Annie Christain

Henry [Kissinger] placed the needle in between my knuckles and if I bled, he pulled out one of his fancy handkerchiefs to wipe it off . . . It was better for both of us when he was able to replace the needle with touch programs.                                          
Brice Taylor, Thanks for the Memories

The ball gag is gone.

Freeze the lock
you stole

and sit on the waltz
foot pattern

in front of your human effigy.

When the ice melts,
Vienna waltz towards Father.
Ask him to bring you bottle caps.

If you make no eye contact,
he will also bring cow tongues

so you can determine
when the bottle caps
go bad,
like we write on your genitals. 

The boy who watches you
arrange cow tongues
into the shape of a cyclone

(your trials)
brushes the corner
of a blanket
against his neck.

He knows you stole his lock.

He wears black sweat-suits
covered in skeleton masking tape.

He’s always in the background
of your photos,
pointing up. 

Because you begged the boy
not to call you
the mirrored soul of the underworld
striving for Aether
while he cattle-prodded you,

you upset Father again,
and now he’s gone.

In your cement room,
he won’t be there
to suction saliva

when you color sequence
bottle caps
and recall your clientele’s
sexual preferences,

so put away the skull measurement device.

Go to the boy
inside the cardboard dresser

and offer a strip of your skin
as a replacement hymen
you must sew yourself. 

Decide which half of your brain
watches the direction
of your clientele’s
masked waltz

because your seamstress log
is no way to keep anyone close

until we say it is.

Keep pointing up
in your trance,

knitting a bridge you later claim is
just over there.           


ANNIE CHRISTAIN is an English PhD graduate from the University of South Dakota.  Her poems have been published in Poetry Bay, Arabesques Review, The American Drivel Review, and Beeswax Magazine, among others.  She is a three-year recipient of the University of South Dakota’s Gladys Hasse Poetry Award, and she received the 2007 and 2008 Jerry Bradley Award for Creative Writing at the Southwest Texas Popular Culture Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology in Nanjing, China.