Two Reasons to Get Off My Shoulder, et al

Two Reasons to Get Off My Shoulder

I. Bar

I was everyother god-ridden feminist choking

up screams of patriarchal bananas and howling

at radio towers and glass phalluses in the wessst.

tearing down posters and sticking up screenprints

hiding from the blue-faced Fuzzy fat-rats misplaced

men who want:

            a. to smile at my sweetie-cat, or

                  b. to stick me upon the top of an incarceration page,

                  take me down for a summons to protect the illegal guerilladvertisements

                  because THEM GOT THE MONEY, and I wont even smile them peace-protectors a little honey.

Screaming at the sleeping lump squishing me into the

sidebars, my bird wing elbows sticky-doors GET–OFF– MY–SHOULDER, MAN [hurtling through train]

He’s off and he’s scared to tell me, scared it’ll break

the idolization cloud I immerse his mind in, spraying

his ears with imported incense and delicate spindly

Japanese matcha whisks.

He’s off and he’s afraid to tell me, afraid to lose

my love that he fears is only admiration.

licking crusted sea salt from the bottom of the irons.

And I’m bowing out of my first lover’s life, running

off to the Minnesotan desert where I can hook my

shoes on my ears to block out the noise of the

moon, because the moon never SHUTS UP, its monstrous

gaping slimy mouth full of worms o’shredded cabbage,

slobbered and sliding in and out of tiny holes,

pulsating like five million Chiapets and seaworms

miles and miles under the time for a peanut butter

chocolate soymilk smoothie. Like a really

really big organic peanut butter chocolate banana

soymilk trashed at some house somewhere she looks

at me and falls cat-dog spread behind my back

speaking of witch ezz, I felt it on my leg when she

bent to hug the girl in my lap, cold and metal and

sweaty through the velvet (I WANT IT BACK YOU



turned on the drill with my potato breaking zymez.

and bored out her brain until she was

apologizing and apologizing, waiting for me to

            “whatever, baby”


II. Bone

the trees were

thudding heavy

bass in my head,

somewhere to the front


of the frontal lobe,


right at the base


of my spine. I grabbed


some wood pulp paper


and majic ink sticks


and thudded the skinny


staircase down to the


space beneath the stomach


of This Old House and

did eleven good pushups


twice each time an


RATM song comes on


my iPod. I can’t escape


the role of ignorant


listener with the bosch-bordered


afterparty crushed


screen. Cured a headache


with 4 athritis pills


washed down with


caffeine free cola and a


peanut butter sandwich


eaten with bandaids.





Managed to fall off the

map for a whole month

feelin pretty strong about




Part I Continued:

I left them gawking and blinded and went to the

roof to drool over he ashy grey matter. I sat

in the corner gumming her brain while

party-goers burnt blades and the smoke clogged

the eyes of the moon so it was helpless when

that cheese grater was taken to the sky and off

rubbed long strips of blue, revealing the

cold blood of ten thousand poppies red,

so white the vice of mothers behind the shredded

sky. I took a match to a strip and set the sun

on fire, burned to the ground.

The juices rain down my face and out my eyes

until I was monstrous loping from roof to

roof-tipped root, all the way to Meenpoint.

But I know equally that I adventure. In the afternoon

I lace up my adventure boots and trip over gnarly                                   

civil war roots on my way to the underground

beast in whose belly I ride to the city, over the

rats and past the mole people. When I come out,

somewhere around 14th street, and this is undeniable

proof that Jesus did exist.




Part I: Meticulum


I sit at the foot of a beautiful king-sized

bed head board whittled floral and curled

I am majestic in the symmetry

The dust falls down and powders my crown like

gold dust or fairy sprinkles or pepper

I laugh and the dust floats down

My sister’s funny feet dance around with inhibition

in their funny blue coats


I up at Lelia’s call and we out to the yard

Retrieve Mommy’s keys from behind the broken

couch and cover the purse back up with a blackbird

and green non-carcinogenic yoga mat.

The whole wheat flour on the bottom of

my roll catalyzes my sour dough quality

We stomp down the ramp in the yellow of

the bug-attractors and the white of the earth-attracted


Close the door behind you, I wait until I hear the

right noises of the screen door behind the storm

door. It has to close for the storm to open.


