when I was yet his

                  work horse ox woman

          he ran me ragged-raw
          filled me up with curses

                       (what a dumb beast bitch nag
                      I could be, such)

          if I stopped (soup-stir) (sock-sew) (baby-make) (load-haul)
              for a split

          second’s day (dream) there came

                                       the (prod) (fist) (belt) (whip)

          my once-supple skin laced
          with welts and scars

          when I couldn’t tmake no more

          done with me, he was

          to set me ablaze
                  and let the corpse body evidence burn

          for seven days

          I, from the ashes rise

          no beautiful bird clad in crimson feathers
          no pale, lovely shade

                              I, monster screeching terror
                              I buzzard-meat and skunk-reek
                              I, horns sharp as his once-words
                              and spikes span the seven feet
                              from neck to tail

          run run little man

               he thinks his weapons
               will save him

          shoots me but

              bullets just bounce off my

           (skin he thickened with)

              scar tissue

          sets upon me with dynamite
          but you

                       (can’t kill a second time what’s already)

          died once

          I catch fire this time

          I (tear) (grab) (scream) (fight)

          I drag him with me
               toward the tree line

          I run hollerin into the woods

          and with him in it I burn

                      his forest to the ground

Jessie Lynn McMains was the winner of the 2019 Hal Prize for poetry, and was the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Racine, WI. They are the author of multiple chapbooks, most recently The Girl With The Most Cake, and forget the fuck away from me (both Bone & Ink Press, 2019).    WEB   TWITTER