Poetry by Haley Walsh

The Heavy-Handed Lover

With heavy hands he laid the pen on the paper and I watched the blunt streaks blur benevolence in my name. It’s like watching someone stir their coffee too quickly and noticing, through your peripherals, the trickle of a messy, direct life creep down the white ceramic. But this is in plain sight. I circle around certainty, whispering penciled cursive and watch as the tip of his ball point pen stains an ever widening spot. I close my eyes and imagine it sinking through the pages beneath, and through the table to drip on the floor. My toes subconsciously shuffle, nervously, in the imaginary ink and my mind takes hold of the metaphor. I imagine myself bumping the table as I jump up to run. And everywhere I’d go I’d stain your words on the ground. And everywhere I’d go my mascara would blur with the blue. And everywhere I’d go I’d try to wash it away (but salt water never seems to get the ink out). And everywhere I’d go, you could follow.

I love you: lead words with iron anchors that sink to the pit of my stomach and churn the waters.


Veins of Marble

He leaned over long enough for me to count his vertebrae and dig my nails into his nervous system


And when neither of us were looking we tied ourselves to one another like splints.

I’m at my best when I’m far away.

I’m Mount Olympus feeding on your fear of climbing me and finding your gods.

Come in, let me grip your spine while you find my warmth,


but your bare skin and bed sheets would freeze and we’d lose each other in frozen breath and cigarette smoke.

Instead he walked my perimeter for years not interested in my summits but intent upon my valleys.

And so when no one was looking I beckoned him in and cried nectar on his wounds.

I was drunk on the idea that there is something beneath the floor tiles, the dirty dish water, the cook’s placid stare;

Something under the thick layer of spilt chemical solvent, the a little too sarcastic response, the thick hair greying too early;

Something so large we can’t even see it, that will rattle the dishes with the sheer vibrations of its being, that will start my internal pilot light.

But I don’t give a shit anymore.

I just want to suck the honeydew and nicotine off his fingers

and die alone sweating ambrosia.


Blossom Into Nothing

I don’t know how to explain it to you.

I can’t find the link between our worlds to even find a metaphor for it.

Where in your world is the carnage of living?

I want to infect you with life:

A grove of blossoms;

Citrus trickles down my chin and onto my chest,

A bed of fertile petals.

Eat too much and the burns will strip you

And wilt the petals.

Don’t pay it enough attention

And it’s a grove of slow rot.

You’re a bowl of plastic fruit.

You’re trying to immortalize yourself

With flashbulbs glaring on stolen statements.

But you don’t need to, darling,

You’ll live forever.

You have to earn the peace of death.

You won’t find it spritzing bergamot at your pressure points.



I Like Golden Light Because It’s the Only Gold I’ll Ever Own.

I like golden light because it’s the only gold I’ll ever own.

You’re not supposed to be so emotionally attached to red brick

And you asked him to meet you in the center of the city

But he thought you said “settee” so he sat around all night

Probably crying or summat.


I heard you’re in the trenches.

Maybe you finally figured out the waltz

And maybe those parking lot cigarettes seem dream worthy now.

Meet me at the old back door.

Bring coffee.

Bring me something broken,

And maybe a half hour


It’s all karaoke operas

Sipping flasks of champagne

Talking about Paris

And Mount Greenwood

And pulling back arrows

That point to the exit.


“I hate those lace curtains, they always get caught up in the vacuum.”

A fan of the impractical and wearing silk robes;

And saying thing like “Maybe you should just fuck off;”

And coughing up foreign dust;

And brushing my teeth with lipstick on;

And taking shots of espresso before, and after,



And crying real soft so no one can hear.


He talks like he has a mouth full of molasses

And I pretend I am successfully occupying both extremes:

(Back alley ballets and the like)

(Or smeared mascara wiped on an embroidered handkerchief and such.)


I like it best when we talk about the war.

I like it best when Lake Shore Drive is empty.

I like it best when you don’t ask me so many questions.

I like it best when you tell me I look like I smoke those real long cigarettes

And that I killed my rich ex-husband.

I like it best when you don’t know me,

And romanticize me

And dehumanize me

And don’t see the urchin in me

Laughing heavy at something real dark

In the morning dew of the neighbor’s yard

To keep from dying.


I like it best when you learned to hate me.


When you told me I was probably a queen in a past life

But not a very good one.

I prefer to write poetry about myself

Because you’re quite boring,

And the past is quite suffocating,

And father’s quite sick,

And the man I love is quite far away,

But I can handle the impractical toil

Of my lipstick revolution.

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