Monica Lewis

“first kiss”

we will meet each other like hawks who, at first tender, soon nip, nip nip nipping until tiny cries pierce out, deep from our guts, talons clawing the bark of the conifer to fine dust. i a sharp-shinned hawk (accipiter stratus) only slightly more pale and spare than you, will be caught in my tree, at just about its height, in the night, and it will be my eyes, orange lit moons flitting through the leaves that pull you, you a black sparrow hawk (accipiter melanoleucus), somehow drawn north, now lost, black belly, white breast, with a dove in your beak. you’ll not know i’ve not eaten in weeks, and that this hunger has been a choice. i am white-breasted, black-backed, so when we flutter together we become one monster bird of night and light. you’ll first offer the dove, and we will share the feathered flesh, the snapping bones, until below us, the tree seems dusted in snow and then you will kiss the gold of my cere. i will hook my bill into your nape. you’ll wiggle your bill down into mine. this close, you’ll notice my underparts are blue-gray, a startling flash of topaz when flecked by light. and your belly glistens both night and day, like a black beetle’s shell. like a black beetle’s shell, we are hard, yet smooth, soft if touched gently, cracking to ooze if pecked at and with this nip nip nipping it is clear, we will not let up till we’ve nipped to the juice.

“(lies to tell yourself when you are sad or happy or drunk or sober or woke or dreaming):”

they love you
no one loves you

you love yourself

love exists, but only in
inhuman things,

a tree or the sea sexed in sun or moonlight
a pup’s tongue,
a spider’s precise,
skinny, scattering sprint,
the sleep-waking space,
the blinking licks,
the dusky/dawny/drunk/druggy in-betweens

on the ledge, on the edge,
still sprung.

how we both always know:

you saw my status
i saw your status
you saw my text
i saw your text
you saw my tag
i saw your tag
you tweet\i tweet
you saw my retweet
my snap, my IG

you saw, i saw, you saw my saw,
i saw you saw my saw, until finally,
one of us saw a saw seen more than the last saw,
so the lies i tell myself when i am see-sawing?

life is a mirror, like the tree, like the sea
like you see and i see but we are flicking,
fading, stunk-dead bugs, so what do we do
slipping into seas and trees,
still hitting refresh, refresh, refresh?


Monica Lewis
lives in Brooklyn, New York and holds an MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts. Both her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The James Franco Review and her poetry in FLAPPERHOUSE, Breadcrumbs, and the anthology, TOUCHING: Poems of Love, Longing, and Desire by Fearless Books. She is a VONA/Voices alumna, an assistant editor for NOON, and the Media Director for The James Franco Review.