a science lesson


you asked if he knew where I was as if the answer would change anything. we were getting high in your car and watching the sun set on a dirt road in the middle of somewhere. you might have still been seeing her, I can’t remember, but you told me later on that you thought about kissing me then. when you handed me the lighter your skin lingered on mine, a little too long. I was so high I didn’t notice I was shaking from the cold. you turned the heat on and I was still shivering.



he always said I needed to change and I needed to try. what did that even mean anymore? I tried to be happy but I just got sadder and sadder. he said he wouldn’t open up until I was bleeding out on the pavement. and then he asked why I was so angry all of the time. I started pacing my room, wishing I would fade into the dim gaslight.



we were lying in bed and he hadn’t finished and I was anxious to make things right but he rolled over like no thanks. I bit my tongue felt my cheeks get hot wanted nothing more than to run out of the house. I buried myself in the stale smell of semen on his blankets choking on my own shame. when we woke up I made him breakfast and he pretended it didn’t happened.



the heaving, through thick humidity and too many tears, in my high school parking lot of all places, like some sick fucking wannabe romantic joke. as if to say, we met here so we’re gonna die here. he slammed my car door and I started drowning. we were gonna try we were gonna try we were gonna try I was sobbing. if my heart wasn’t already broken that would have done it.



© Alexandra Jema

the 1:45am whisper

when I don’t sleep I go all out of my mind, like stagnant panic. I trick myself by counting ghost hours, but I’m always all awake and not knowing it, forgetting I woke up to check the time, the blinking digital numbers like some sort of mechanical Monet. the words come into my head all wrong and I can’t comb them the right way, and then madness seeps into the marrow of my bones, all wrong, arthritic.

I drank wine every night this week; it didn’t feel like I was alive and I liked it way too much. my grandfather used to carry whiskey in his glass every evening, sharp stained breath I remember so well. I drink my blood and wake up all hours of the night, chasing words in rem sleep, tumbling over half sentences and poetry that I forget in the morning sun.


© Alexandra Jema

strawberry moon

under the low-hanging yellow gloom of the June moon I entered my twenty-fourth year. is it a secret that we age? everyone whispers not to ask but I tell them with pride—I fought the numbers until now. I fought the panic until now. and this morning as the sun yawned itself awake it seemed like the world opened up to me, petals unfurling, unveiling the stamen. ten years ago I couldn’t tell you how I might have hoped to feel—and now feeling in itself is so divine. I use every pore to soak in the life around me, the life that has been conjured from thin air: a tapestry of memories and the threads weaving into themselves like wanton vines, like a storyteller who is saying the words as the story happens. that is me: the storyteller with her words and her dresses, living a cynical fairytale, writing ugly poetry, dancing.


© Alexandra Jema

girl, divine

Sometimes I will talk to women who start to argue with me for no reason. Then I feel it in the pit of my stomach – they are looking at my liquid lipstick and sharp eyeliner, the clothes that drape from my body, and I feel my age. I swallow my youth like a gulp of coffee in the mornings. Being beautiful is just as hard as being ugly but you can’t make the same complaints. If you’re beautiful you just cannot complain at all or else it’s frivolous. I wear my youth when I walk in the centretown streets; I see women clinging to the last of theirs, terrified of becoming a sexless old hag. In a week I will be 24, a woman, immortal, a goddess. Under my arms there is room for everyone but not everyone wants it. And I will not be fearful of growing older, because I have many sisters who know this is not the worst thing in the world.


© Alexandra Jema

the waiting

I had red wine and whiskey in my stomach, and I started peeling back all the scabs from the past two years. black corrosions unveiled baby pale skin, unready, glowing with ache. I stopped eating when you left and my belly became so concave you could see my ribs (if you were there). my sister the nurse worried over me but I ignored her, only looking at people through a cloud of smoke. I tried loving someone who wasn’t you but all he did was chew me up and spit me out, or maybe I did that to him. Everyday I would come home and suck on ice cubes, wishing for the way your fingertips cooled me down even in the hottest summers. I started writing poetry about the universe and how I fell to earth, mortal, a Soul without her Love. And maybe someone was listening to the tin can telephone attached to my heart, because somehow my Love came back to me.


© Alexandra Jema


I count all my teeth and
my fingers and I swear I could just
rip it all apart, destroy everything in one go,
and I would still be red.
some days I wanna reach up
to the back of my neck and
pull the skin off like a mask
I’m still the angry little girl who blamed her moods on puberty:
only now
I don’t have that excuse:
just shreds of the past
caught in my incisors,
becoming deadly cavities.



© Alexandra Jema