person Jessie Lynn McMains, two poems

Jessie Lynn McMains is a poet, writer, zine-maker, and small press owner. Her words have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Awkward Mermaid, Wyrd & Wyse, Juke Joint, Occulum, Memoir Mixtapes, and others; she’s also a contributing writer for Pussy Magic. You can find her website at, or find her on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie


forget the fuck away from me (origin stories of a safety pin girl)

coil         magnetic reels back         into cassettes
collect scraps         flaked from yellowed         glue         bind
sheafs once         held by rubber bands now
snapped & staples         all a-rusted

            static-         magnetic         between voices         graves         ghosts
            so loud         & sorrow-slick         my blood smeared
            with all that dark lilac         remember

string me         a necklace         sing me         a song         decipher
me         these stories         how I was born to hate
pink dresses’ itched         rustle & cobweb         silence
by four I was lost         to the basement         carved
a hole where my         tender should be

            to try         safety-pinned & glitter         heart         with dark carved-out
            bottle-blue         girl & anarchy         Disobedience City
            o grit         o fishnet & midnight         Vaseline

o tiny         vandal         soda pop         stealer         pocketer
of keys         o pirate         babe         I longed for         X (marks
the spot)

            I wore         my twin         lilac-haired drag         faggot
            o queers         boy hands held angels         when suicide
            got stuck         o skull         unzippered

come sound         system & salvation         trusted just in
gutsick sensation         faces in the night-trees         shark-toothed
faeries in the midnight         side of the garden

            girls         high & holy         flirting blacklit         girl to girl
            got me cute         small geek daughter         I Ginsberg Allen
            I’m         fuck you stutter         caffeine spotlight

gravel in my hips         my lips         against best friend salt         skin
after playacting striptease         this time you be         the boy         no
this time         you be the boy
childbrides wedded
to each other         ‘til         I had to leave         my ain true love
my girl         my water         snake coiled thick & black         in
eastern creekmud         my battlefield         ghost played trick
o’ treat between         the mossy headstones & my mama
would never understand         so hide         yourself for me

            slam poems         into my heart         so often         o easy
            o fragile         I fell         not-caring         my smoke
            too young         never night         in empty buildings

o girls in black         dresses         girls in soft starlight         death
I flirted with         Anubis         like me he was shapeshifter         dog-
headed         weigher of hearts         hawk-         feathered & feral

            punk whore         graffitied skin         pale black epithets
            scrawled glorious         mark a hell         made to wreck
            this shit         to make love         suburban waste

baptized in glitter-         lust bloodlove         o love         dig
out that dark & see         how warm & red         how slick
the thighs of sorrow & my strange         cupidity         hellbound
I became filthy         Peter Pan crowing         in the gutter         Venus
rising from a dumpster         in cigarette-         burned faux fur
ripped         tights & black         boots scuffed

            our sickness         our goddess         o vengeful angel
            I taste smoke         when kissing her         blue         too
            blonde         dirty dark ocean         across         nothing’s hot ghost

shaved my head & my mother         cried         you look
like a boy         a refugee         like Sinead
        o rebellion         I was
a shock         deviant spellcaster with do-it-         yourself
grimoires         Ouijaing great         Oscar Wilde’s ghost
whispering hot nothings         across phonelines
in the heavy ocean         dark         o dirty         blonde         teenage
lingerie         too far

            whispered Oscar Wilde         Ouija         grimoire         shoppingmall
            spells         casting         deviant rebellion         boy refugee
            my mother         my boots         my black ripped fur

gave her away for a girl         who crushed me         streaked
me blue         burnt holes         in the carpet         kissing smoke
rings         when I tasted the angel         I had a piece of         I
could’ve been the vengeful         goddess of         a shared
sickness         a wasted love         should’ve shot
the suburban blues         straight through the heart
wanted to make a mark         on this town         wreck it all to
hell         made some marks on myself         with cigarettes
& razorblades & safety         pins         wrecked myself
a glorious mess         scrawled epithets in black         lipstick
on pale skin         graffitied         punk songs on the backs
of empty buildings         rolled joints         in soft night         alleys

            cigarette-burned         dumpster Venus         crowing dirty cupidity
            strange sorrow         of thighs slick red         & dark         dig love
            o gutter-lust         o feral hawk         dog-headed death

never too young         to smoke & hide         behind my hateful
notebook         practice a cool         uncaring outside         semi-famous
indie shows         at The Rave         at the YMCA

            I flirted with starlight         soft girls         dressed in black
            mama never knew         o trick         o treat         played ghost
            creek         muddy & thick         coiled snake girl         my only

I fell         so easy         & so often         the padlocked chains         I wore
could not protect         my fragile         heart & when         my poems
slammed into the spotlight         at the cafe         open mic
in a nervous caffeine stutter         I said         fuck you         I’m Allen
Ginsberg’s daughter
        said         fuck you         I was just a geek
in smalltown U.S.A.         but the cute librarian         Ramonesed
me, got me singing         hey         little girl         I wanna be         the next
Cometbus         writing zines         about stomp-dancing         to L7
in blacklit bedrooms         stoned         flirting with girls         in holey
jeans         & hi-top Chucks

            ‘til each wedded         a boy child         bride         this time strip
            tease         this playacting         salt friend         hip skin         lips
            the end of midnight         the faerie sensation         just believe

girls who gave me         drugs that unzippered         my skull         stuck
my backbone         to their         painted fingertips         things got
weird girls who were Sid         to my Nancy         my suicide
pact dreamboats         boys I twinned with lilac         haircuts
dressed in each other’s         clothes         my faggot drag         my
midnight         marathons         of Blondie records         & Rocky Horror
fishnet         fantasies

            daren’t I         come mark X         but babe

& Belle City         gave me a sadness         a skateboard         a grit         &
Steel City         christened me         Disobedience         o I was a boy
called anarchy         a girl with bottle-         blue eyes

            pirate of pop         tiny tender         lost cobweb

I try to         fill that carved-out         dark         with a valentine
heart         doused in glitter         & safety         pinned together         I try
try         try to remember         in the lilac dark         with all that blood
smeared on my hands         slick as sorrow         loud as ghosts

            storied silence         rustle the dresses         decipher me a song
            sing me a-rusted         all staples & snapped         bind scraps
            o reel         o coil         o string me         back

those ghosts         all graves         all songs         one atop         the other
between magnetic


the mother and the childless woman

when the boys are away
we dance in her kitchen,
first hipsway to calypso,
then I put a waltz on.
teach me, she says.

one damp hand slides
into mine, the other
rests at my waist. I
lead her across the
tile, our skirts swing

in time to the music.
my breasts leak. I lean
down to kiss her. rum
and root beer.

we are both lonely, with
or without babies.

the hollows of our
bodies aren’t the kind
that can be filled. our
need is long as the
late-growing hour,

sweet as milk and
whiskey. the night is
deep, starless. across
the street, the train
howls its departure.


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