Lauren Kells


black holes and honey

give me your unbridled approval streaming   

         in torrents         

cascading off cerebral walls                                      

                                       soaking my cells in viscous honey

        tell me it’s okay to be       

                    to be everything

in one moment       and nothing in the next

       I need you

to tell me that everywhere you go

I’m hanging over you     

       panting like the sun

on the verge of an impending

         star collapse

bathe me in smoke

           and promises        before

                             aching like the moon

       i eclipse myself in gloom and ink

                          assure me

     i’ll never again be a        leaky faucet

or sit at the kitchen table       digging

  my bear claws into dark mahogany

              tell me that    

     the constant dull thrum of pain

                             meant something

            lead me here        

                               then lead me out

the undoing

please don’t tell me you love that I have a ball of light inside of me      a star heart
          don’t revel in the luminescence

or i’ll drown in the guilt when     i’m stabbing needles through my paper thin throat           
         dripping magma and marrow       all over your new tile  

       you can feel my veins through my skin buzzing    beating   in a blistering cacophony

    next to the hole      in my artery that’s been gushing for years on end   

you didn’t notice
                   cauterize my wound
                            skirt your fingertips over the scar  

      everyone has been pouring     milk down my throat       endlessly
drenching the scored flesh

    they won’t know       I’m choking from the inside
until I vomit    my soul into your lap    white hot and spoiled milk

     you will be punished    for loving me    why not  

            run like hell      is after you    big barking dogs      with razor wire for teeth
chasing    nipping at your ankles      they want to gnaw on your finger bones

     and I do too     shards of you will always stay   within me

    the defenseless feeling of vulnerability     causes a rift      cleaving me in two    
with unnecessary vigilance        I’ll do everything I can    to send you slowly slipping away    

from my searing incandescence

        how can I burn off into a supernova        if you still come when I call

unwelcome tattoos

something aches deep down in     my teeth when someone asks      me what denomination I grew up in      I remember nothing        shame, too-short skirts, endless side eye      so much    insatiable      hunger     all those labels I’ve ever    claimed have    stained me in ink      taken a piece     of me with them     and left me with more    questions than answers     so i dig    into my pockets for a descriptor     and sometimes reluctantly I answer     Baptist    showing off the last tattoo      marking my skin     others boast    theirs like a cattle brand while I spit     that word from my tongue like a mouthful of     venom     it’s a dizzying thing     to love the Lord    but still wear    the church’s    fingernail indentations     on my arm   in spite of attempts to scrape them off   no pride in the crimson semicircles     of what i am not and never quite was.

Lauren Kells is a student at Lipscomb University in Nashville. She loves spending time with friends and family, creative writing, and eating pickles straight out of the jar. Her goal in life is to pet every cat in the world.

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