Her Skeleton Was Shaped like the Stage//Justin Karcher

Once upon a time
a desperate werewolf asked me for the moon and I being a good friend said, “Sure”
so I sacrificed a bunch of virgin ladders, mixed their splintered blood with pixie bones
and crafted a spell that would astronaut me to the satellite, so I was lifted there like a ghost
when I had the moon in my grasp, the tidal waves twisting my toes, I had a change of heart
the whole moon would be too much, werewolf lobotomies, dead hummingbirds on windshields
revolutions trapped in basements, no blood in the attics of power, just mannequins masturbating
no, no, a sliver of magic must hang in the sky like a dead man with a crystal ball for a head
so I sliced a chunk of moon and thought “good enough” then the earth grabbed my feet
pulled me down into its continental drowning, gravity is a grave where we bury our dreams
after crawling through ash, through a lingerie of fire ants, through mole men mortgages
all the werewolves were dead, extinct, the beasts in men became something else entirely
so I was stuck with a piece of moon that I didn’t know what to do with, so I turned it into a ring
so I wear it to remind me we should all be engaged to a future that’s shimmering, an emptiness
that can be filled, a destiny we can shrink down and hold in the palm of our hands, a messiness
we can turn into music and the music can be our maps so we’re always looking for the thing
that makes us tick but I’ve always been a big schemer, which is why I own a castle on a hilltop
but it’s not really hilltop, it’s on a beach but there’s no water, so it’s not a beach, but there’s sand
so it’s a castle on a patch of desert and this patch of desert has delusions of grandeur, got it?
it thinks it’s a beach and that’s ok, but the castle is also part of a skyline of an old city
and this old city is proud of the new things it owns, got it?
it also looks like how the moon used to, back when there was more magic in the world
I like throwing parties here
in my castle, which is also the moon, which is also a New York City apartment

Once upon a time
I met a ballerina, she came to this party I was throwing, it was a party for werewolves  
but the werewolves are all dead, so I had all the guests kiss my moon ring
and I was hoping at least one partygoer would turn into one and we can all howl again
nobody turned, which put me in a sorry state, but it was ok
because I couldn’t stop thinking about that ballerina
I knew she was a ballerina, because her skeleton was shaped like the stage
her bones were meant to move, meant for grace, it was in her face
which had two eyes, of course it’s a face, but her eyes were meant to conquer
and the rest of her face was just a casualty of that optical ambition
her eyes were dark, dark like coffee, the gas station coffee they throw away at the end
the coffee with character, the coffee that grips truckers and chariot drivers by the calves
makes them buzz like dumb bugs lost in bright lights, her dark eyes were highways
swallowed up by the earth, I would go up and talk to her, give her a tour of my place
show her the dollhouse

Once upon a time I was bored
and traveled the globe in search of haunted dollhouses
I collected them all and smashed them to pieces
with the femur of a young woman who died during childbirth
I then took all the pieces and built a new dollhouse
Once upon a time
I showed the ballerina my dollhouse

Once upon a time I spit out a spell and there was a special drink and the entire party drank
then there was the fall and most of the party went gone but the ballerina was now small

Once upon a time I wasn’t so crazy, I wasn’t such an asshole


Justin Karcher is a poet and playwright born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He is the author of Tailgating at the Gates of Hell (Ghost City Press, 2015), the chapbook When Severed Ears Sing You Songs (CWP Collective Press, 2017), the micro-chapbook Just Because You’ve Been Hospitalized for Depression Doesn’t Mean You’re Kanye West (Ghost City Press, 2017), Those Who Favor Fire, Those Who Pray to Fire (EMP, 2018) with Ben Brindise, and Bernie Sanders Broke My Heart and I Turned into an Iceberg(Ghost City Press, 2018). He is also the editor of Ghost City Review and co-editor of the anthology My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry (BlazeVOX [books], 2017). He tweets @Justin_Karcher.

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