By Jeni Prater

Dark Cherry
These lips could only be for you, you foamy-mouthed 

sightseer, pegging for first a flash of fear, then a smile
                         so much sexier when you


You aren’t waiting for 

words, but for outlined lips drawn 

for you to see the space in

between. You trace my edges, curves—

sketch an outline & teach it to crave

being filled 


I like my lips pressed together, coated 

recoated, and how dark cherry clumps hide in creases— I have never

been taught to apply anything smoothly— instead to bite

into the pit, let it stain 

my tongue, then spit it out.




Colonel Prater

She only let

her hair down in the morning

when the radio on the kitchen’s window sill wailed

Brooks and Dunn against the hum

of the vacuum. She still woke

at 4:30 every day though she retired years

before. The army gave her discipline,

she said, and all the slaps

on her green-skirted ass



Retreating from my pastel

bedroom where nighttime stories

of Desert Storm spill over

into day, I lie belly-down

on the brought back from her last

deployment – the vacuum wheels’ path still

pressed in the wool. I trace

the cherry blossoms, knowing

if she saw me she would say

the weakest of the tree’s protrusions

is its flower.




Hold it in, hold it in, she would sing, and I would imagine smoke filling my reluctant lungs, diaphragm expanding. abstractly along flushed skin, she penned MAYBE above my knee. After, she ran her fingers to where curves led— we unfolded, discovering bodies like young girls, before distinction, before history imprinted into muscle memory. Passing across borders drawn but not set, she kept herself open to me, unflinching. Sensual, cyclical, constantly moving out and— MAYBE NOT scratched on my thigh in long, angular lines.  What would she see if she could see everything? If she could touch where I'd already been? Close, close, inside, somehow; I could never let her be. 

Jeni is a queer sexual violence and disability activist and works at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center on the intersection of these. She has been published in "Spry," "Of/With," "Spark," "Rising Phoenix Press" and was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize at Wellesley College, her alma mater.

Poetry By Gina Bernard

Poetry By Gina Bernard

I Hate Cabbage Soup

I Hate Cabbage Soup