Rebecca Gayle Howell

In Issue 4 on October 31, 2009 at 7:54 am

Psalm #1

What if I did the thing
they say we are to do:
think of myself, first.

Think of myself, first
as a piece of glass, blown
in my own hands.

My mouth to my orifice
to my fire.

What thin light would come?
What oracle? What purpose,

except to hold straight
some daffodils in their cut
spring, their cold water
of rapid bloom.

I don’t know who I am.
I no longer believe
I can know anyone.
A bell with a cotton tongue.
A string tied around a finger.

And you.
Blessed be thy name.
Horrible fish,
what is it?

Psalm #2

You are the origin.
The obstacle.

The fist I have held
caught in my throat,

the hand that pulls
the knotted rope
lengths from my mouth.
White bird from out behind
my teeth. Wing’s rush.

Oh, me.

Your house, these hips,
this trash palace.
Do you smell it?
Mother’s milk, left out.
Does it make your tongue
curl against your palate?
Do you never want to eat.
This is the home you have made
for me. For you. For me.
This is the body
I am not inside.

Doors. I stand again
before you, twin self.
The earth is cold.

I am impatient with entry.
I want what I want.
Put your tongue to me.

Psalm #28

The problem I have is that you’ve made this world for your pleasure, not ours—
so much pleasure, so much burning (desire), so many

dragon flies blue as ball jars, sonic waves with wings, so many ball jars,
so much evening light filtered through their skins, so much hunger (preserved)

(protected from) made, so many stomachs competing for their place: here is a world
like a marble in a palm, a glass milky-way, whirling with micro-

cosmic stars in every egg, a dervish in every face, if I tried to take it in I would break—

so the problem I have is this creature I call me

can only be a part of it, another thumping thing, one more
craving mouth wet with taste, my beating self just another Salome (dragon fly) (solar

flare) (snake), my beating self just another dancing thing, hazard-thing, god of fire, god of grace.


I didn’t love him
I told her I did
I told her I would take his favor
into my small hand, mouth
I told her I wanted her
to bathe me, perfume me
for him     I told her I did
When I clave unto her,
I clave unto her

Where ever you go    I will go
where you will not

Rebecca Gayle Howell is a writer and documentary photographer. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, The Hatchet Buddha (Larkspur Press) and was the photographer for Arwen Donahue’s This is Home Now: Kentucky’s Holocaust Survivors Speak (University Press of Kentucky); her work has also been collected in the anthologies Plundering Appalachia and The Artist as Activist. Currently, she is a faculty member for the BFA in creative writing at Morehead State University.

  1. Love.

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