Issue 19








Valerie Witte









and we

were closely









To start at the beginning, a word | such as wool | Eruption, as its name

medical dressings, sleeping bag covers, a trench

of maps: these can be greased to float | for fishing

follicles replenish quicker, precision in casting

tapers, in water | What

things children say | the first hydrogen balloon sealed, more sharply

defined than clipping | resistant to rubber and dust | tables

of fares, almanacs | (Remember what sticks and stones can do) |

silks for lampshades easily

stained are apt to be rent at the seams in yarns | Scarred | And they
called her







As an open flame a tissue of memories unfolding | Allegedly, what she

as common | we try treating the wounded then model a creature caught

with a rod | of anglers | Even then she understood the implication

of oils—avocado, wheat germ, hazelnut, carrot | spreading

defective cocoons blackened | though burning

was an uncommon injury, thick and multiple | Just a gradual trauma,

to get worked up over | collapsed then inflamed glass a fissure | To

a new skin | & if we disappeared permanently using razors or thorns, an

elongating slowly from water a weeding | (Use only as directed) |







In spots destroying proportions, the fabric

weakened joints | Scatter light, pressed; the cells fell

away | to deteriorate fingerlike a barrier encircling

vegetable matter | Against her forehead, acid brushed | the degree

of ulceration when scraped, we guard the delicate

dimensions of our poor eggs | And soothing, a current

to calm, a deceptive salve | in rupture, delivery | But then burning was

than breaking | the way twigs buckle and bubble, when struck | blood

learning to decompose yet forging | Here

the most transactions, mediated | a pocket or pouch filled with fluid,

a node | to be oxidized, clearing | Just be sure to stay out of the sun |







If oil and straw | hats trapped, or bands from glue peeling | She could
not see

her own face, the space between expressions | and we are watched

closely | Under a lamp | hands around a foreign object and other

appendages | A severing | if risk of defect | & she marveled at

though it pained her | a doctor to follow | vow abstinence irrelevant the

of crystals yet a small plug stuck decreases

the damage | Of self | removing the dead sensitive and bristle tips |

a single strand spun | Would she ever stop

breaking | to abrade less deeply, drainage | In rubbing

she lost all the dried blood |







When we cannot predict or begin | to disappear | ceding

to our bodies’ limitations | sweat collects in ducts

of the chest | an icepick: superficial or suicide rolling

and angular diminishing at the site of blockages | on the temple

and cheeks an overabundance of scar enlarges | To track the origin of
instinct, wanting

a hindrance | when we are opened or closed naturally disordered

to perpetuate the life-cycle or adapting to abnormal shedding | as a nest
or wintering

when a controlled illumination without slipping | A harm:

in holding, to encourage nursing

stress dwarfism, mothering | of badly perforated, attended

with pain of falling away | the cells from which the hair grows | in
linings a phase too

early | she was we are all receding |







To induce oxygen, killing | intense pulses carried a mutant allele a thin

sheet of dead | Cystic and deep, pitted infancy an extraordinary form

of sorting | in new locations to which our skin is poorly conditioned

our immigrant selves manifest endings

covered with flecks of melanin | we are effectively

hairless involuntarily | vibrations in a cluster | Essentially

the skin sloughed off and sometimes | lesions composed of water, salts
if occasional

nosebleeds | reports of permanent impairment unsubstantiated

and routine testing if women | close medical supervision |

Slight friction ridges, literally finger writing: the oldest skin |













A native St. Louisan, Valerie Witte received her MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco.  Her work has appeared in various journals such as Barrow Street, VOLT, Interim and Letterbox.  Her first chapbook, The History of Mining, was published by the ge collective in 2013.  She is a member of Kelsey Street Press and the Bay Area Correspondence School.  Poems from her manuscript, Flood Diary, are currently on display in book form at the Quotidiaen exhibit at Celery Space gallery in Berkeley.  Other recent projects have explored such topics as a future Earth’s prosthetic nature and the evolution of human skin.  Valerie Witte is online at ValerieWitte.com



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