2 poems by Leigh Nishi-Strattner


Because She Looks Like a Deer Running

You told me to write a rap but I can’t spit rhymes, just pet dogs and feel wet grass with my fingertips. I tell you, Take your thigh gap and get the fuck out of my car but what I mean is, why won’t you stay here, let me smoke your cigarettes to keep awake, the longer I sleep the more I feel that this face is unacceptable. Too much flesh over my bones. I want to strip it away until I am clean and hollow and nothing.

C likes T but everyone is in love with her thin lips and long limbs.  She looks like a deer running. J and J love L for her red hair and her lips like peach slices, her skin covered in freckle dust like cinnamon iron oxide. The only thing I like about myself is the way my hands look when my fingernails are clean and long, or how my veins show cerulean under the bathroom light. Sometimes I imagine that I am a tooth. I have strong roots and I am made of bone. D gave his girlfriend two wisdom teeth made into earrings and I thought how that is the most romantic thing because he is giving away a piece of himself.

I wonder what it would feel like to reach inside myself and pull out a rib bone for you—wrap it in tissue paper or burlap. Would you put it on the shelf next to your bed or on the mantle with your mother’s photographs? Would you bury it in the dirt until it grew fingers of roots and became a white dogwood tree? We could sit underneath it in the summer and watch its leaves shrivel in the heat until it was time for all of us to leave, because you are tired and my knees are stained green and the white dogwood has to go home because its mother is worried about it.


i want to watch her eat a popsicle using all of her teeth

i am writing you a poem that doesn’t sound like a poem. it’s not about you so don’t get your hopes up. it sounds like music that doesn’t sound like music. it sounds like m’s night breathing or my dog lying on the linoleum, rolling his eyes. 

dogs and i get along because we have the same interests and we cost the same amount. it takes $35 to buy two scrawny chickens, a can of navy beans, a feast for dogs. they all wag their tails, lick marrow from each other’s chins. it costs $35 a month to buy pills that make me feel like washing my hair, not sleeping on the bathroom floor, swallowing whole bites of bread until my mother says slow down. dogs and i don’t get along because we’re not on the same diet. i only drink flower water, and at night my teeth bloom soft pink. there is no one here to pick them: the dogs have all gone home, their bellies swollen, their skins feel too soft to be standing outside. i tell m to come over and sit with me on the porch, hum a song like the ocean. it only has two words, but the words were both the same and maybe that’s why i remember it, or maybe i don’t remember it at all. i want to write poems with m at the kitchen table. when she sits at the breakfast nook her feet don’t touch the floor. i want to tell her, i call you freshly baked bread because you are perfect. i want to tell her, sugar ribs, come home and spoil me. 

Leigh Nishi-Strattner calls Portland home and loves reading books, fawning over dogs she meets, and any film with Anna Karina. In December 2013 she graduated suma cum laude from Seattle University with a degree in Creative Writing and Film Studies. She works as a publicity intern at Hawthorne Books and Indigo Press. She is dedicated to mastering the art of frying the perfect egg. After a year, she is a novice at best.

Photo courtesy of Photocapy via Creative CommonsFlickr

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