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

in media res

I used to go around, newly godless, heart racing, gentle about my bad luck. I had broken many mirrors but I knew the spell was over when you kissed me. “come here,” you said. it was as ginger as it was when I was seventeen, young and virginal. when you moved my hair out of my face and touched your lips to mine—the bristles of rough hair on your face scratch against my chin, and I breathing it all in, like I can’t ever get enough. sometimes I keep my jealousy alive imagining the other girls you kissed when I wasn’t around. but then I remember that your presence alone conjures words inside me, making my mouth bend in different shapes. you were Orpheus with your music, I was Eurydice with my quiet steps. you are every handsome face in the mythology of us; sometimes I am the gorgon, the harpy. but you call me the princess and wrap my legs around you like we are a constellation in the making, on fire until our stories are buried with us.


© Alexandra Jema

the whole

it just rips apart my chest—to want to both share the words and keep them forever—if everyone knew maybe they would call me a fake, make me twist my neck. it just pours out of me and I don’t know how to stop. I’m famous for not being able to keep my mouth shut. the Narcissus in me wants to see my words everywhere, even in the soft echoes of the people I left behind (what a long exhausting list). so I drag my hands across the page, cursed cursive. my fingers weave the poems into place; I drink sparkling wine to make my world starry and the words tumble onto the page, loud laughing drunk things, with a smeared bloodstain-lipstick kiss to sign it off. and when I rip the pages apart and throw them into the wind, they turn into crows that peck my head until I vomit the words out again.


© Alexandra Jema

from the corner of your mouth,

where did you even come from? you asked one day, in the middle of laughing at some joke we made the moment before. I was walking up the stairs and I had my phone in one hand, groceries in the other. you are always doing that; you will never wait for the right moment to say something because it is always the right moment to you… and for a moment I forgot who we were in this life and I looked at us: where did you come from? we grin like idiots in love because we are, and because neither of us have the real answers.

I want to tell you that I came from a million places, that I was looking for you in this vast universe, but somehow you found me. you say eight years in your memory and I only count seven, maybe because you count the time you were in love with me and I didn’t know. I remind you of when we were apart but you say, we were just finding our way back to each other. sometimes when you say those things I just stare at you, like I dreamed you up, and maybe that’s where you came from.


© Alexandra Jema

interplanetary discourse

well sometimes it feels like you are in the middle of some big colossal argument or discussion or whatever and the enormity of the words does not hit you until they are out of your mouth—where it feels like there are half-sentences hanging between the canyons of space between you yet they are the same words—the desperation of trying to explain that you are both on the same side—like poles on the opposite ends of the world—that hopeless, hopeless, hopeful reach—and when the explosion is over and the moondust settles, I whisper messages on comet tails and blow them over to you like kisses

© Alexandra Jema

that one song

last night I went to that concert and they played that one song I listened to when I was falling in love with him. all of the memories with him are burned into the notes of that song, you know? but it ended all messy, fiery, like Rome burning to the ground.

sometimes I think the poet’s job is to separate each and every feeling splice by splice, like I should enjoy the happy moments for what they were, right? other times I bury the thought and think I’m happy to be falling asleep next to you.

© Alexandra Jema

a poem about writing a poem #457

This is the quick of it:
the part no one tells you of; the sliding
into a comfortable calibration,
the seat where you can string and string the words along,
and it sounds j u s t r i g h t
—no papa bear or baby bear bullshit.

And you will find (like I have) that after a while
there are strange blooms that sprout
in the least likely crevices of your body
and you will pluck them off and put them on paper and they will all just fit:
Like lacing your shoes
after learning to walk.

© Alexandra Jema