Polaroid of a Teenage Wedding, and the Old Folks Wished Them Well

If I should topple a table,
            legs in air, too much space in room. Back to door.
I never sit with my back to the door
            except with you.
Three men enter with lips, gold chains, red knuckles.
                        I am telling you about vomiting
in the corner of the basement
            of the church of my youth.
I am telling you about my first basement apartment,
                        how I fell in love with a girl for the first time.
If for flies
If for the skeletons of mice in the back of an electrical outlet
If for things coming through the pipes of the toilet
            What if I asked you to kiss me on top
of the toppled table. What if you refuse. Do I turn
my back to you.
                        Paddle in this space in this room,
like a dog in sleep, you wonder what are they chasing
what are they chasing. 

Polaroid of a Teenage Wedding, and the Old Folks Wished Them Well

When we are in leather, in plastic, in latex, you love me.
            I write you in smoke letters,
                        Sunday arrhythmia.
How old do you have to be to understand
            a heart is a piece of decay.
Muscle and flesh are surprisingly different shades
            of the same color.
You are asleep in a foreign bed with new upper arm definition
            and eyelashes that lightly blink
when you sleep. I love these arms, detach them.
            Let me carry them with me in a suitcase
as baggage. Let me let them hold me when I feel.
                            My dear, what muscularly defines you.
A voice gone deeper, the colors run. When I pin your arms
            down by the heels, what more than weather
                                    in the shape of a flog.
What more than weather in the holes of every letter
            in the alphabet. What happens when you leave
out one word, only use 6 letters.

Polaroid of a Teenage Wedding, and the Old Folks Wished Them Well
For Tina Brown Celona

In three months, the warranty will run out.
My fingers as pinking shears, fifteen stings attached to your back, 
body suspension, organ suspension. Cut the lover 
in half to have more for later. Stripes of lacerations
above water, how and what pornography. 
Our favorite porn star’s favorite meal 
is kedgeree. Can there be more of an uphill/(stream)/+
tug battle? How to verb and adjective struggle. 
In three months, tell me about how you act, 
how you are going to England to watch football, 
how when I dribble champagne from the sides
of your mouth and lick it off your clavicle,
you remember. In the bottom of the flute, a ring, 
a bit of sand, a small piece of plastic
big enough to choke an animal at play. 

Polaroid of a Teenage Wedding, and the Old Folks Wished Them Well

Can knees understand repercussion
if they understand weight.
Replace one. For a fish.
Salmon run upwards behind bonecap,
watering sockets, a video screen
or two behind you that you
keep staring at. Lately,
where have you been
but distant. What kind of limbs
set themselves on fire.
Broken architecture thrown
into the river. How many more
houses gone before there
are no houses left. I am on my knees
in question marks, in holy positioning,
a fish’s backbone, dried white. 

Katie Jean Shinkle is author of one novel, Our Prayers After the Fire, (Blue Square Press, forthcoming), as well as four chapbooks, most recently There Are So Many Things That Beg You For Love (Patasola Press, forthcoming). She is the Associate Editor of Denver Quarterly.