Three Poems

by Rachel Voss

hannibal lecter poem.jpg

Masque

 

Hashtag healthy skin.
Hashtag clear skin.

Hashtag skinny skin.
Hashtag peeling off the skin. 

Hashtag skinning.
Hashtag winning. 

Hashtag substitute skin.
Hashtag Hannibal Lecter.

Hashtag twinning.
Hashtag inside out.

Hashtag prosopon.
Hashtag ethos of makeup.

Hashtag self-care.
Hashtag pretending to care.

Hashtag sharing is caring.
Hashtag cheekiness *isn’t* daring. 

Hashtag tableau. 
Hashtag dumbshow.

Hashtag some hoe.
Hashtag dumb, yo.

Hashtag drama, tho.

A woman on TV says, “At 60,
I had crepey skin”—I hear

“creepy” instead, and turn to look up,
plunking quarters into the washing machine.

A well-manicured stage audience creepily
claps behind magenta shift dresses.

I’ll patronize myself, thank you
very much.

High-fives for grandmas one would like
to bed. I think about my own recent obsession

with skin care regimens. My youthful self
wouldn’t recognize the impulse, or

the skin itself, actually lovelier at this exact
moment than it ever was at 15 or even

25. But at what cost? What sacrifice
to what god, what bargain with what

devil? It’s Friday night, and I feel
all right, caked in an inch of mud, soul

evaporating in place of the moisture I
desperately try to keep on my #face

#me #mine #metime

#seasalt #sea #tide

#time

 

“…a parade of panic in different outfits.” (Marc Maron)

 

Who is leading this
thing I mean I

can’t see anything
from here for all I can tell

there’s no beginning and
no end we snake

through the streets like an
ouroboros ouroboros you

know the one eating
its own tail kind of like

the human centipede I mean
Plato said his own waste

providing his own food gross
right but everyone keeps telling

me I need to “get out
there” and meet my

shadow and I just say I’m all
I need anyway when I see

us all out here or at least
the ones directly in front of and

behind me the only thing
I can be sure really

exists are the many costumes
we all put on panic for

instance is the thing with a
sheepskin on its back trying

to court the moon I stayed
up too late and drank too

much last night court is
too nice a word for it there’s

tricks in the world as with all
love stories somewhere some

god is snorting with glee
at my terror but I guess

it’s just that shadow again
me multiplied like the echo

of a lonely whisper through time or
a single shout in this throng either

way it’s lost in the spiraling out
endlessly and it’s also somehow never

gone so what do you do
with the versions of yourself

is it better to burn out
or fade away be torn apart

or to waste into nothingness
like the last bit of air blown

through the reeds all of these
people scare me what if

there’s a stampede take me
anywhere that’s wild

I know my death is just
an allegory but I feel

dead all the same I wonder
what everyone else is wearing

under the polyester marching band
uniforms and cheerleading skirts

probably just more layers of sweaty
synthetic fabric more outfits

under the hair and the hooves
this one’s the real me I’m

telling you I make the whole
crowd scream

 

So, Last

 

Pop culture trades in nostalgia for the near past,
so that the things we think we miss just appear past.

The past isn’t even past—who said that?  Memory:
some cerebral jukebox in which to catalogue the dear past.

Goonies never die—neither do 80s movies.
No shrines, glass cases, emblems of an austere past.

Let’s take it way back.  The middle-aged commodify
time travel.  Little houses on the prairie, we pioneer past.

Who keeps this stuff?  The life that’s archived before it’s lived.
Can’t really go backwards or forwards, domineer past.

When I die, wrap me up in the funny pages.
Today’s paper moulders; even now is just the veneered past.


 Photo by Lucrezia Alcorn

Photo by Lucrezia Alcorn

Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher living in Queens, New York. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has previously appeared in The Ghazal PageHanging Loose MagazineUnsplendid, Rat's Ass Review3Elements ReviewSilver Birch PressBodega Magazine, and Alexandria Quarterly, among others.