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Contents .3

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D a r k w o u l d n ’t c o m e

Masha Stenina works as a writer and literary

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Autumn

.5

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Understanding Love

.6

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Avocado

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Wo o d e n w o r d s

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Enough?

.10

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Leaving

.11

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Po(rn)em

.13

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Night

.15

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Correction

.16

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Fo r l o v e

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Acknowledgements

translator in New York City. She received her BFA in Technology and Integrated Media Environment from the Cleveland Institute of Art, as well as minors in African/African-American Literature and Drawing/Printmaking. She has worked for several museums’ education departments, as an art consultant, and was the Assistant Director of the Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea until recently, when she left to pursue her novel project entitled “Craziest of Love”, a children's book illustrated by Robin Shafer entitled "Golden Baby", as well as performance poetry. She is the director of an online collective and critique space for women writers at freerangewords.com. When she is not torn to shreds by the demands of her writing projects, she perfects her sushi skills, learns about wine and tea, philosophizes, and plays with her family.


….

dark wouldn’t come.

Dark wouldn't come and rest wouldn't take, but it took all to still all this... Feet burning embers of incense – incensed as everything's been taken. Keeping inventory of injustice close to heart walls – feeling the pile rise and fall and slip to knots below the expanse of my ribcage. Seeing those purple ink fingers held up to stamp out all illusions of a word – They burned us in piles for being bewitched and we burn still when flies land in the corners of our eyes and we are said to be cursed and foresaken. For their sake, to quell their perversions, tied in burkas as refuse is in plastic Looking out through nets and buzzing from interior as mosquitoes – Still more pleasant than the plowed earth of faces stilled by acid of the ones who stand ground. In lands of forced in hymens, fistulas, and dowries telling them our price – Dark doesn't come and stillness filters ruptured membranes of the ones who have forgotten how to birth. Knocked down flat to backs, our children ripped from holes burrowed through by men, their lives and hunger pacified by rubber while our breasts leak shame into our clothes. We're told to put our children on their backs to rest alone in spaces cold and wild. And I would his gasping cry awoke me over radio waves... But my night won't come to me until I hold my child. ….


autumn.

blades of glass like catapults the lower they bend, the further out i go calligraphy of connected birthmarks spelling out names of future children connecting beats like pelts of rain on tin in the midst of spotted leaves that stretch to catch salvation like migrant laborers of autumn. ‌.


understanding love. Tread softly on the curly worn rug on 1,2,5. Follow its seam past the waist-high shelves picked over past the flavored coffee steam past the way old man with skeptical eyebrows... Be drawn in engulfed into a nighttime ritual of double chocolate chunk baked good and tinsel-fat balloons and stuffed hearts and pink and red and notepads and Sade cds. Sit there between the man with half a grin that fingers at his scarf that's pilled, misshapen, but he covets for its red and black and green and smoothes it on his lap And to the right of tongue twisted hair twisted, then tied in knots, a lonely molasses woman with the nervous Egypt fingers which she wrings while listening to nod The preacher of the lonely life he speaks of God and Job and orange seeds that burst with millions of lives Look up to round fluorescents giving moonlight on a Harlem night as neon movie theater stars break through the front door glass Look up while talking cycles, ripples in one pond, of women, men, and what the air is made of in between Look up at taller shelves of picture books sit in the circle but do not look in Cross ankles, sit up straight and answer questions as they're posed about love and destiny and truth Drink water, watch the circle ebb into a chaos of theology and righteous guilt as those who dare not yell are blown out like a tired Catholic flame While skimming surfaces of books with restless eyes that try to understand love's ancient game. ‌.


…. avocado. You promise me salvation on the D train express to paint a scene Where avocados pummel into pools and we dive naked after them since we can see the bottom Of your eyelids rim with pink from plastic particles the color tangerine and beige and blackness racing through the cloudy rounded window edge inside a pit Those flashes sending sparklers to the nerves behind my eyes – a child waves them by the stick to draw across the pitch where pinprick flares sting thumbs enough to bite a bit… Where children don’t unwrap their meals from purple printed wax and paper squares Cadmium yellow eggs crumbling out into laps and grease anointing baby chins Fathers or sons that set their bones across the aisle whites of eyes as yellow as the food push sugar, pushing sex, push products, pushing prams… Push shoulders, waists and waste, hand grease collecting sediment inside the tomb Its many moons of tips of digits forging hieroglyphs which they will reconstruct in cases in museums for just in case…we may forget the flavors of the mother’s womb… But what of eyes when we have all turned to indigenous tribes pelt one another with clay beads and chanting ITunes hits… The ashen lights dye sunless skins with Yellow number 5 with a sheen of diet Mountain Dew to light the brow Rolled down over Hepatitis eyes dilate unevenly allowing only tunnel vision to expand. Feeding formulated subway ads to mouth to foot to face to thigh to hand.


