one black pixel

the creep starts pointing it all over the place saying
ah, sweet bro, this gun is kickass

so I pretend to grip his gun
high on the back strap

bend my shoulder-apart knees slightly
align the top of the front sight with the top of the rear sight

at first the target is blurry
focus bends the light—

like at the river’s surface
how my hand breaks

when I point it
at my reflection

can you wrap leather skin around any set of bones
work it into an architecture and call it a stuffed buck, chop off

the lavender heads of the yellowing chives
& hyssop or break

the fennel’s soft susurration
and still have the whole thing/



when the creep licks your neck like a dog
you imagine a hand whistle, you suck in your breath

curl your fingers around your mouth
your index finger outstretched as if it were a gun


it starts when I listen to myself for too long
the sunburnt casing on the river & jawbone’d clouds

moon & whiskers erect on a fox’s forearms
white-hot beer cans in the grass, my hip skin white

after all these years he came back to say I still own you—he’s a fuck-job
my therapist said the clinical name is fuck-job

woke with my fist curled inside his fist inside
me & the ochre scent of leaves, crickets’ wings inside the walls

broke my clavicle, a child naked as a full glass of milk
what can you expect

the creep broke the ribs of my first white cat with one fist
I’d rather love from a distance

feel like a wet rug beaten clean in snow
an animal keeping her distance, her elbow bent

her hand side-gripped,
a barrel in the middle of his ear—

I'm flying out, as dark & small
as one black pixel on an amberwing’s wing



never learned the dialect for arsenic, antimony, bismuth
except phosphorus

white Venus   the morning star   pine torching the rural

bone ash & nerve agent & lucifer
fertilizing the riverine swamps

in Georgia where the wet fur
armpits of this boy

choke-holding my throat
said eatem’all, bitch

so I held all the bruised azalea petals
on my tongue as long as I could

& do you know those flowers burn
sweat      grass tang     mad honey

did you ever imagine      the flushed surrender
tasting           the punch-pink skin

a rawest now     & then where
to sink your foaming teeth

the rusted can of his piss
was a little easier to swallow

the dew-colored dawn
not hot yet


the Prairie Honey Fire burned
in the Okefenokee Swamp where my father & kin live

call them Scooby Dumb & ma & pa Skillet
before I was Queer      I was Southern

& I was bone      ash-
haired    & then at ten years old,

the creep called me “wild honey-baby”
it gets even creepier


inside a box
Champagne 9A           staining my mother’s finger whorls

tented radical accidental loops
gloved Headline           fused into Heartline

frustrating tactile perception
you know           I was ten years old

the blue primer developing
clumsy inside my part   my mother

Clairol Golden Blonde #9,
L’Oréal Natural Lightest Blonde #7

you are worth it     at ten           developing
inside the twin trundle bed      the creep erect on my backbone

my queer was           heat lightning
too far away to see the real thing


it isn’t that toxic           bismuth           we swallow it
pigmented lips             silver-pink        brittle

as sea urchins   & again & again
I was ten diving

for sand dollars          creep and me at the blue gulf
motel parking               lot spreading out

the soft green living things

spined           whorled          bleaching
on the concrete           just plain dying

I had rims of new pre-teen fat            leg fur
a pile of plush animals            a waxy doll-baby

some evenings I curled up inside
our emptied resin & steel above-ground pool

Venus rising           light warping    a float
with plastic stars

NANCY K. PEARSON is the author of the poetry collections, The Whole By Contemplation Of a Single Bone ("Poets Out Loud Prize," Fordham University Press, 2016) and Two Minutes of Light (Perugia Press, 2008), which won the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Two Minutes of Light was also named a “Must Read Book” at the 2009 Annual Massachusetts Book Awards and was a finalist for The Lambda Literary Award. Pearson's awards include two seven-month writing fellowships at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, two Inprint Fellowships, and others. Her poems appear in a wide variety of journals, magazines and anthologies such as The Oxford American Magazine, The Iowa Review, and The Alaska Review, Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology. Ed. Melissa Tuckey (University of Georgia Press, 2016) and Ordinary Genius, A Guide for The Poet Within by Kim Addonizio (Norton, 2009).