Red Phosphorus

Ren Gay

I go to my closet and take out every single mask
smash the porcelain burn the wood unravel the crochet
I am exhausted. That is it, the full sentence. Subject verb object.

Days ago in the airport, I smacked my palm with my fingers
as enthusiastically I allow myself to get.
It barely takes the edge off but I can already feel the starring.
I resist the urge to fish the reminders from the trash
and crudely tape them back together.
I have been self-aware long enough to know that
a mosaic face is more of comfort to the others
then my own blank slated one.

Every butterfly pinned to the wall comes alive
and rips their wings free of the board, beat against the glass
until it shatters and flies out of the building towards the sun.

I hold the lighter to the stiff joints on my plastic limbs
until they are warm enough to bend and I
flap my arms in the same winged motion.

Icarus was just trying to warm his wings,
the stiff glue creating the same gut churning feeling
as the restriction as the prison cell.
For I know that even in the open air
the walls still close in.




Ren Gay is a poet and artist from Fargo, North Dakota. Her work has appeared in journals such as Anti-Heroin Chic, The Laurel Review, Rogue Agent, Ghost City Review, Gramma Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, Rising Phoenix Review and others, as well as the anthology What Keeps Us Here (2019).