Five Poems by Amanda Oaks

I Remember You 

I remember you,
your fingers on my back,
caterpillars crawling
across the dirty linoleum floor,
cold air whistling
through aged windows,
the rocking chair on the porch
creaking with each breath
from the sky.
I remember you,
flipping over that rock
& finding a beetle
stuck in the mud on its back,
legs running in place,
so much like a small town bride,
the hem of her dress
gathering water, darkening
her words.
I remember you,
heart made of whiskey,
that water of life
as valuable as gold.
I remember you,
the overturned trucks
in the yard, the rust staining
your cut-off jean shorts
when you would slink
between them
to get to the dirt road
where we would watch
the dust settle
as the cars passed,
twirling wheat stalks
between our fingers
while they hung out of our mouths like tightropes
for anyone but us
to fall off of,

I remember you.
____________

As I Twist I Hold Tight

Drag her through the river
& she’ll come up dry—

she’ll beach herself
before she bows to bare

her swampland chest,
heart-soaked— bandages

dripping, a slow leak,
a roof holding years of weather,

a lamp that shocks the fingers
every time it is turned on,

the proof tucked away,
a rusty key broken-off

in the lock of a drawer
with no knob.

____________

Messages for the Dead

They said you killed him.
Did you?

There’s a bicycle tire.
It’s sticking out of the heart
of a pond.

It waterwheels
when the wind
snakes through its spokes.

You have dirt in your eyes
& dirt in your hair.
Did you know?

There was hurt
& then a siren,
& the things the newspaper
would never say.

There was a pile of afghans
in a dark room
on top of a chair
sitting in a corner
for years
trapping dust

until we shook it all free.

There’s a tree
growing up towards the sun
in a forgotten silo.

Someday
you’ll be able to see her crown
from the road.
____________

You Can’t Hold What I Hold 

There’s a city on my chest,
skyscrapers built of apologies,
guilt— piled in boats
in the river running
by its stadium
hosting the game
of heart vs. brain,

the crowd
had no fuckin’ idea
what is was getting into.

You told me once
that my heavy was easy,
that you spent years
building your arms sturdy for it,

I said, but I was born
to break them down,
love,

there’s nothing easy
about street corners

with busted out streetlights,
or the lonely,
or the high cost of living
with me.
____________

How To Tango 
Demimonde, half-world,
underbelly, rhythm
of a city
brimming
with too many men.

Born
in the shadows,
born
in the streets
& the brothels,
born
out of thirst
for possession,

a marriage
between two bodies
speaking the language
of survival.

Fallen
woman,

streetwise,
had her pick
from the men,

said, this
is how you tango
in a world where

when we leave you

you take
revenge.

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