JoAnna Novak



(give me rules or black sheets) (i take what I can get) (live-in cat, electric stove) (flame the color of Mars)

(give me ivory fringe on the mantleside rug) (thick ribbon-slap in the carwash) (give it to me there, give it to me now) (foot off the gas, neutral gear)

(rule number one: scrub the knobs from my neck)


(give me spine, i'll get you a ladder) (give me your lap, i'll perch slow) (put it down) (slow down) (slow, you) (you, heartman) (you, streetlight) (young pray-er)

(I gave you a glove, you cut off the fingers) (introduced my teeth to your nails) (I was given a choice about braces) (said no-no-no meant yes) (good enough: code for low-bad) (or so bad I give myself over) (fresh lipstick just for bananas) (crack gum and blow bubbles red) (eat a plantain—not the same) (lo mismo)


(give me a black chair, i'll folly the questions) (where were you when copters churned ocean) (beached, how many push-ups did you shore) (one-legged, one-armed, straddle-stanced) (riding my lady ankles, crisscrossed, pale, no socks?)


(two is rough rider vending machine, but three is here for her pleasure) (go thick as blood, strawberry syrup) (fun as the pink plastic pistol) (I wear it for mirrors) (pivot) (plus boots) (plus rope burns in the gym) (training all day and all right)

(give me toy handcuffs, i'll assay with my mouth) (commas to exalt, jog off a moment) (parenthesis in the jungle, cabanas) (give myself up, goad myself down) (glazing the core with my wants) (a crisp, new piece of nice fruit) (chew through a universe to be used on your table)

(give me a jaw, i'll thumb out the clench) (a chin to inch down my throat) (wishbone catch, i'm delicate) (hatch for apples and platanos) (more blood and strawberry syrup) (cans of whipped cream) (suds in the carwash) (sweetness lazing the trigger) (i'm lying, never lazy) (not once)

(find me, broken clock) (decriminalized time) (decimate O-500) (O-climb under) (O, pull-ups wondering) (fingerless gloves from long ago) (empty stomach and lonely dorm)

(give me rule number four) (fuck me) (make me stand up) (tall as a Florida palm) (mean as a bitch in the barracks) (teach me to keep my arms long) (lick iron from barbells) (love the heft of a leather ball) (i hug it like a punch and twist) (box fan near the bench, decline crunches like a wench)


(give me bookshelf of gunpowder, cloud-colored) (go little women, i'll GI Jane) (sneer my skull with the shearers) (haven dog tags in my tits) (cleavage or heaven or humility)

(number five is whatever, six is mountain climbers in the saltwater, spitting in your footprints, so glad)


(give me a bell in a box and i'll toll my palms raw) (strawberry sundaes for all) (blisters the color of now) (give me a reason i need you and i'll oh my word oh my word oh my god) (word you loud with hard plastic syllables) (word you in a bunkbed from mars) (worded you bananas, now dizzy) (just wanting a rule or a prayer) (mug of yellow pencils, desk to knock clear)

(give me your pocket, i'll share my sandwich) (lipstick hueing the bread) (mess hall of give me a call) (first day that never ends) (second date, seventh) (if your game is on, follow my finger) (if your love is strong, grant me a medal)






Even if I don't know what I want, I still see eggplant.

Even no French, mouth aubergine.

Even tooth-cracked on oysters, I set a table, serve caponata.

Even my brain in your lap.


Of Sultanas, extra vinegar, I take your tongue.

Three hours later, I am ready to bed, shadow your sheets.

Even when you strip, I stain an X on your neck.

Even an XX, or an XXX.






Writing exercise: take notes while watching GI Jane in the middle of the night in the middle of a snowstorm after middling Thai food. take apart and type notes. abuse your favorite punctuation.