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A Cutter’s Sestina (Prom ’95)

Fuck spring. Spring’s a punk in rose
leather who sings
under lacy stars,
stars the night bruised around:
My knives / are sharper / than your / knives.
Na na nana na. / Here, amid my corsage of voices—

baby’s breath, filler, wired voice
I’ll call Boss Fleur (my rosiest,
my loudest)—I knife
bloom upon bloom I believed. In what? Unsung,
in ribbons already, I’m around
to, what, suffer girls this Phantasmaboria stars.

Strobed grunge and stars,
you pulsing through gaps in my stall, govern these voices.
Govern these slits. Oh, we should belt a round
so we never cry, we never stop crying, should rise
on tides dyeable heels bleed, should sing
our aerial arrival, waif dynasty on a knife

edge at the dance no one dances. With knives
for mirrors, those stomped-cold stars,
we color our lips like our songs
before bright heads loll and voices
disappear down school and wild-rose
wilderness corridors. When limos round

the terraced distance with backseat cardigans, their round
necks, may every spike heel conceal a flick knife
for pinned torsos, our oh so much cuffed blubber, to arouse.
Feeling is a lie the crepe stars
tell the falsie hills in a voice-over
for a song

never cut. Didn’t I say I loved a gothic touch, a snuff song,
a grudge fuck? Just look around.
the system. Have it. Where are the knives?
Where are the woods? Where are the starlets
who play my ghost and cover my creeping flesh in roses?



Carolyn Hembree’s debut poetry collection, Skinny, came out from Kore Press in 2012. In 2016, Trio House Books published her second collection, Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague, selected by Neil Shepard for the 2015 Trio Award and by Stephanie Strickland for the 2015 Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award. An assistant professor at the University of New Orleans, Carolyn teaches writing and serves as poetry editor of Bayou Magazine. Visit carolynhembree.com.