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Red Paint

rachel stempel / poem

the war council & the salon

i was given a tortoiseshell comb, 

its frenzied teeth digging for a way in

hard & undeserving of love:

this prom updo i didn’t wear

at one point i took a bone saw, 

reclaimed my primordial jaw


i wanted openings

a runway

& as it split

the leg of the highest bidder,

skin-tagged & caught 

in fishnet, went limp

from the vinyl cracked armchair

i god myself to death

hygiene is electric blue, heavy

menthol, good burn

i’ve felt it before, the heat of 

perming solution

i know it’s not a real forever

then, a terrycloth slap 

what summer is this, you ask, 

you, who waits for partings

then, a terrycloth slap 

i god,

i god,

i god


Rachel Stempel is a queer Ukrainian-Jewish poet based in Binghamton, NY.


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