Jill Mceldowney

Music From a Burning Piano

I have decided that the air has a god and his name is gravity. Let me live down its punishment here where I fall and break several ribs, puncture a lung.

                                                                           My breath slurs to a stop like a frail door’s yawn to quiet—I hear a piano begin to play itself. I am only half here and

after      this,   I
will never take a breath without thinking of you. There are ways to feel different than I do right now but—what’s the last thing you remember of fear, horse? I will make you sorry for the blood spidering the back of my throat, the bursts of stars splitting my face, the smell of gasoline is imaginary.
Fuck the horse.          

It’s not about the horse. It never was. It’s about how I am going to teach you what you’ve taught me of anger, how I must be cruel to survive, how anger is crows made of barbed wire, starvation, ketamine—the sky is lit with their wings.

Or maybe I’ll blackout—

maybe I’ll wake
believing I am still alive in the same way I was before
                                                                                        I was speared to the ground by the horse or I will think about the inside of an apple and how its fever red animal body cannot lie like I lie when I offer it to you, my palm face up:
                                                                         “Come here. I promise I will never hurt you.”

You have me trapped between the part of me that doesn’t want to watch, that part of
don’t make me
and the part that is climbing to her feet, thinking of that old trick to train horses:

    break a bottle of wine over a horse’s head to convince him he is drowning in his own blood.

I am going to make you believe,
that I can kill you
if I want
                music I will cut you open, set you on fire. Listen for the music from a burning piano.

You begin to speak as my hand closes around the neck of a glass bottle.
You are just standing there. You say “You never loved me—“

And how can you say that to me
                                                                                  when I would’ve done anything for you?

Jill Mceldowney is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Airs Above Ground (Finishing Line Press) as well as Kisses Over Babylon (dancing girl press). She is a co founder and editor of Madhouse Press as well as a recent National Poetry Series Finalist. Her previously published work can be found in journals such as Muzzle, Fugue, The Sonora Review, Whiskey Island, and other notable publications.