Ilse Bendorf, Writers' Retreat Fellow

Ilse Bendorf, Writers' Retreat Fellow



[Applause] [Applause] exposure you can't escape it all that was unforgiving wash of light I'd rather feel my way through pitch-black and let this sci-fi radiation and settle on my skin that curl that won't be wild my thighs uneven color I'd rather you don't see the asphalt in my knee or painted tones left over from my sister's wedding two months gone there's no hiding under this whistle blowing coldness is for betta fish glowsticks Mercury's that smell me I do best in weaning gibbous or burnt-out lamp light candle dancin campfire burn steering my old angles and close-ups I've had lovers who didn't know we've shown their eyes on me like some policeman's flashlight I can't always promise not to flee when you start repentance or brand-new miss I can't even promise what you try that I'll keep the label but this one's vain means the moon in Greek and yes she gives me crescent sigh guy holy slickered screwed me nocturnal howl and trashcan drums yes I let her look at me she sees lava and understands it isn't prayer or forgiveness [Applause] experts recommend changing small amounts of water at a time it's not as though we didn't try wiling away the pan fries meat of Oregon's summer on the same lumpy mattress you with Philip Roth and me with Ruth is hummingbirds siphoning sugar water at the window the ground not yet eggshell not quite solid you said turn out the lights baby when you come to bed to change the water you'll need to disconnect powerfully from the tank it was Yom Kippur and you were written fast with mad a merry rebel easy and feast no rush you told me you were not yet at telling me when at last you said I'm in love not with you and heaved a womanist from my lungs and scrubbed the parts you would not touch again you should also clean and rinse any other attachments the oral torah three of its washing on this day of rest and your mascara didn't even streak I've never been to Jerusalem but I've often a guidebook on the way the dry wall echoes no breath but my own the way I sprawling dreams and don't reach skin turn the power back on and return the cover saltwater fish are not necessarily more difficult to keep they are just less forgiving of mistakes Salinger I'm sorry but don't ever tell anybody anything is a string of words I would like to wrap up in canvas and sink to the bottom of the Hudson or extract my laser from the ribcage of all of us whoever believed it who felt afraid to miss someone to be the last one standing tell everyone everything is not exactly right but I do believe that if your mother looks radiant and vital that you should tell her or what a juvenile sparrows rashes its wings and dust piles and reminds you of a lover's eye elections we should say so we are islands all of us we are also votes our secret lairs pyrotechnic devices by which to be single there's someone in there we're still alive so maybe it's don't be afraid we can rewrite the currents flame-resistant feathers wax that won't melt I mean it I'll draw up a prototype right now they're burning belaboring won't stop us it'll be everything we dreamed the morning after even if we fell into the sea we're boat remember we're pirates we move in nautical miles each other's anchors each other [Applause]

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