Author: Jess Rizkallah

Jess Rizkallah is a Lebanese-American twenty-something with internet connection and a subtle affinity for the moon and also burritos. She studies English and Illustration at Lesley University and edits Maps For Teeth magazine. Her work has been published by Parnassus, Vagina: The Zine, Commonthought, SP CE, WISH Press, and her mother's fridge.

Saturn’s Return

one time saturn itself sprouted legs and a gender, landed, double knotted his nikes
straightened his rings and held my hand to the soft spot of himself, that place where
his skin bruised the shape of new jersey during that diorama life when we were all fruits
swinging like balls of yarn
trying to unbecome

the earth was a potato with a nickel lodged into its side, then –
i remember that much, and saturn was a peach
                                    i was a something with wings feeding on the nectar,
trying to get the pit where just enough cyanide is stored
             his rings weren’t yet crystallized around the gravity of himself
             his rings were still trying to be a harp inside his hum, then.
             i guess i found something in the way his flesh crooned itself tender
from the inside out, i guess i never forgot the annihilation
i guess i tucked it into my skin condition,
into the way my biology is always failing to replicate the song,
to bring this planet closer
i guess he’s never been mine, but still Saturn comes to me

sprouts cartoon eyeballs, an appreciation for hydrangeas
he grabs my other hand, pulls me down oxford street to the nearest bush, he says

WOW LOOK AT THIS FLOWER RIGHT HERE. IT’S WAVING TO ME, I THINK IT USED TO BE MY EYELASH ONCE AND THEN I WANTED TO BE A REAL BOY. I DON’T KNOW IF I WANT TO BE A REAL BOY ANYMORE. DO YOU HEAR IT CRYING?

saturn is crying

saturn plucks the flower, hands it to me, tells me to keep it safe
i shove it in my nose. i tell him, that’s where i store my love
the rest is somewhere in the ocean

he says HEY ME TOO, ME TOO. I STORE MY LOVE INSIDE A WHALE, because of course he does and then he tells me IT’S TUCKED BEHIND THE STEINWAY OF ITS TEETH, ATOP THE INK BLOTS OF ITS TONGUE. YOU KNOW, I STILL FEEL IT THERE, LIKE A PHANTOM LIMB. I THINK THAT’S WHY I CAN’T LOVE YOU. I THINK THAT’S WHY I STILL WANT TO.

I THINK SOMETIMES I AM STILL SINGING FOR YOU. SOMEWHERE IN THE PACIFIC.

my hand still pressed to his soft spot and now saturn hugging himself to the tune of me, wanting to hold one flower to the bruise of himself but still, always wanting all of the flowers, every flower, and he Loves Me Loves Me Not Today but he Did Once but now saturn lives in the sky. stores his pit in the mouth of a sea elephant
he drowns his love and calls it a whale song

saturn says IF I COULD FIT INTO ANYONE’S NOSE I’D WANT IT TO BE YOURS

saturn steps closer, trips over his shoelaces, he falls to the earth.
somewhere out there, tectonics groan. a car alarm goes off.
i imagine that half of california is falling into the ocean.

Answering your alarm clock when it rings during that limbo between Asleep and Awake:

hello? no i can’t food with you today, i’m sorry. i’ve gotta walk my clock. it’s so restless.
it keeps running. it’s got the hiccups. it wants attention, i give it too much attention
if i taught it to walk it would know that no where is really all that far it would let me sleep

snooze

you ever seen a teapot? you can fill it with so many space. so many outer spaces, like the kind between each word on a parking ticket? astronomy died so you could parallel park like an asshole this morning, show some respect, assholes have a hard life. once they exist from the ends of felt tip pens, they never know they aren’t stars. entire universes come out of assholes. hello? hello?

heyHEYsnooze

yeah hi what do i do
i saw steven sleeping on a park bench last night
it was made of teeth i think
isn’t that weird how everything is teeth
how everything is benches
how every teeth is benches
how benches have a sunrise channel but a broken remote.
my shoes are a working remote
like my phone like my thermostat
like my netflix account
like my ceiling is a working remote
even when the paint scabs into inkblots that look like steven.
have you seen steven? where is steven?
i need to stop changing the channel

[BELLS BELLS BELLS]

puppy sized elephant emporium! how may i help you? we’ve got all kinds
of elephants, so many of them. wearing pants. purple pants, with trumpet
flower pockets. and lady bugs singing the buttons electric — are you still sad?
don’t be. our elephants are little but they know so much. you are too
you always will be, but look at how much you know.
look where your skin creases with it.

