Submission Guidelines

Sunday 6 July 2014

Michelle Greenblatt

Streaks of Scarlett: A Story in 100 Parts


It’s 7:10, she notes. She’s just about to leave her cursed computer when an another goddamned idea demands it’s time  /  to drench the pages.

I will come back…she starts, then pounds the delete key in fury. She hikes out to meet her edges.

The motion of her eyelashes distracts her as she types, as does the irresistible urge to call this her autobiography. She considers this / sentence; she (re)considers herself. She looks out the window into the nothingness that envelops her. Having endured so many circular, identical events, how can she tell this story again?    

He drives a shiny new white BMW, which he bought but now can’t afford; he rides around all day, looking to score. He knows his cleverness is a weapon. pour to melt, he insists.

She floats in a perpetual state of emulsion, strips the last bit of syntax that makes any sense into pieces that suit her purpose.

Her hand speaks out loud as it slaps her
face repeatedly,
factually and with a plethora of brutalized dreams.

She picks roses |cut| She picks skulls |cut| She picks perpetuation. |cut|cut|cut|

She runs through the empty chalk hallways, the white pages, the chapters of absence, looking for anybody, anybody at all who knows her name.

who is she? they whisper after they have taken (their turns with) her. They don’t imagine she can hear then. None can match her features in any royal database. Facial recognition informs them she does not exist. They contact the FBI.
In hushed tones, they whisper, how can we best be rid of her? And: is she dead because her eyes have gone black.

A memory: He won’t wake up and she wants him to wake up. She repeats this to herself.  you won’t wake up and I want you to wake up. you won’t wake up and I want you to wake up, wake up, WAKE UP.  Each time she thinks this, she grows mightier
in her anger.  She pauses, then rises, casting furious shadows onto the mirrorwalls.

He is flecks of liquid placebo.  He harbors his many hands inside her. 

disentangle! disentangle! she screams as she dashes through the palace corridors.

witch and lunatic, they murmur, shaking
their heads.

Meanwhile, the prince is in the forest, hunting
butterflies. He catches them, scratches their feathers off.  By this he means oh, look what’s left. And: here comes the butcher.  He does, of course, need to eat.  And he can’t fry those jeweled fish forever.

His tongue is made of moonlight, of magic, of dreamlies. When she kissed him the first time—nearly nine years ago now—everything paused as her wish
(let it always be this way, let it always be this beautiful)
morphed to a smashing of prayers, then scattered into whispers, and the echoes of starless whirlwinds carried them away. 

(But his kisses were dust.)

Stillness. A blackbird. All is silent in that bloodforest but for the sighs of the carbon-trees and the scrape scrape of butterfly wings as the prince performs their ritual slaughter for his feast.

Road reverse, reverse road: she can’t get away from this palace.

The sky underfoot, the sun in her / skin (again, and always), skein of fire sweeping through her veins, blossoming in her gut, propelling her perpetually forward.

The foreground flies alongside her, colors blurring together in a haze of green and brown mingled with streaks of scarlet in the bloodsap leaking from the deviltrees. As for any context or sense of direction—she lost that long ago, when the weight of light broke her
back. Nothing but loneliness to keep her company now.

begin, she thinks, begging herself to believe. I must begin again. 

But here comes the wall of sepulchral silence slamming into her. Her 6½ sapphires spill into the abyss.

did you exist ever did you—Scarlett reaches for his hand, gone for so long now. But he has left her a gift of slain sky, shredded narrower than her small
despairing sighs. 

They must have collapsed on the moist ground, but the (lack of) hospital records contradicted the corpus delicti: blood and flesh / evidence they left on the forest floor.  

Her appetite outrages him; he strikes her, pummeling her face and chest, pounding her with his right fist, raking the nails of his left hand down her breast.
No one shapes their weapons like he. 

Rage taps on the window. The window taps on the door. 

She washes her hands in the bloodriver. Wisps of her climb into the bus that runs back to the forest branching beyond the palace. She can’t find a single place to pray amidst this, his vast darkling forest.

don’t be afraid, he says to Scarlett, I can see you in the deathmirror. 

what does this mean? she asks him.

Greet the dead the way the dead greet you, she has learned
the hard way. He grabs her by the throat; he hides inside her  /  bones. She forgets what hands are for. a light will come, he promises her, you will be held up and you will be blessed; you will be raised above the most glorious of altars.
It is then that she remembers: hands are for offering him needles.

O sand O silk O galactic black wild—she dances naked, breathless, on the web-spread surfaces of Zodiacal light.
O exposed bruises, O love doubled into madness, madness into self                                                         murder,
flood of sunlight bouncing off dust particles, ions in the coronal plasma, forbidden spectral emission lines—
She reads pages of blank verse; her eyes skim the skies, registering the empty majestic light of heavenly bodies, most of have already died; their light is an echo, a ghost chased by time.
She’s drowning in the cold                                                                                

don’t move, he said to her, don’t dream,
until I come back from the dead for you.
I will come back from the dead for you.

Nights like these, the edges blur into eternity, into a single red scream that begins with the heart’s first beat and continues long after the last breath expires, leaving the body
with only the fact of itself: a discarded sac of skin filled with rotting meat.

he sleeps and she sleeps; they dream the same dream:
(don’t move.)
(don’t dream.)
(don’t even breathe
until I come back from the dead for you.)
But to live in his palace?
(I will come back from the dead for you.)

Michelle Greenblatt is the poetry editor for Unlikely Stories. A two-time Pushcart-Prize nominee, Greenblatt’s second book, With Explorative Hands, co-authored with Bill Mavreas can be purchased on; her third book, Ghazals, was co-authored with Sheila Murphy. Her book, ASHES AND SEEDS, is forthcoming. She can be reached at

No comments:

Post a Comment