Teniesha A. Kessler-Emanuel
Teniesha A. Kessler-Emanuel is a Master’s candidate in the University of South Dakota’s English Department and a graduate teaching assistant. A published poet, her work can be found in several journals including the South Dakota Poetry Society’s Pasque Petals, the Vermillion Literary Project magazine, and Scurfpea Publishing’s Siesta anthology. Teniesha is also a visual artist, & upon finishing her degree, she intends on joining her two passions by illustrating her poetry.
Festival of Language events: 2013 Milwaukee M/MLA, 2014 Seattle AWP
a reading experiment events: 2014 Seattle AWP
your eyes were blue marbles
& the city, just cardboard, but in the 7-story house borderline beyond was us, boy, where we laced tongues & legs & raspberried. this was a dream, but also my prophecy.
remember when i played fetus & you womb? when you taught me how to roll brown rice? when we tore baguettes on the faux beach at dusk that too-late summer? my sunflower eyes in the vivid held you.
when our astrals met next to egyptian mummies in a museum, i hoped you’d graze the deep need behind my belly, but that was a dream, too, & i awoke to crisp & musk.
you pilgrimaged to india & left me dry, only to wish me wet when i remembered what it means to be a woman. & the many times we’d piqued before. & what the tarot had told us. & the regret of no.
i spelunked your lungs
water bubbles made you beautiful, boy, when i saw you deeper than i did when i was without shake & bake, my pupils all wolf-swelled & wild. your body was my body in a momentary thrust, then a twist. i was a white sheep in a black blindfold. you, a lavender orb with cerulean geode, & you tamed constellations. there was bubblegum glitter between my thighs & it was warm, you were vintage, & beach goth surf rock tesseracted my underbelly. spines are just radars of sacred geometry, i gasped, as i swayed on the firm, my tongue a slow waltz, my breath, cotton & dry fire, & yours, rope-drunk. above us, a glaze. below us, a crinkling. & the middle, a strawberry on mint & two attempts to fly.
when he ducked in from the snow, he was all scruff & cool & they grazed visions. they were pisces, talked small & circumvented. the cat toothed his cheeks musky. there was melt on the threshold. the air throbbed with their telepathies. too cerebral, she astral projected, then dove back breathless, a gasping fish, a pushing-out on a claustrophobic room. it was all too dalí.
goat gods fuck a lot, while she was fresh uneasy pulp. how do you skim new skin? her nipples could juice oranges. between her legs was smolder. between his, a five-year gnaw, a hard grasp, a soft mollusk. this was clandestiny, when her spine curved & their hips rolled, when they grated like metal & sparks. how cute, she thought, when her ass slap echoed. how cute, that the cats wide-eyed from the corner, sniffing with their tongues. that musk was ancient. that musk was deep magic.
& when he returned into the night, it lingered on her throat, a synesthesic blush, yet a stain she couldn’t bleach.
i am home, i whispered. i am home
mother was so sad her eyes drooped into the corners of her lips & bled blue. she was dead, but nevermind, we jumped the ditch & crossed soft pasture heavy heeled. there was a trough filled with wet wheat that turned the marshwater gold. i tight-roped the bearded stalks but then goodbyed & backwardsed away, retraced the road.
a fawn lay twisted beneath the sword grass, its belly slashed lengthwise. i picked up a skull with large round sockets—a cow with compass horns, perpendicular. that geometry was sacred, exactly what i needed, so i fled into the sudden dusk & then the basement dark, sidewaysed into a wallcrack & emerged mid-day into a canyon on a cracker-thin ledge. i slipped but only fell as far as my own body. my bottom lip caught me suspended & i hung in
an ocean sparkled in the far. the rolling plateaus that descended there burnt rust under the sun, bleached plesiosaurs pressed on top. from above, it looked like the fossils were flying. those were my birthday candles all blown out so my wish came true.
the birch blinked in the greylight
the birch blinked in the greylight & the air throbbed ectoplasm as the girl sidled down cattail ditches toward the old plantation. the great corridor of grass was sick pastel, the sky, silent film, the fields, tilled barbwire soil. not a single seed cracked & skyscraped. phantom stalks rustled famine. instead, the in-betweens husked a thousand bones, long spines crawling toward the sea. her camera was a necromancer. horses grazed in the dry polaroids.
the tall, thin man said, i want to shoot you. i shoot videos & you’re the ticket. but she saw the truth upon his tongue. he wanted to peel off her jeans & scissor her legs wide. a giraffe & she modeled tapestry peplum, kissed for the lens & the exposures were rave.
her mermaid mother balanced on a moss-kissed stone in the pacific shallows, palms cupped & piled with zebra seeds, pearls for eyebrows. she wept warnings, but couldn’t word through the bubbles bursting in
the girl farewelled & paced the sand, her baby boy piggybacking, but she dropped him on the rocks. he cracked & egged into wet gelatin. it was squid slippery. it was a soft-bodied doll on a pink bed. a pigtailed succubus with red spirals for eyes grabbed him & squeezed, shaved curses through her teeth straight into his polyester bellybutton. cameras cut to the hypnoeyes, the doll’s fat face, the eyes, the face, eyes, face, until the demon’s throat glowed green jellyfish skin & hummed.