Natalie Eilbert

Natalie Eilbert is the author of the debut poetry collection, Swan Feast (Bloof Books, 2015). She is the recipient of the 2016 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship at University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she will serve a one-year academic appointment. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, Tin House, jubilat, The Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.




They get to name the sons and I get a short cry before falling
into line. I loosed my thighs by the river and scrubbed the

oil-slick fauna with my pubis to cure them of the slick. My fever
is I’m starving, I’ve gone slack in the arms, spooned mud to begging

lips, and beat my tongue into absolution. Do you know that I walked
the rape-trenches and came back many times to redeem the witch

and my powerlessness clenched power to redeem the witch. The cervix
buckled under the gait of its thick visions and I could do nothing

but serve my kind more mud and more absolution. This is my chorus
of refusal, to know I am asunder and to know I crave the chasm that it makes.

You mewled into the sunset as I exited the scene but did you know when
the sun sets all I know is how we fail each other. I want to find a better bridge

and I want to be misguided by the promise of suspension. To meditate,
I recall my soft inner cheek as it was pressed into my teeth by a silver hand.

I don’t know if I should be allowed a permanent ordinance, the earth drains
the color from my cheeks as I give my lord a better O Face. My sex is

a golden lampstand, I grip my teeth around its poles, I bleed inventory
until a journey winnows through. I anoint the jealous when I stand

at the helm of invention and I renew every snare to perform it again.
Wasn’t there an idea of community that unnerved me when I didn’t know

what to do with community. My ejaculations leave me empty-handed
in this way that daughters play the harlot with their gods. Karina dreams

she must perform in a white van to her assailants, construct a tabernacle
against the wood of dominance, smile for the cameras in order to seduce

her trauma into pillars and rings and curtains. Of course. When the congregation
eyes me, I wiggle my carriage until my calves announce my purpose. No wonder

I slurp when they bring the spoon to my lips. I gave up priestly garments
to be closer to the burning filigree. I singed my polyester tunic. Last night a man

handed me his letter of apology and I’m an opportunist for gifts, so I put
the whole congregation in my mouth and lo, my power is I have not once bitten down.



Have you ever been thrown atop an altar, the act
becomes the moment and the act becomes the altar.

All our good intentions blemish under a surface of doubt.
I’m so bored of the procession of worshippers tearing the wings

from pigeons and snorting the feathers in offering, sacrifice
itself a boredom of the flesh, an attempt at finding sky in the deathwound.

But I want to learn slaughter to search its laws. What a gauche reasoning
but when anyone brings a grain to the Lord, it should be the finest

blow. The yeast bubbles in the pint and I swear I’m getting so plump
between my thighs, this distinct portion of altar, my thick loaves

pressed to the seat of infection. You feared so much to be represented
but I am careful, I study a steady collective of beers and analogs,

the glutinous bloat of organs gushing forth. There is a man in a T-shirt
making strides toward our art to announce dinner is done. He takes

his wife by the hand to eat blue apron, leaving me in this bar to calculate
my hourly wage after taxes. There are so many stories that test

our capacity for faith: I enter a subway car that wreaks of oatmeal
and entrance. How many husbands are waiting to storm us mid

revision. Did you know they captured an orca and named it
Lolita, its naming an act of faith in order to erase its status as captive.

It is with this lugubrious irony that we wash the organs of our chosen goat.
The sudsing gut oils. I read Lolita in a park in a strawberry dress, stuck

on his description of Lolita’s matted brow. Touched my own. The fabrics
of my face glowed green, my lips fattened, my dress bunched up in the warmth

of my grass. I forgave myself of the tenderness where I was forced
to wake my animal. Captivity is a way for seduction to form a skin,

so we could say the same for consent, a word that to utter suggests
its alternate sentence. I tongue the photoshopped idylls and invite

the joggers onto my grasses. The truth is there was never a beginning,
the living always moved in the swelter of dominance. But what of

the animal law where you lift my chin and find my black eyes in search
of your prebirth spilling. This is a love poem after all, your knee pressed

to my lumbar, my teeth bright in the cloth. You have the power to feel inescapable
and I lick at your knowledge. I lap up the dark essential nectars and close

my fist around the hole between. How well you exaggerate me. A clay pot
touched by man must be broken, and I bend over unclean to offer prosperity.



BOOK OF $$$$$$$

These are the names of the men who are to assist you. From the tribe
of Michael you must get on your knees, beg the metals out as our Lord

presses his power into the back of your head. A blessing in divisions
as we chew what we possess. The descendants of Benjamin undergo

a kind of sanctuary of the mind, redeem their livestock on your waistband,
the white underwear shekelled around the thighs.They are to spread

a blue cloth over the table and put on it the plates, dishes, and bowls.
From the clan of Ryan you must darken the front of your dress, stand

against the headlights charging toward you. They must make full restitution
of the wrong they have done. You are to stave off forgiveness as the thrust bleats

value where in the background Girls Gone Wild! blares. Do you remember
when the clan broke us into the Kings Park Insane Asylum and you hyper

ventilated the walls into crushed tissue, your nose snorting crooked eyes
of what our dear readers imagine did happen. The priest shall take some

holy water and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water, tip
your head back, and force you to drink its bitters. It was almost funny, your

lightness. The jealous hands wrapped their girth around your butt cheeks,
slapped and slapped away the white. It always happens this way, the brutes

thick and bright along the Eastern Seaboard ramp and hawk a slick Whitmania
until a basket of bread hardens to members and feast follows slaughter lines

back to the sour spit of your stomach. Profligacy is only good in meat cures,
its glutinous sparkle blitzes the incidents in the basement the bathroom the

bedroom. Ah yes the terrible Bs are like the countless days before, defiled
during the period of dedication. Remember a sin offering is one goat, the Lord

is stuff’d de world wif feeding girls, a cloud over the tabernacle thus spoke
NASDAQ, and you willed the coins to trickle down your throat in accordance

with his commands for more sunsets. That is how it continued to be. The elders
seduced their dusty eggs into prophecy, licked at the leprous ash, and measured

grains of megawhey to paradise. At your session you recounted the portion
of your spleen that leans womanly to blade. The tassels on your garment swung.

Do not accept a ransom from anyone who has fled the city, the bros chant, kiss their
Crunch IDs. They smothered you with every law on market and bound you there,

there. Language and its exceptions do not dignify the impure womb with
miscarriage. Soaked in vinegars, you watch crows lift heavily off as you grip

your testament to powergrids, the revisionist yes a mess of the chugging
throat, the yes lord yes a deposit slip still warm with the hole of your muscular brethren.

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