Six Poems – Rebecca Kokitus



summer spring tease, I’m in blue jeans

prickle sweat on the backs of my knees.

still have winter lips, bitten to bits

dead lips only a mother could kiss,

like blue stillborn pucker

size of a violet.


wasp season, all prick and swell,

all hiss through the teeth

and stifle the child’s scream you never grew out of.


daffodil season, they’re the stubborn children

who won’t admit to their mothers that yes,

it was too cold to go out without a jacket.


the nights make promises they don’t keep.

drive home half drunk before this city

swallows me like a Valium—am I boring you?

I bore myself sometimes, I bore myself to sleep.


dandelion season, all bright weeds.

once I watched a man bite the flower from the stem

and eat it like candy.

shatter into seeds—you never were your own.

cut me at the knees with your garden shear kiss,

let me wilt before I swell shut with the cold.


but you don’t.




two days of summer



playground summer, swingset

chain blister summer

unrelenting summer.


air like breathing in cigarette

and tasting dirty boardwalk.


I don’t want to be kissed unless

it feels like the first hot April day

on my skin.


dirty feet summer, popsicle summer.

sticky red lips and being carried to bed

after falling asleep in the living room summer.


sweat sting like mosquito sting,

stain bedsheets, discreet

there’s a reason there’s a secret

at the root of “secretion”


sky breaks into spittle rain

and I open my mouth.


wind comes, works it’s way through

window screen pores like cold sweat.

summer dries on my skin like house paint.


I’ll wash it off in the morning

like it was never there.




winter with you



we’re softer. we’re like cotton candy melting in each other’s mouths. when we kiss in your car

our noses run on each other’s faces.


in Massachusetts the cold is as stark and wet as drowning. the shorelines are rocky and the shells

are whole. the waters are kinder here, the things inside the shells are more patient. I tell you

again and again I wish we could stay.


in Pennsylvania the cold is cotton mouthed, bitter as cheap vodka. it bleeds me like an old

furnace. winter was made for us because there is no such thing as too close in winter.

we walk hand in hand in the woods. I pick up snow and let it dissolve in my mouth, I picture my

insides as pure. I press my corpse mouth against yours and the treetops drip on our heads like

nightmare sweat.




(previously published by Lemon Star Mag)


At sixteen years old I learned how to levitate.

I grew so light that I’d float

in the locker-lined hallways—two fingers tucked

beneath all my edges like dressmaker pins,

cradling each rib like a menthol cigarette.

A circle of all the girls

I aspired to be holding me

an inch or two above the linoleum,

and nothing existed between my heavy head

and my heavy feet.


I hid in the library at lunchtime,

I blended in because my skin turned

the color of the pages in the old books,

sallow. But it wasn’t shallow—

though it was at first.

It became part of me, the yellowness

and those bruises on the world

each time I stood up too fast,

and my bones creaking like bedsprings

as I tossed and turned inside myself.



as winter



tree tunnel ribcage, picture myself as winter,

mother nature’s underbelly stripped to bone.

the sky is grey bruises, the river is emerald,

perhaps summer hides there.

I want to be a riverbed, bled dry.

I am like the tree weary with the weight of

a grapevine’s embrace and the leaves

that refused to fall, hanging like bats.

sleepy small town across the river

parenthesized with churches.

the ladies say they haven’t seen me

at church in a while but that I’ve

gotten so beautiful. I want to say

it’s because I’m my own god now.





(previously published by Philosophical Idiot)


My mother talks about my father in the present tense, I don’t talk about him at all.


I feel grief the only way my mother’s daughter could—by finding a thousand other things to

blame the hurt on.


You don’t realize that souls don’t only exist inside the body until someone’s soul is gone and

you stop feeling it.


The ties between the members of immediate family are as delicate as spider silk. We sew up our

homes when they become broken. We tie each other’s black ties, we zip each other’s black



My father’s eyes looked greener as he neared the other side, the same way mine do after a long

cry, like winter’s dead brown got an April shower.


His friends say the disease made him humble, but I think he always was.