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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Paper Lips; Red Poetry

By: Shannon Flaherty

Paper Lips

I love my scars (it’s the openings that I’m ashamed of). White lips parted in whisper,

fingernail shreds pressing through paper skin trying to get inside.

(Or: part of me trying to escape).

I count them like piercings, like cold colourless tongues tracing love letters

I cannot read.

They are the swollen outline of a palm pressed against a car window; the musk of stiff

denim unearthed from a storage bin; the whisper of someone unremembered; the white

blink of rower’s blades across

a glassy lake, now                      now                        now.

Red Poetry

Remember: knees bent up to your chin,

fingers of rain crawling through lace,

a neighbor’s mold-slicked fence post held your spine.

Traded it a patch torn from your back (the colour of red wine-stained lips)

for angry marks where your bones could hide

and a view of headlights in the rain.

Rust groaned over the hill in the distance– your brother’s truck.

You made a list of how to begin:

1. the world scares me

2. this sadness isn’t mine

3. am I close enough?

4. fix your damned muffler

You chose the last one, smirked when he did,

stared through your face in the window.

Now: quarters rattle in the cup holders

but without moonlight, silver is just black.

Still: the planets slide around like

marbles on a greased countertop

the robin swallows a thread from your dress

the next morning and your

tongue whispers red poetry

to your teeth.


Shannon is an outdoor educator and artist on Vancouver Island. Her notebook is filled with illegible observations of people and plants, rushed sketches and sand. Shannon’s poetry and prose have appeared in a number of publications, including Eber & Wein’s anthology Upon Arrival, Cede Poetry and Island Writer Magazine.


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