5 Poems
by Kate Dougherty

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Because Everyone Would Be Dead

The hurt in Katie’s belly must have made her spit up
this bloody word and I’m on the floor

with a white dishrag
but my forearms, elbows, chin, earlobes are red

red red red red red red red red red red red red red
and Katie’s choking.

Stop it! Stop choking!
Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!

And put on your shoes, God damn it.
I can’t keep following you around

with a dust buster and kidney puke bucket any longer.

Don’t Enter the Fuckfest Contest

We ripped our gym shirts and tied
their jersey ribbons to branches during winter.

How quickly cornfields burn.
I wanted to char the meat, but I was too late.

The real evergreen round front
was blue & gray, sticky needles.

When you sucked one, your lips were gummy.
Dirt & bird shit. Seventh-grader spit.

When a boy scooped a rotting pile
from under the tree and rubbed

in your hair, they knotted. They stunk
and pricked their tangle.

You got a bruised forearm and sweat pits.

Put on a sweatshirt, lock your elbows
to your waist.

Your hair looks like shit.

Does it ever feel false, this grooming ritual?

What does it mean, you no longer have a pulse?
       My lungs no longer fill with air.
       The valves in my heart no longer open, or close.
       I don't piss or shit anymore. My fingernails won't quit growing.

I didn't even see the knife in her hand. She doesn't bleed.

She approaches me, holding up her left hand supine,
pinching back the skin now loose from the cut.
There's blood inside, but I wouldn't call it bleeding.

Pep Talk

Don’t drink all that water if you’re not willing
to pee it out, ounce for ounce.
That’s what hydration entails, how it works, what it’s all about.
I won’t even shave my pits and I’ve got hairy toes.
Hair is there for a reason. Man
was meant to eat, shit, make babies, squeeze out babies, and die.
Die-de-die-die do you know what happens?
Keep your nails trimmed. Bacteria hides
at the hyponychium. Before you show up
pretty and serene “they are not to be found
in most libraries or bookshops” they cut tissue
from inside your swollen mouth from inside
your swollen neck. They lacquer the sutures
so your neck won’t leak on the white pillow.

Why do I remember her hair?

I understand why he said, you aren’t creating.
Like putting on a jacket, mounted on mannequins
sewn upsuit. I could do this at the library,
set my phone to vibrate.
Her hair over & over he must know I’m writing for it.
Corncob grit to dry material, sewn upsuit
and over the flesh. I don’t believe
what he and his date talked about.
Re-color to natural color, can’t recreate the personality.
I’m kinda okay with leaving my behind.
Sculpt body from foam & try on for size,
like putting on a jacket.