wo o d en wo r d s.

yesterday's wooden words petrify me as i meander in a silent growth looking purposeful. please be sure to plant the softest grass here... i have lived seven lifetimes in exhaustion and now i long for a sentry of rest and the keeper of operatic song that would vibrate these branches into a falsetto of the strings of my nerves and dry clay fingers to pluck away the moss for sensation. vices versus verses make me feel as an instrument of beauty: full-figured and fully recovered from falling in the water twice only to find that falling is not at all like failing to find. not all that wander like this are lost, but i have worked so hard to lose and shed and pray and fuck and cry and scream and dance and shake my frame with beauty and the richness of wine, butter, chocolate, and cum. so easy to forget the scars on your back when falling forward is at hand – the gusts of wind play play playing their leather beats on my spine... it feels divine... and your eyes don't burn quite so much when you discover fire outside of your tear ducts and you do your native dance over the top of its tongues. continued. . .


and maybe they forgot about me....i think they died....they left and only i am left. that's why when i scream "echo", I glean echo – and its layered lacey love is my new anthem, which i salute in the nude only with chocolate-smeared lips. because it's the love poems that live longer than people live love and i am convinced that death is not an option as i smell my grandfather's breath and he whispers "keep breathing in" i'm pretty sure we all know sugar and that it tastes better than the blood of skin on pavement and for that sugar we pray in the syrup of our confused mornings. you want my voice like it's my hand and it can dig into your palm with its sweaty falsetto... my legs wrap around your trunk and pump the milk of love to expand your lines of delivery straight into your bloodstream to nourish your very core with lava of foam and chai and herbal cinnamon rose hips. in this anorexic space scaled by dust particles and scents of myrrh – i purr in delight of having arrived – breathing fire of an orgasmic organism – having this dream again against all logic.


en ough.

in those cracks in your congruencies and verbose ideals and veracities to fill whole cities. to tear them down again. between the heinous phrases and didactic doctrines i am pushing up to come up for air. between viles of vile hypocrisy in spaces balanced on top of your isosceles triangles of tempers in the crevices and fissures percolating cantankerous logic ‌. when your push comes to shove your solitude formidable and your mind miry your corporal space elderly and hemorrhaging will my words be abundant, ample, baronial, big, booming, broad, bulky, burly, capacious, colossal, commodious, comprehensive, considerable, copious, enormous, exorbitant, extensive, extravagant, far-reaching, fat, formidable, generous, giant, gigantic, grand, grandiose, great, heavy, hefty, huge, hulky, hypertrophied, immeasurable, immense, imposing, jumbo, lavish, liberal, magnificent, magnitudinous, mammoth, massive, monstrous, monumental, munificent, palatial, plentiful, pompous, ponderous, portentous, princely, prodigal, rambling, roomy, sizable, spacious, substantial, sweeping, titanic, unstinted, unwieldy, vast, wholesale, whopping ENOUGH?


leaving. Driving on auto-pilot, foot heavy and gaining weight by each rough patch of pavement counting out their still lives graced by the massage of speed and human intervention. Waiting for the, “ooooh, how pretty! can i?” and tired of the lack of meaning behind the sentiment. It never comes the way I see. Falling in love between the difference of air conditioning and sunshine instead. Having the audacity to look for inspiration in the hands that rub, the eyes that scan, and wet mouths that smirk- all unsolicited by my need for their hope. Can I? …. Brushing my palm over spines of scoliotic self-help books, overwhelming as a sea of failed attempts of us to master anything aside from self-importance. Sneak peek the fantasy section with its stars and planets and gases and galaxies of infinite impossibilities, knowing those are more helpful to me. Can I? …. My ears ring from the mounds of centuries of “these times”. My world looks to swimmers, politicians, scholars pushing matter 'round… While I keep waiting for a change to be unearthed and sit here mute of sound. Can I?


po(rn)em. Always between us, laying in silence Glowing internal snow and flashing fluorescent light incomparable to that of lightbugs blessing us with unobtrusive glow Waiting for that burst where I can’t hold back my frustration and you-your addiction – in a sea of suffering humanity... we just need to get off In a sky of infinite stars to ease my mind of the burden of being charity meat, of not being as worthy as interlaced lacy raunchy juicy genetically modified starchy foods to indulge in Need to get off need to get off need to get off need to get off need to get off Repeat A skipping dvd, a rewound YouTube window – a simulation of what we saw out there A cheap cheat. Ah, but out there are infinite possibilities, with us blind, as bound as slaves, owned and told what our bodies will do next, and whipped like butter to be light and solve it all with a series of neurotic clicks and affixed eyes and generic novocaine for our shame That register the machine glow long after our dreams of flesh have long been handed to the devil, which, as it turns out, is also in our bed. Apologies and dreads, loss and jealousy- how boldly they move away from mouths! Creep between what's given credence to and way above our need to hold a hand or a heart continued. ..


