Poetry by Emily Van Ryn


She tumble-clunks down the stairs of her rickety house and sits frozen at the bottom.

She looks at me, locked and frazzled. Weary.

Jaw tight but silent.

Yellowed teeth pressing into each other like tectonic plates.

In disbelief, she begs me for an answer.

I say this to her: your hair looks soft.

I’d smooch you if I could, if you’d have me, but I am so

Completely and totally

Sorry to say that

I know absolutely nothing about you.


I rip the stapler out of my hand and stand up.

“I’ve got to go to the nurse’s office,” I announce.

Not a head peeps up to look.

Neck bent, silver spring still in me, I stare and stare and stare.

The carpet is brighter than usual.

Instead, I’m in the big one. Lady with a ripped skirt.

I pull the changing station down,

climb aboard. The plastic creaks under me,

Won’t hold long now.

I stare at a shelf on the wall, hand still stuck.

Tampons and condoms. Chalice and cock.

Sun and moon and

A cross in hues of

Pinks and blues and

Hey, isn’t this a workplace?

The station gives way.

I slam to the ground.

My head rolls back and smacks the tile,

Nothing but a flesh wound.

Sleep Study

  I. Raven
You rattle my resting body out of fear I stopped breathing. I had just closed my eyes. You’ve overstayed your welcome but I’m too big a coward to tell you to Get the hell out already, I mean, God, have you not done enough? Instead, I laugh and close my eyes, trying to breathe loudly this time so you won’t touch me anymore.

  II. Ram
You rolled over and shrugged. Said That’s why consent is ongoing. You finished in the bathroom. Said If it were anyone else it would be weird but it’s just you. The woodstove fire died I don’t know how long ago. I stare at your back and hold my breath for as long as I can.

  III. Rabbit
You feel me stir so you kiss me on the mouth and smile. Morning breath at 5 am. Feel the furnace of my body but stay put. Half asleep, I roll over to ask you Who’s the email for? And you laugh. You rest your cheek on my neck and hold my hand like a gift. I look at us in the mirror, smile, and close my eyes again.

Emily Van Ryn

Instagram: @emily.vanryn

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