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Letitia Trent



Secretary (dir. Stephen Shainberg, 2002)

Eyes? Pink lids. 
Collapsed, shed 
snakeskins. He makes
her fetch. She bends over
wide. Makes her examine 
her mistakes. The double I 
in her type. She bends deep—
rows of band-aid stripe. 
Something in his 
tamped eyes—dried 
petals—brights. She ties
it in the bow around 
her throat. She throws 
her scalpels, razors 
and scissors into 
the river. Viewer, do you 
understand her, do you 
want to please him? It ends, 
piss on her dress, his we can’t 
do this forever. Her why not, 
her red hands on the desk 
until he comes. 
She remembers, rapture, how
he tugged himself
and stared, but refused
to touch her. It ends in white, 
a run across 
the chemical lawn
into his grim leathers. Viewer, 
I want to know, do you think 
Why Not? all in capitals, 
Why Not? She takes 
his instructions,  but tucks 
a bug in his tight, 
precise bed and little
smiles. She sees—
but we cannot!—the future: 
a calendar full of morning 
glory pinpricks, of petal-
mottled reds. 




The Bourne Ultimatum (dir. Paul Greengrass, 2007)

Viewer, you are the woman, 
the camera, and can’t keep 
your eye on just 

one victim. Capture the gut punch; 
knuckle to the socket; the lapel twist, 

screwing the neck-hole
closed, the throat still 
inside it. Closeup 

on the flushed face, 
bug-eyed. 

The hero’s haircut—boxes 
and buzz—implies a solitary
precision. He’s all zeros

and ones. He’s a toy car 
in the corner, 

ramming the drywall. 
The camera sweeps 
his foreign apartment. Note

the dim rooms, the twisted
plumbing. The body sags 

by a spraying toilet. 
Viewer, you rinse 
in the dirty sink and jab the scissors 

at your scalp. 
He’s watching from the mirror’s 

speckled corner. You’ve touched him, but only 
in metaphor. Now, take a harsher hair color, 
some pedestrian pink

sweater sets to confuse them. The hero’s face 
cannot move a centimeter 

beyond guilt or determination. 
The words between you are pinched 
and fictive. This cannot 

be overcome by acting. You mouth 
your lines with perfection. You are the viewer, 

too, and still do not know 
what has happened. 




Kairo (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001) 

The fine-boned girls 
in ballet flesh ride 
the sugar bowl alone, 
holding their sizzles 
in the women’s candy stick, 
as velvet and red as a mound 
of lilies. Their short slashes flair 
around their thickets. 

For eleven thousand yesses, 
a man may enter 
and a young woman 
will stand, clutching 
the bat in her throat-buttoned 
blossom. For twelve, 
she’ll moan in alley cat. 

I don’t understand their
rickety-raw. Nobody kisses 
in grinding. All glad girls catch 
in lathers. Some are deadlights 
already, their pale skin thin 
over winter bonfires. Some live, 

their hankerings tapping 
for a kiss. Here, The school glad bags
will undress if you give her 
the proper ace in the hole. 

A girl folds her small lemons 
under her thingamy and waits 
for the telophile to erupt 
in static. One slips a black bag 
over her heat seeking missile. 

There is a ghost in my compulsion, 
the boy says, but he’s alone
in his room, and the 
tender button hisses. 






Outdoor Life

Harden. At dawn. Bury
the kitten. Sun’s fucking
up again. I’m gonna shoot
it tomorrow. Pink, then 
red then blinding blue. 
They find a mouse inside 
the pantry. The boys kill 
a copperhead in the woodpile. 
In the forest you can sometimes 
step in viscera. Barefoot, I slit 
my arch on a hard, dried blade. 
One month without seeing anyone 
I couldn’t crush between 
my fingers. During deer season, 
the orange-vested hunters walk right 
through our yard. The red bugs run 
bright sores all down our dirty 
knees and ankles. The perfectly
round reflected clouds scuttling
across Sardis Lake’s black
tree studded surface. The snake 
holds its fat head above water, 
but when it passes we slide in again.




Risky

The snake holds its fat head 
above water, but when 
it passes we jump in again.
At first I was scared, she said, 
but I learned to like it after. 
He took her hill hopping and her
forehead split on his dashboard. 
His body hit the river’s surface 
like an egg against the linoleum.  
His class ring diamond is a purple 
star above her eyebrow. 
He stole pop from the vending machine 
because he loved me. His daddy 
stood and cried just like a baby. 
We drove fast and my stomach
felt sick. It felt like something 
from a movie. He didn’t feel nothing 
until later. She didn’t feel anything 
either. The preacher started crying. 
That’s Jenny’s boy. Fucked up. Pity.
	
	
	
	
	
	
	
	
	
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Matti Ressler
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