Indistinct Features

Rena Priest

Your face is a movie screen.
There are two matinees
and three features every day.
Your smile incites the Theremin
to which I react with acumen.
You were one thing. Now another;
tasted like sugar, now like butter.
Mr. Tom Savini, Sultan of Splatter,
Godfather of Gore, 
the orchestra can see you
around that corner, behind that door, 
cooking up some violence. 
The violins are going crazy
and I will react with the antonym
of acumen when you come to slay me; 
but the angels will sing a chromatic hymn
when your demons come for you,
to do you like Mercutio,
find you a grave man tomorrow.
“YOLO,” the kids will say,
“There’s something about an open grave
that makes me amorous—libidinous—
downright horndog AF.
Gotta replace a life with a life.
Gotta get in the pudding club.
I’ll give you the sweet pearl
of my sympathy, swathed
in the nacre of my spiritual oyster,
mounted in a shining ring.
Poke a hole in the curtain between
the living and the dead. Now
it’s a peep show for your soul. 
If you peek, you’ll see the day
where we all go back to analog. 
Colloids and emulsions on reels
instead of coitus and emotions in files. 
Tomaten auf den Augen Haben.
Images flicker
24 times per second across your face. 
I can’t keep hold of your features. 
There’s a feather
where your mouth is supposed to be. 
It flutters when you say, 
“Oh come on baby, 
don’t look at me that way?”


Rena Priest is a writer and performer. She is a Lummi tribal member and holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. She is active in efforts to strengthen community through participation in local arts and culture, and has taught subjects in comparative cultural studies, the humanities, and Native-American studies at Northwest Indian College, Fairhaven College, and Western Washington University. Her first collection of poetry, Patriarchy Blues, was published by MoonPath Press in May of 2017.

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