Julie Weiss (she/her) is the author of The Places We Empty, her debut collection published by Kelsay Books. She won Sheila-Na-Gig´s Editor´s Choice Award for her poem “Cumbre Vieja,” was shortlisted for Kissing Dynamite´s 2021 Microchap Series, and was named a finalist for the 2022 Saguaro Poetry Prize. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her recent work appears in Rust + Moth, ONE ART, and Rat´s Ass Review. among others. Originally from California, she lives in Spain with her wife and two young children.
What I´ve boarded is swampland,
as in leeches slithering across the taut skin
of my senses; as in shadows hissing
malicious intentions, the way they press
up against me from behind, my dignity
sucked down the jaws of a parasite.
How I´d rather awaken to find myself
chest-deep in animal-infested waters
than this crammed metro wagon,
his breath crawling down my spine.
My scream, flailing in the turmoil
of my lungs until still, the way voice
sinks to the bottom of a nightmare
before ever setting sound on sunrise.
I turn my head, and the hand clasping
my ass falls out of sight, his face
withered, as in a monstrosity of petals
bereft of pollen. I turn it back again
and learn that all predators feed off
fear, their bodies clogging the gaps
in our silence. As I wait for the next stop,
what I invoke is blood, as in glinting
off the slash of a blade; vengeance,
as in a swampland full of severed leeches.