Laura Kochman is originally from New Jersey, but currently lives, writes, and feeds her cat in Philadelphia. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama, where she was the poetry editor for Black Warrior Review. Her work is found or forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, Quarterly West, The Atlas Review, Sink Review, TYPO, Tarpaulin Sky Magazine, and others. Her chapbook, Future Skirt, was released from dancing girl press in the fall of 2013, and her first full-length, The Bone and the Body, was released from BatCat Press in the spring of 2015.
At the Front Door
There’s just this thing you have to do before you leave
My fingers may not touch I am not protected in my travels
This is my hand and not yours
poetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoeyour belief and my belief in you
Here I made for you this plate of beans, small emergences
She rolled the marker through
the thread, worn away, and my hand came away
red from the carpet.
It comes back in the bare patches
poetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetI am not ready for the dark
Watch me while I go.
poetpoetpoetpoetpoeNot protected in my travels
poetpoetpoetpoetpoethere is my belief in you
I feel safe until standing before the door, when no key appears.
There’s just this trick of perspective and thread
poetplines overlapped into leaves
poetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoeno body allowed in the landscape
They leave behind a door so
when you come back you will believe
in the possibility of coming back
Waiting in the dark for the wall to open.
poetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetwhere it recedes into false perspective
Here my offering, my hands against the flat plane.
You just have to kiss this fringe.
I hang the frames going up the steps
One false window for each step impossible to believe this ever happened
To pass from one floor to another.
poetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoeMadness to be above oneself
In the weeds, the stirring of chaos
A pane of cloth. She hangs it on the wall.
You have to change the way you see the landscape to find to forage
The thing is not hidden when you find it
poetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoEach chunk of thread hugs another
The holes between them hidden
square and sliding away
a slow hunch I cannot
touch your face behind the veil
Sideways into the wall.
This is perhaps what happens to the body
in the night losing the shade of the three-dimensional
In one version, this is my living room.
poetpoetpoetpoetpoetpa wall of curtains
In another, this is your living room.
poetpoeTo the left a thing to lean on no doorway where I left it
A space in which to find a remnant
Where the stump grows back every spring
poetpoetppevery summer he cuts it
A bean rolling on my tongue
One knot next to another
where number becomes important
where distance becomes important
where I place one palm against the wall
You can always tell which way you’re facing, in the horizontal layout.
At the front stoop, waiting to be let in.
Dreaming a face of paper she slips into the drafts
She hangs it on the wall every summer she cuts it
poetpoetpoetpoetpoetpthe false made familiar
poetpoetDreaming of drapes slightly pilled the way my body tightens in the dark
The artist leaves his name among the leaves
believing in script
as a replacement for the body
Turn sideways into the horizon.
So thin she slips in poout
difficult to tell in the dark
poetpoetpoetpoetpoetpoeIf we both stand here.
I’m waiting to be told to touch
Tomorrow and yesterday
placing my body in the same space as my body
Let’s make a plan to find each other in the hereafter.
Placing my body in the same space as my body
after my body follows
All Possible Points Along Which These Lines
They filled the poster-frames with blood / I mean borders drawn in blood and
Eraser dust / I was the eraser dust in these scenes and these streets
The chalkboards set back into the walls and into the streets
They went out to lap up the blood in the fiction of war / I kept in my diary / of headlines in the
I was a kid and it was a fight and / they made it daily / news of who was dead and who was right
And every day she drew the state
On the other side of the board was the layer of paint and the layer of drywall and the space between
poetpthe support beams with small dead bugs
On the other side of the glass / in the street in front of this school I kept / meticulously peeling
poetpaway from me / in protest
Floating around like blood / I spent a lot of time waiting around for instruction
Having not yet formed a function you just have to believe in the plane that exists between the graph
poetppoints / which do not ever have to touch
You just have to believe in their isolation and / apart
I refused to hold a sign
Busy gathering to myself all possible points along which these lines might fall
In the magazines they form mosaics of the dead so they can be dead together
In the cloud around a celestial body between points of light
I mean, in the space between two fixed positions / right exactly in that blameless space
In that bloodless space
I’ll never know how violent I really was.
She squeezed my cheeks in the pool
Carried me through the water
with great ceremony.
I wrote all over her molded dollbody
Unashamed in the act of recording myself
onto her surrogate.
Mine cried when shaken so
I delighted in the hiccup
of its head jerked almost from its body.
For I am still the bad one
She the sweeter / shorter / softer. She
turns my head toward the camera
to make me smile.
From elsewhere another woman watches silently, I think. And cradled
She wants one thing
A bigger sink in which to bathe the babies
imagined in the future.
The body becomes a battered thing,
I learned. I leaned against
that dream. As though it woke up to refuse me.
As I remember it, the body of my toy, my toy
of a body cradled. In a dream
I held onto her, screaming as she was dragged into another world.
The cylinder of lipstick tucked into its case I loved so neat and safe in itself.
My toys marched together
for the funeral.
I adorned the doll with plastic beads.
In her cradle she was buried.
She won’t talk about her mother. In that other version
I pinched everyone around me
Ripped out hair and I choked and
shook the babies
piled on top of each other around the edges of the room, still
She insisted that her sister was her only sister and I was not
blood, which mattered.
In a dream they brought her to the curb
on a stretcher and she winked at me.
She left me alone in the bathroom, gasping.
Red lipstick on her teeth
as though she had been chewing on a fresh kill.
My parents like to tell the story
about the division of our toys. I was told
I wanted always to be known as a girl.
As though bloodied.