Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 32
Vernal Equinox, 2019

Featured artwork, En Sof, by brothers Fabio Lastrucci and Paolo Lastrucci.

New Works

Jennifer Vaknine

Uncanny Parrots

Dad lost another rattlesnake in the house after dinner: drawers and doors slid and slammed downstairs. We ignored this, we built thundercloud bubbles in the bath and they stung our open eyes as we rinsed our hair, we watched crevices beneath the sink and door and closet, and later our eyes remained wide until our sclera glowed moonlight and we mutually abandoned that shared floor mattress of ours, we mutely crept down rough, never-finished stairs.

Our shoes on the back porch had soaked too small in the last storm, and so our calloused soles bit into stinging gravel stones, they padded into the butter soft dirt on the road's shoulder we traveled with your fingers clutching my ponytail for miles until the emus, we taunted them and their shadows kicked their fences and we shrieked in delight. Lights on the distant farm porch sparked and we fled, my flat chest tucked into your bony spine, filthy feet curled and staining your nightshirt, and you whispered stories about children like us plucked off dirt roadsides, and you fried me

pancakes, added grease stains and flour puddles in that cramped kitchen, and they tasted like bricks of burned batter.

He slept he slept he slept so

we kissed our squalling sister's cheeks, we changed her diaper clean, we buckled baby into the car seat hanging from the cedar tree with nylon rope. Our knees linked together in the tire beside, we sneezed and spun ourselves sick, our noses blistered in the sun he woke with it setting dad caught tarantulas the size of his hands, they perched on his shoulders like uncanny parrots.

We made ice cream that night, vanilla; my spindle arms shook on the crank so we sat on the lid and we all shoved together and when we fell we laughed like


A Constellation Sideways

Our pot-holed orbit flings me deep and wine-dark numb beneath black-bare seas, and this time I swim: this time my splintered fingertips scrabble aboard a suburban backyard, this time my fingers feed tinder to fading flames, they breathe her skin like an amphibian; I breathe her skin with my skin, sans sails sans direction but his gravity coils tight, it remains a band of rubber, a life-vest clinging to my chest as I try to drown on land.

Our necks curve in tandem, we pretend to count meteors, they swim in grey clouds; we make believe I need saving of all things, so I cough and I retch forth the dimly reflected light of phone messages ignored, I throw up every reason not to do this but she is too good a selkie to leave me lost ashore and I am back at sea:

A map for this exists, I think: I've seen it in smudgy newsprint in late unmade Sunday beds, in crystal shops with neon lights flickering, but we feel our way together in the dark

my blurry eyes create an archer bright and blinding, but I feel she's dripping off my fingers they find no purchase she's a still pool, a ripple-less lake, this light I am drawn to is reflected, refracted, so I make my own waves to connect borrowed lines from these upside-down stars until I've made it: my lover is a Frankensteinian creation stitched of amalgamated burning in a shared sky,

and she's not real, but we refuse to sink, we struggle to ascend together our hands clawed and teeth bared and I don't know if I'm flying or falling but

gravity snaps back, and the fire is dead, and now I lie on unwashed sheets in his bed I am floating, I am searching our stray arrows through his window until night melts into molten morning, until his key clicks in the front lock and pauses long enough for me to strip off my clothes and lock another door. I stand in the shower until the water drips cold.

His forehead shakes the painted white door it rests there and I can almost see his hunched shoulders, he has no key for this lock he could splinter it with his fists he

doesn't; his phone rings once and crashes to the floor. I sit in a puddle wrapped in a fresh cotton towel, I rub wet clammy hands across goose-bumped skin; behind my eyelids stars draw their own constellations, they spin brilliant lies of dotted light.

Jennifer Vaknine is from Austin, Texas and always moving in and out of NYC. Her poetry can be found in an upcoming edition of Riggwelter.