Ghost Made Flesh – Robert Torres

Spread your arms out the way
you held her once
she grew big enough to swallow you
in one gulp. Feel first her cactus spines
across your neck and then
her gentle belly laugh.

the joke?

Hardwired to the dark back seat
of a borrowed car, no one
holds a gun to her but all
four doors are locked. Slack-
mouthed coyotes stare forward
– the light
– the hood – the rearview mirror
-a stranger’s hectic girlhood

There’s no number
to call. You call out the last
name she sloughed off eloping
into the night, unfold it 
from under the bed and skulk
with it draped over your 
shoulders when you need
to wear the absence
after all day carrying it.

I am broken, 
but not like this

Call in to your body 
the small moving parts that break:
vertebra, coccyx, perineum,
proprioception, equilibrium, familiarity

On a long dark drive in the hill
country, encircled
by heat lightning,
the distance itself is home. 
She adapts. She is spine,
shrike, and impaled meat.

Eat of her body. 
Remember her soft and small.
Drink of her blood. 
Remember what makes all things grow sharp in the desert.


Robert Torres is a writer and performer based in Portland, Oregon who has worked with Monkey with a Hat On, Gender Bomb, and Twilight Theater Company, and has been published by Nailed Magazine, 1001 Journal, Spider Web Salon, and others. They worked for three years as a bookseller at Black Hat Books in Portland. Their work explores anxiety, delusion, revolution, and the conundrum of having a body whether you like it or not.

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