Saturday, May 6, 2023

Michelle Detorie : Poems for Jessica Smith

from Report from the Smith Society Vol. 1 No. 1




          for Jessica

At the magical girl hospital
we go out in the rain
wearing our long night
gowns, white cats’ fur
for fleet feet. The wet green
grass is alive, alive
and green, and wet. The balm
we pour on our hands, our
eyes is sweet and slick – tastes
like meat. Indoors
once again, under clean
white sheets, we light
matches to feel
our pink, our tongues.




Mouthlings, wonder-full and alive:

quick to scissor buzz,  pink

ticks and lashy eyes blink-clicking

as if to flirt with sleeping. Dirt-church

where nothing dies. Singer swings

through cloth, dividing cotton

into quotients edged with tethers

that rise to wispy clingings

and forgive the mourning spots

and soothe tangled knots

of missing weather, empty

parking lots and chainlink

edges, asphalt frayed

like an old gray skirt kissing

skinned knees, like the times

before you knew someone –

some man – might be looking.




I hate nostalgia. A haunted
house. 600 broken keys
and desire like a ghost
flitting about, making trouble –
trembling and glossing – wearing
us out. "It's just an old, filthy
ruin." Fantasy-space come
crumbling down. Teenage
kitsch-tacky of troubadours
and tempests. Space
were unmaking in our ribs, rubbing
out the moment, looking down,
"I don't own any of this."
A record murmurs static.
Our kisses become
machines: our armless
grammar, our armor.





Tell me all about your sisters.

Living is a secret we do in caves, dens
where the turntable never stops

spinning. Drinking rum and cokes

and twisting our hair into knots, attempting

to braid ourselves together. We’re like

those spooky twins, a pair of ticking

clocks twitching in unison. We are most

interested in the movies that begin

with a missing girl. We find ourselves

there. Here, we win. Take a drink

and tell me how they left you

at the Mall. I’ll apologize for them.

For all of them, and for all the times.

For all the wicked things I’ve done.



Michelle Detorie is the author of numerous chapbooks of poetry and visual poetry including Our Clean Heart (Outside Voices), Fur Birds (Insert Press), How Hate Got Hand (eohippus labs), and Bellum Letters (Dusie). Her first full-length collection, After-Cave, was released with Ahsahta Press. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, as well as a direct to artist grant from the Santa Barbara Art Collaborative for her public art project, The Poetry Booth. From 2015 until 2021 she served as the poetry editor for Entropy.  Last year, Michelle began working with California Poets in the Schools to help launch and develop the Youth Poet Laureate program in Santa Barbara Country. By day, she works full-time at Santa Barbara City College training tutors and supporting students in the Communication Lab and the Writing Center. For more information about Michelle and her writing and teaching, please visit

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