Empty pockets of peace in pieces wrapped in sheets soaked in seeds planted to feed the starving children of the world we pray for between each bounce of that phat ass. Shiny packaging protects rotten contents from the real eyes – a glance will only tell you what you already know: It’s your fault web's full of webs woven by spiders for these fly men and it is your fault the flies have gone inside synthetic home boxes to look at boxes for their piece of….peace? …. Your body will never show that color, your proportions store fat in the wrong pockets with the wrong words out of context... And fight as you might, in the night, when all have let go - you’re the one might try to shut your lids enough from it. And those who go there find the truth abundant – bouncing it and swallowing it and taking it and working for it Those real ladies of the night, day, eternity, suspended in their poses and the haunt of the domain. And all the little girls are fast asleep knowing that don’t apply. Don’t apply. Squeeze tight your ears and eyes and every crevice so they cannot penetrate that too.. Let real women take it with their virtuoso names that hang a bit unsure from all their aging faces Just get your beauty rest and dream your truths and leave yourself intact until that woman's you. ….


night.

i wonder if i can hold it up much longer longing for veins and tendons to receive new casing – in vain stumbling within a mass of children who are wards of state of mind –this state of mine – vertigo without being lifted high. red earth sweating from deceit and your beats of sweaty, weighted feet brings sores to these floorboards our dead skin cells descending in dusty sunlight streaming between sunrise thighs and being caught in amber drops to be bought, swapped, sold – so old. alongside tableaus of my cravings spread thick like cream – a suck of breath... someone else's dream wrapped in a walnut shell with a pigeon's flutter shadow dropping ghosts over shards of light so overnight we hatch and spawn into our future to the accompaniment of melodic particles of air – stealing glances behind backs to spot who's eaten next and suffocating him through force of breath within his chest. the wind gusts clear currents of guts as ribs and clavicles become our knives and spoons – and thick red blood-sweat births a dozen moons. continued. . .


…. you get it? the few that gurgle flesh so boldly see – your broken bones when reassembled look a lot like me. the cracking of each fleshy marrow – an explosion of my own delight – and such a love lives only in the night... my sore and poorly eyes don't crave your milky poles of daylight in my new perversion... accented by blinks and winces of diversion – your many bodies will spring up while lifting boulders with organic strength where I spit out your glowing, dry, white bones – and each new joint will connect and resonate with God in tones. and i'll be left in pieces, but in peace... forgetting who ate who and which are blood and honey stains – which tangles are of branches or remains. i'll gather all my orphans to collect the points of light – and stop to stand up in the dead of night. ….


correction.

…. my mistake dictates that it is me at stake a technological snag rips the fabric of my confidence leaving my thoughts dense and fat. …. i only count on myself, if only i could count out to one at least i know of days when this was level on my level. …. but all these flames and this uncouth desire to move move move in all the right directions they make me think these days i'm making all the right corrections. ….


for love. I wrote it in fire and yelled it screamed it while my pores overflowed with Heaven and reggae and wind and wild perfume I didn't turn away, as I had served my time and it was promised, it was mine and because I was kind, adept, sturdy and praiseworthy I slapped and beat and thrown all libations that meant what I had read about I fought in all directions drawing weapons I forgot were warm behind my belt I set Holy on fire I sucked tongues, fucked, and thought and held Was tight and warm and loose and open at those various points I had religion and conviction and a sentence served for life while breaking stone in gangs I laughed at empty bracing me from ten directions, holding there like slaughter I cried so much from fullness, plentitude and affluence Believed rewardingly and martyr-ly and sickly from above Concerned to find where I have slept along the way for all this time, I did all this today for love. ‌.


Acknowledgements To my small and precious family. To God’s glory for keeping me and the power of prayer. I am forever grateful to my husband for the gifts given selflessly and lovingly. To all the people struggling to find their place within this tangle. Thank you for reading my poems.



freerange | collection of poetry