Not / Michelle Castleberry

Oh, hello heart. This wonderful woman.

Not / Michelle Castleberry

Not a hostage negotiation with duct tape and rope.
Not a trinity of words, or those words repeated or withheld.
Not a vow or disavowal;
either becoming a bondage of word or silence.
No safe word here.
Not a ransom note cut from old letters from ex-loves.
Not their negative shapes like the sheet of paper from which a
string of paper dolls was cut.
Not the first or last kiss, from each or every.
Not a hook, baited and cast.
Not relationship status , not nomenclature of any kind.
Not possessive pronouns, not possession or possessions shared.
Not a contract or a ring like a contraction of metal around
a finger.

Not feeling or numbness or the road between the two.
Not the kiss imagined, then real, then remembered.
Not the docked, locked bodies in their soft, mechanical work.

Have you found it yet? It moves.

Clues written in creek water after a storm.
Have to read fast, with fingers, with eyes closed.
Once had and held, now cast onto the open sea,
a fear of heights gone sideways and deep.

Have you found it yet?

Some lucky some, some find it,
some pretty duos of dancing meat and bones.
And so they go, in the Junkyard of the Bloodsong,
flipping off time, begging the rats banging tin can congas
for just




If I am a mermaid with a catfish tail
and you are a half-mule centaur,
we will have to be quick, you’ll have to dip
me like a profane baptism every verse or two.
But I’ve saved enough breath to ask,
“May I have this dance?”