We enter a palace room for a second
time, the one where stags hold
some of my ancestors’ names.
So many mouths, some little flies.
Camera catch the pitch of my smug.
You try not to spout. My wet crest.
The stags on a ceiling of gilded pens.
So a lens under my chin makes a wish,
I a push. A ropeless turn of my head
leads to an Atlantic edge. Westernmost
point of low return. Never crease the will,
and wander. There’s a weigh, out
to the wrong side of a hide but delicious.
I want one pound of not marbled. The artist
scales your face to an itch at the ear.
Vanessa Couto Johnson (she/they) is the author of the full-length Pungent dins concentric (Tolsun Books, 2018) and three poetry chapbooks, most recently speech rinse (Slope Edition’s 2016 Chapbook Contest Winner). Dialogist, Foundry, Thrush, TERSE. Journal, and others have published their poems, and their creative nonfiction appears in The Account and FEED. A Brazilian born in Texas (dual citizen), VCJ has taught at Texas State University since 2014.