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By Jayne Cortez

Under the edge of february

in hawk of a throat

hidden by ravines of sweet oil

by temples of switchblades

beautiful in its sound of fertility

beautiful in its turban of funeral crepe

beautiful in its camouflage of grief

in its solitude of bruises

in its arson of alert

Who will enter its beautiful calligraphy of blood

Its beautiful mask of fish net

mask of hubcaps mask of ice picks mask

of watermelon rinds mask of umbilical cords

changing into a mask of rubber bands

Who will enter this beautiful beautiful mask of

punctured bladders moving with a mask of chapsticks

Compound of Hearts   Compound of Hearts

Where is the lucky number for this shy love

this top-heavy beauty bathed with charcoal water

self-conscious against a mosaic of broken bottles

broken locks   broken pipes   broken

bloods of broken spirits broken through like

broken promises

Landlords  Junkies  Thieves

enthroning themselves in you

they burn up couches they burn down houses

and infuse themselves against memory

every thought

a pavement of old belts

every performance

a ceremonial pickup

how many more orphans  how many more neglected shrines

how many stolen feet  stolen fingers

stolen watchbands of death

in you how many times



hidden by ravines of sweet oil

by temples of switchblades

beautiful in your sound of fertility

beautiful in your turban of funeral crepe

beautiful in your camouflage of grief

in your solitude of bruises

in your arson of alert


Jayne Cortez, "Under The Edge of February" from On the Imperial Highway. Copyright © 2009 by Jayne Cortez. Reprinted by permission of Hanging Loose Press.

Source: On the Imperial Highway (Hanging Loose Press, 2009)

  • Nature
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Jayne Cortez
Poet Jayne Cortez was born in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and grew up in California. She has been described as a lyrically innovative and visceral poet, and her work has been presented at universities, festivals, and museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. She was also the founder of the Watts Repertory Company and her own publishing company. She lived in New York City until her death in 2012. See More By This Poet

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