We walk over to the garage with my pinky out

and I cannot find the light switch the door

is stuck and will not secure all the way up

properly. Lelia darts under so it does

fall on her head; it is heavy and with holes.


Last summer I watched a little bandit chew

a hole in the penultimate panel of this weighty

portal-lidder. A little face came out and shocked

me with its audacity. We sitzkrieged, briefly.

A massive fluffy caboose exploded from this precious

little hole, and the raccoon spilled into the night and

up the orange fence faded.


We look for sea clamps and I pocket copper wire.

Squatting under the ping pong table Lelia looks for

washers through an umptillion tiny drawers

“Come join, you’re as skinny as I am!”

We crouch together, sheltered and shaded, and search in the

yellow for silver through dark, dark green.


I stood and looked at the dark while my sister

closed the door, and we stepped the steps in sync.



Part II: Delirium


Back downstairs I place the dowels and sea

clamps and washers and wire and bread on

the Big Yellow Work Table.

Mama sits in the corner marking perfect wooden

circles with an orange pencil and a blue ruler,



I sharpen her pencil with the gold from my


I hide on the stairs from the roar of the jigsaw

Mommy doesn’t notice, her brow stays in the same

vein of furrow.


I scream fuck into my metal pole lover, just in

love of the noise my sister talks of a band saw

mommy rests her dominant hand he had a band saw

outside and he put it out on the street and someone

took it, you know how he gets those ideas in his

head that he has to throw things and out by—


I do math problems on the unfinished concrete floor

silver and dull my stripped pencil.

I sit cross-legged and read a baronet-authored

book about cacti, beautiful, wild, exotic cacti,

mostly from South Africa.

This old man gets to traipse around the hot

world and take picture of spikes.


I limp back down the stairs after a broken ankle false

alarm turned crick.

I smile at Lelia and Am I a Hypochondriac? Yes. Is it

hypochondriacal to diagnose oneself as a hypochondriac?

We grin at each other over the big painty yellow table.

I left out a y (why)

You have Woody Allen syndrome, she tells me, my

hands full of fluffy clean towels beneath the bare bulb.


I sing old Appalachian songs and encourage my sister’s

flute’s appearance. I predict our greatness.

In the corner we’re busking in a square and I smile

at Galileo and stick my hands in the pockets of

my Grandpa’s spring gardening jacket.


“My true love’s at the edge of the holler

she won’t come and I won’t foller

Hey um diddle dum a day”

Sobered up from my dharma drunkenness at 5am,

my voice deepens.

I cut wood and she drills and we tell stories through

the smoke of our power tools.

Maybe we’ll finish her term sculpture by morning

At the start of the night I swept and

meditated the breathing of sawdust.

I drink tea and make mistakes.

I finally take the stairs with peanut butter

coated teeth.


Fast warm in safe soft bed my hand falls

and I asleep under soft pink and glass.


This Is Not Fresh


And every one thinks he’s the first

to drop his jaw at the words that

the gentle fingers that light upon his face

have dug for veins and smashed glasses and raw

and every none thinks he’s the first

for whom the eyes cloud 

and neck twitches and voice grows high and ragged

spitting secrets and mistaken truths

never realizing that those eyes are for

the person standing right behind him


and i'm rolling past time and faking everything

waiting for someone smart enough to call my bluff

by the time the one that mattered understood

it was too late, he was too tired to have me

and now he spews our story on rooftops

spoke the name of the worst girl he ever tried

and summoned the demon in the form of a letter

and wondered why the hell he let her


In Search of the Sea Gate


Swayed by whiskey to the water, they wandered

in search of an ocean. The whitewashed house they

left behind was yellow inside and heavy with drums.

It was cold, but they were drunk. I looked up to the

night fog as I walked with them. The fog rolled in like

adulterous suspicions, hot and hazy. Back in the attic

a boy waited for me, and my friend was vomiting

and asking for her rejected lover. He came. We

cannot be expected to know ourselves. We try

to articulate passion and promises are

made to be broken. I came to this beach once,

I was taught not too far East. Everyone takes car

services here, and we didn’t find the beach.   


Briana Byron
Age 17, Grade 12
Stuyvesant High School
Gold Key

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