Emily Linstrom

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Premonition, I Pardon
(for Camille)

Sometimes I see myself swallowed by a cloud bank, 
perched on a boat with my childhood friend
who tried so hard to beckon me back;
I never understood my strength, the muscle of love or brute force,
I would take nature and shape her to my outrage, my smallness, 
my parents who forged me from all their faults—
other times I was happy to be engulfed.

In past lives, when I was a man, I could stand the losing:
it felt grave and sexy, not yet desperate,
I could wrap myself in obscurity—
it wore me handsomely—
it made me bold, impervious to partings.

But a woman beaches herself in her love,
lays like a turtle on its back, waiting to be turned over, tamed:
With some men I hid in the tall grass and waited,
the waiting felt like hiding,
they were like predators, plucking my eggs, my beauty;
I savored their cruelty like a willing specimen,
driving nails through my fins so I wouldn't
slide off the planks, escape overboard. 

Am I a woman for chasing clouds,
confusing bowlines with anything like the promise
of heaven through spreading my legs? 

Pull me back, I'm evaporating.
Soon you'll be left with a pile of dress
and breath, the splashing sound of surrender.

You know, I miss those afternoons on the water, 
our clear and glimmering reflections
not yet gill netted,

I miss the memory of will. 


New Year’s Eve was twelve grapes, a blessing for every month,
your Latin mother (bruja!) hissing in my ear
to fear everything except red meat and men.
I’d been holding my breath—corset boned, so twice bated—
waiting for the moment when you realized I was impossible to know:   

a half-woman hoarding secrets like seedlings, promising to grow if you loved her,
to learn to love the color yellow,
to laugh at gilded butterflies.

Promises are merely well dressed lies, the merry widows of deception.

A reception over café de olla, (or would you have preferred it con piernas?)
I play hostess to your ancestors, still hatching schemes from the afterlife:
Strung with the milk teeth of Taurean sons, they
confuse their prayer beads with sugar cubes,
impervious to daughters doomed to drink the worst of their good intentions.

I beg lessons from them, there is only gossip—
the talk of girlhoods some hundred years wavering,
the savoring of men like sweetmeats, (and how to keep the short leash hidden)
Our Blessed Virgin and military coups—
I find nothing of you in these women.

They shake their heads and sigh gringa, how could you have pleased our Giovanny?   

smoking cigarettes for dessert,
juggling lemons and loves in the kitchen,
bewitched like the tourist who moves without borders,
picking up lives and putting them down
                                                    in his quest for the perfect empanada.

With you I was Conquistadora, 
heart like an arquebus, exploring                                                                      
        by way of straddled command,
my disregard for latitudes, languages—
how did you stand it? My bloody hands, the unreaped miracles?

It’s true, I knew nothing of pleasing you.
I can live with the new bad, the mother of memories,
a contadora who came but never had;
whose way of saying I told you so 
is to murmur, sing-songed, estamos jodidos…

and they know
and I know, mi novio, there are no answers to your absence,
no black lace loose saints baby cauls
                                                  to comfort with some semblance of maybe—
it was you who said maybe this life is just one big distraction.

Aquí, so distract me with your bloodline damas,
who offer me the last of their grapes
but wait for their God
                             same as any man.


Emily Linstrom is a NYC-based writer and artist. Her work has been featured by/in Three Rooms Press, Rose Red Review, American Slander, Wicked Alice, Eunoia Review, Nailed Magazine and Yes Poetry, as October's Poet of the Month. Upcoming features include Literary Bohemian and Goblin Fruit. A burlesque & sideshow veteran, she has eaten fire and walked on glass for the likes of Cirque du Soleil, The Slipper Room, Brooklyn Circus Co., New York Fashion Week, The Bowery Poetry Club, and various short film installations and music videos. She is currently wrapping two film projects, one of which is based upon an original short story