her breasts,

She prayed I would not be beautiful.

 

 

Soft like crimson,

He pours it down my throat.

It's hard not to choke

On the wine of a goddess.

 

Back arching and fingers curling,

I reach up and cry to her,

As he pulls me down,

And sits upon my chest

 

I recoil from sacred duty,

And yet she asks of me to

Stay silent, remain still.

I will linger for as long as it takes

 

And cry out:

  “Ἀφρόδιτα, μή μ' ἄσαισι μηδ' ὀνίαισι δάμνα, πότνια, θῦμον!”

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Salt Shaker

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The light keeps flickering

His eyes itch, burning.

He pushes it out.

 

No one watching can see

The tears coursing

Down a clear path on his face,

Only the water dripping from the showerhead,

The full moon is waning,

Laughing at him through the window.

Angry, he grips tighter,

Hate making it harder to finish.

 

Outside, it's too dark

For him to see us,

Panting.

Red lips escape his mouth,

Now. He releases,

To tears.

He impregnates the bathtub,

And he knows we're watching him.

He's going to get someone

To touch him.

Danae

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He guides me toward the light.

Hands shoot through my chest.

He knocks the wind from me

And I fall into the box.

It's small.

My neck curves toward him.

I am anointed with soft gold and ultraviolet.