WUSSY is proud to present poetry by queer ATLienne, H.R. Hjerpe-Schroeder.
If you would like to send in a writing submission, please contact Nicholas Goodly.
My (Inland) Empire
Those first months were overripe, burnt and sweet
Hot grass fruit trees set fresh against the summer harsh
One hundred and thirteen cruel degrees
My own inland empire’s moat by mountains pooling afternoons heavy with heat
Too hot to touch almost (almost) anything
Car doors glow singeing
Skin against skin burning nights away
Hours spent sweat stuck slick
A box fan’s last dreams of bodies less dire than ours (fat chance)
In the mornings, I mount the barely managing wooden ladder
Arching my body across the fence pawing
At every lemon you never stole from a neighbor.
Checking hourly new highs submerging blistered
Thighs shoulders wrists in ice baths my breath catches
and this is how I keep the sea from sneaking through my skin.
My own (steaming) inland empire
keeps the guavas yellow as the sky that feeds them,
their pink juices spilling over fingers
as the sun buries its face in the San Gabriels.
The one who was not a storm
They whisper in bed and poems spill out,
Round stones, sun-bleached, and bones.
I hide them away in the walls of a house I build myself,
Bound up against the wind and waves
Remembering when we claimed antediluvian
Like children who knew what that would mean only later
Once the rains finally came.
Smoke lingers over from the skyline I left
Smile lines cover fingers the face I felt
Dark eyes woven tight hair — my bed swells.
Heels peel push feelings and turn when
I pull that face in
You look nothing like me and I needed it I say
I knew you wouldn’t look like me before we even met
No one quite
Fits like this but, bit for bit sticks in
I — where did you come from again?
It’s that wind, seen?
That morning light in the shell of mine
In the dash hoping time folds right.
H.R. Hjerpe-Schroeder is an English PhD student living in Atlanta. Born and raised in Key West, Florida, their work is largely concerned with island spacetime and creative resistance, ghosts, shadows, broken light, and magic.