I wanted to be dazzling,

like Venus in the late June sky,

glittering gold in the evening,

named after beauty personified—

and now I am twenty-five

and all the things in the poems make sense

and all the songs too

and everyone just gets better and better

at lying

including myself,

so good, I don’t even know

when I am telling the truth


© Alexandra Jema

winter, 2012

part 1

I never knew I would come to love the way your sweater fits over your head or the way you don’t get up right away in the mornings. I savour the long nights in your bed when we are too hot from the blankets but too cold without. Your cologne makes me cry sometimes. In January I always just want to sleep all day. You bring me coffee but the sadness is still there under the sheets with me. Sometimes I don’t want to open my eyes and I get stomach aches. I write poetry to pass the time and you are all over the place. Your old sweater is my tear catcher. When you leave at night I always run upstairs and watch you drive around the corner. I want to see you leave, just so I can make sure you never do. All I want to do is not become the sadness in your heart, that frost on your chest.

part 2

the darkness descends

deep, it settles on my bones

like ominous snow



© Alexandra Jema

witching hour

there is this bruha who lives inside of me—this child with stringy, tangled hair and teeth filed into points. she casts spells to send me back in time, trapping me in dreams of the past. I wake up and tumble into the next dream, and when I leave my bed I am not really sure if I am in the right universe. I feel like I have been in this ribcage before, bent over, heavy hot, tired of life. like this is the curse: this is the price paid for cheap quick magic, all the lipstick. no matter what I do I don’t think I could ever get rid of envy’s wicked fingers, always around my throat, choking me when you look at other women. something in me screams, don’t you know what I do to look this good? you could probably see the wild underneath the painted fingernails. the lipstick doesn’t fool anyone but it’s my favourite trick when it does.

© Alexandra Jema

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 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

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