Literary Yard

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‘Final Edit’ and other poems by Stacey Z Lawrence

By: Stacey Z Lawrence


for Jamal Khashoggi

She waits
down the street from the Mövenpick
Istanbulis love cinema
as foreigners carve and slice him
first into slabs, then manageable portions.
Hard men
clad in blue denim, Italian loafers and
diplomatic immunity-
imported bonesaw, electric defibrillator
and staple guns
loyal to acting-king and country
they arrange
and bone
across a multiplicity of
black plastic bags,
red circles on
a twister mat,
inside the cookie-cutter
ottoman mansion, on the doors
swords crossed-
where citizens seek
asylum from men like these-
daytrippers assemble the
to deposit into
discrete vats of hydrofluoric
and pour the
meddlesome pundit

she waits



That first night we sleep side by side
soft grey couch, television on
background noise to distract us.
Sweating, I wake midway through
a dark night to static and
press bare knees to my chest
tiptoe to the kitchen, grab a bottle
uncork and sniff, search for a glass
and pour, hands shake
dry floral hues tickle my throat as
I lean on the cluttered counter
and try to ignore that he
suffers in the next room.
Aimless, I saunter barefoot on linoleum
reading recipe cards, yank open
a drawer, stack pens in piles,
alphabetize the spice rack,
anise, basil, cloves
scrub a burnt pot until my fingers are
raw and take another gulp.
The room is hazy and quiet, as
I tune out the fizzle of
late talking heads
into dawn.



First symptom-
BMW, big and black, crunched hood
(she keeps crashing)
parked across the street
close enough

she inserts herself
my oak door
Our home is silent
but for the wheeze of
oxygen, a clogged vent.

She flashes
a bag of goods, her ticket for entry,
fruit drinks
into MY kitchen
1 September 1939
flings open

my fridge, deposits
Whole Foods products
struts into his study

and shuts their door.



The jar says tips for girls
the girls are old,
round & Russian
thick sexy accents
Borscht with Sour Cream.

Poured into fitted jeans
gems mounted on rear pockets,
hunched over worn countertops
they sweep butter across

bread, fling beads of
sweat with dingy sleeves.
August in Jersey,
both ovens blasting.

Blushing, I drop a dollar,
she grants me a nod
as her colleague hands me a present,
wrapped in parchment.



His tongue tenses
between his lips as
he runs his pen across paper, hunched
a neuroscientist over some
instrument. At work,
he reverts
clever boyishness
varying shades of lead and Pantone,
vicious politics, clarion calls
secreted in speech balloons floating
from scratchy lips and empty minds,
caricatures of those we love
to hate, it is him
we rely upon to lampoon
them, so he indulges, stretching The First,
graphite on Bristol board, CMYK, 300 dpi
But when he colors outside
the line, even a tiny bit,
we squirm
we whine
we scratch him out,


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