Natasha Kessler-Rains     


In your dream…

How the day looked of digging graves…

Drink from the rose water



In your dream, I have a skeleton arm, 
smoke rises from my head. 
You stand there, stunned, 
wonder, where did the lightning go? 
In my dream, someone shoots you in an elevator. 
I stand there stunned. 
You look like a used paper doll. 
I don’t know where the gun is. 
We are both dead. Roses ache 
inside our wounded bellies. 
We can say these days are unavoidable. 
Days with apples stuffed in our mouths, 
small blood in our ears. Try not to worry. 
We come with our own axes.



How the day looked of digging graves. 
The scent of clove oil. 
We step backward. 
We step on muddy hillsides. 
We are 
don’t worry about it. 
As a small boy we want candy pops from a glass jar. 
Small boy we step backward. 
Some mother shape always walks toward us. 
Mommy stories of drinking gasoline. 
We are a small boy. 
We want what we never have. 
If only our face was sharkfaced. 
So many teeth we don’t know what to do. 
A mother tells us we are only a small boy. 
We lick candy pops on hillsides. 
Our dog Terrible dies on Monday. 
Some dog ghost we cry to we can’t see. 
Some mother shape we never remember. 
This shape always walks. 
Pick up the death small boy. 
Rub the death in our hair small boy. 
Small boy swallow matches. 
Watch the night as it hides some future night.



Drink from the rose water you say. Stiffen our hands 
like dead things you always say. 
You say the night tastes like blueberries. 
Don’t say believe me. Say inhale
Say kerosene pressed into your throat
Don’t say coal-black. Say fuck you
Say nothing. Say the wrong dark
Say nothing saying. Then nothing 
but smoke. Don’t say cloudy water. Say ruptured eye
Say a dead horse’s shoulder
Say an ocean undressing. Or say oil, scaled dress, 
then nothing. Don’t say bone bone. Say 
you have sexy sexy dreams
Say poems are just theories on falling.


Natasha Kessler-Rains is the author of Dismantling the Rabbit Altar (Coconut Books) and the collaborative chapbook SDVIG (alice blue books), co-written with Joshua Ware. She curates Strange Machine Books as well as The Strange Machine Reading Series in Omaha. Her writing has appeared in many journals, such as burntdistrict, iO Poetry, Blue Mesa Review, and South Dakota Review.