[POP-PUNK RINGTONE FROM 2007]

hello hi! welcome to the rainforest cafe. welcome to the rainforest.
do you hear the rain? listen to the rain. the space between each drop died so you can astronomy today. you’re made of old star parts and dust bunnies and gluten allergies
and forgotten punchlines. popsicle sticks frisbee’d themselves into the sky so you
could cry today. it’s why the sunset just kinda hits you sometimes, you see. we close at 7

[bee p beeep beep BBBBBBBeep]

hello? oh hey darlin’. sweetie. no, honey. baby! no wait moon, i mean moon.
i mean ribcage. i mean grapefruit. i mean poem, poem. hello poem —
don’t hang up on me, i can hear you breathing. i know you’re there.
do you ever forget to return your library books sometimes too?

[MORNING TALK RADIO GURGLES]

hello? yes this is she. this is me. this is i. this is my eye, it’s brown. like poop, but also
like chocolate. but also like birthmarks. like oatmeal, brown sugar. like burnt sugar. like bookshelf, made from dead wood filled with tree ghosts. trees. my eyes are brown like trees. but also like dead leaves. but also like alive books before they’re books, so like trees. alive trees. like yours. a lot like yours, my eyes are brown like yours.

snoOoze

hey no sorry i can’t come into work today.
well i guess because i’m kanye west but also because i’m sad.
all my favorite people keep turning into wind chimes.
well that’s sad because i mean, wind chimes is my favorite flavor.
i keep eating people i love. i keep eating people

[1 new message]

Answering your alarm clock when it rings during that limbo between Asleep and Awake:

WELL, COME HOME

the fruits aren’t tasting good today. they laze in the bowl by the window, humming
there’s a meteorologist living in my foot. in the scar. blowing his nose
on the tissue every time it rains.

i keep thinking about guitars in october, about ian pinching a piece of my forearm
to demonstrate the pain of the tattoo birthing itself into the skin
he marked that spare infinitesimal space for him. it’s his, i’m his in that one place
when i stay up early enough
when the sky becomes a pancake burnt in the middle but gilded at the edges.

the fruits aren’t yelling at me today. they’re usually yelling at me to call my mom
to send in the rent, to stop playing with my face. but sonia lives there, and she’s so annoying—
i’ve named my zit sonia. when i introduce her to jakey, he poses at my forehead
like she is a camera, he asks me if she likes him. he wants sonia’s approval.
i think about how even when no one is there, we give everything a name,
there’s always someone watching
always a bamboo plant to carbonate with when we’re sad
always a humanized coffee filter on the counter crumpled into
a boomerang crumpled into a dimple you never see around anymore

i never see the vendor around, i don’t know where he peddles fruit anymore—
the grapefruit gurgles at my thought of him but still reminds me that

dalia is moving to california. the fruits aren’t yelling
but the grapes suggest that maybe i should call her
she was my sister before i was a sister. my feminist icon
before i knew how to LOUDER, how turn on the Kill a Man function
on my boots when i needed to. 6’2” in heels, dalia could kill a man

she’s my sister’s sister when my sister doesn’t feel like
she has one, so i dial the banana but jakey picks up instead
i ask him             “what’s your favorite thing about outerspace”
he says                 “sunflowers”
and i tell him      “no, sunflowers used to be
dinosaurs, they’re in the earth not in space”
he says                 “yeah they were, but that’s why they’re in space,
they ran away from the earth”
he says                 “i want to be a sunflower.”

then he asks me to teach him how to fly to the moon
he says it’s squishy, it bounces, he says he wants a yoyo
like the one he had a great many years ago. he’s four years old,
he measures his lives in yoyos. he asks
“where’s the moon, it’s been gone for a great many years now”

the meteorologist is drunk at this point. he buzzes at my heel,
says

“tell the boy to watch out for glass. no one told you and now we’re both
stuck with me. and the glass, it’s still in here. it’s still in your foot
do you feel it? it’s crying. it misses being part of a container, it misses
the ocean. it was never part of the ocean, i keep telling it that, but it
won’t listen to me. even the ocean has glass, but it doesn’t understand
how lines work. it doesn’t understand it was broken when you let it in
also don’t forget to wear an extra pair of socks,
i’m moving into your heel tomorrow. you broke those boots in wrong
you’re always doing things wrong”

i broke my boots in wrong. i think about ian, the pinch at my heel
scar tissue deviating, cracking knuckles like the stem of a sunflower.
my hands want to run away from the earth. to grow 5’11. to be 6’2” in heels
i need to be a better sister, i need to call home

i hear jakey singing from the fruit bowl by the window sometimes
he asks me “when are you coming home?”