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✧ Finalist for the 2021 Gearhart Poetry Contest ✧

Selected by Rosebud Ben-Oni

Pick What Story You Would Like Me to Become

something that comes

from the bottom of your mouth

dredged up in the cow dung

of your saliva

a dancing girl with one anklet the skin trail

from chest to navel layered

in nut grass knot weed

money piled at my feet voice clinking

with moonlight

hiding behind

your front steps bury bird bones

in your backyard and hope


follows after

churn nerves in my spine

until I’m container

filled with the sweat

of your wishful thinking

moths kiss me as I plant myself

against the floor

spread my legs and enter

myself it must be hard

not to watch how my nipples harden

under the weight of your words

hatching me

into hyena laugh red eyes

in a dark hallway the type you run



as I walk past you

gusts of wind


down your neck arrow

the piece of roti

you can’t swallow crooked teeth

the type you run towards

octopus suction


the thing that makes you want

a mallet the whisper

of the deserted chunari

you clawed and left

on the floor for others to stomp on

dish rag unzipped

jeans a hole

in the ground to pack your dirt into

should I

pet the back of your throat

as you become hoarse

from prying open


tie me with the bracelets

you once plucked off my wrists

it’s delicious

the fear that crowds

you when I lifted my head

and walked

even after they lit the havan kund

and I bathed

in fire your dirt disintegrating


for the likeness of your smile on my face

it begs

for the image of me


my arms in the air

a trishul aiming for the necks

of everything

you’ve tried to make me


ASHLEY SOMWARU is an Indo-Caribbean woman who was born and raised in Queens. She received an MFA in poetry from Queens College and her chapbook Urgent \\ Where The Mind Goes \\ Scattered (2021) was recently published by Ghostbird Press. Her work has appeared in Honey Literary, Solstice, SWWIM, The Margins, VIDA Review, and elsewhere.


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