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Candice Wuehle


i never said it was okay
and so i never felt the shame
of having said it was okay. Living
in the bowl of a mountain
town, i believed
in my own weather. i wore a utilitarian wreath,
a uniform gauze. i can tell when
wind will turn
by the twisting
of the fabric
around my hips. They thought i was magic
in reverse. The stage sprite who swings
the spell–imagine a thread from my fingertip tied to the pupil
of the sorcerer, imagine the crooked jerk
of the index. But i did not draw the eye.
i was the eye.
When i clapped my wings, i was the feather
and the air compressed. Hell's accordion breathes
the breath of heaven.
i never said it was okay
                      sǝɥʇɐǝɹq uoᴉpɹoɔɔɐ s,llǝH ˙pǝssǝɹdɯoɔ ɹᴉɐ ǝɥʇ puɐ
to be inside another's atmosphere.
                              ɹǝɥʇɐǝɟ ǝɥʇ sɐʍ ᴉ 'sƃuᴉʍ ʎɯ pǝddɐlɔ ᴉ uǝɥM

marriage fetishist // heroine

So i became the wall's bride. There
was so much talking
about the veil that i developed a dark
room technique to erase the face
other faces meet. Several secret stitches
at the hairline to fasten myself
to the minute before memory: a self–styled
caul, witchless spell. Every birt
h mark is avant garde but
my groom cannot be reconciled
to the tastes of time. My groom fears
clearings. He asks me to touch him
like he is a maze. Cornered,

i became the knife that every month cuts the light
from the moon. i abuse my protractor; i abuse
my measuring tape. i remake my glowing gown
out of beams. Garbled architecture; melting
church; mirror in the floor
reflecting the space between my throat and jaw:
root of the tongue. How vow
is the sound of curling around curling. The hottest

ribcage i

as i walked to the roof i imagined all the spindles in new york cityy. the best way to enter hell would be through the back door. shadow and oil, i wasn't yet on my third body when i decided to become a veil.

later they would say sick stuff. they would say i wanted to be a fashion photographer. because: i ate tubes of lipstick to have red teeth, a hard wax throat too resolute to penetrate. so: i grew out of red and into black and white. i vomited revlon until i was the lead with which i wrote my name and so i squeezed through sharp places until my shavings fell about my feet, until i was a shrill smudge. & they would say i wanted to be a fashion photographer. gross.

as i walked to the roof i became able to imagine a map of life done in sketch. i became the thumb on the left hand of an engaged woman. covvered in a fine sheen, beautiful grease. the undersides of feathers, the exudations of a body becoming warm. listen, this is the clue that disproves the death. how do you tell the difference between a hot house and a mortuary? mushroom birth. listen, i'm the one who thumbed the city. i was birthed from a photo of a garden.

and they would say i was born out of a bottle of perfume. a nice stink, a curated rot. as if i menstruated resin. molasses. tar. listen closer, in the event you believe i am dead, investigate the editrix. she'll have answers to all your questions about the difference between a model's body and a body. she'll have a delicate treatise. an argument for how the bone should be outlined by the s ki n, a tract on the ribcage. a pin. the editrix will be able to prove her innocence with a droplette of blood, a small puncture in the finger pad of the mannequin. alive. a swatch of eau de nil. a reason why a replica of nature is most natural. her breath will smell like a vvine, a green grip.

as i walked to the roof i knew the only difference was in the destination. do you think this city is going anywhere? do you think the city of hell is going anywhere? do you think the city of heaven is going anywhere? i had lived through myself twice; i had made you enjoy my body as i enjoyed my body. i had protected my bones, reinvented the heart in the shape of a twirl. i guess they called me a fashion photographer for thisfor loving for imagining m y im age beside an unvased calla lily. a stalk and mask; the bloom of a second face. for pointing out how unemptied the room was when i was in it.

and they would say i meant to disappear. garde a l'eau. as if i would ever orphan myself, as if i didn't have another form.

i am so vain and i am so //

            masochistic how can they coexist?

A slit in the artery of the city
looses the plasma: glo
bule ensconced, slick as models
or fish. Sequined ethics
flash across the screen and if you believe
in everything you see, you will believe
light is in love with the disco ball.
You will have to give up
on the planets, on believing in the dark
beam between the eclipse and the ear
th. vince, imagine if i loved myself as little
as this city dressed in the costume of another
city. Vague Paris, dim Saturn. Obviously, i don't
believe in boundaries; don't let them
bury me in the rings
of New York Cityy.
. Tell them i said
i'm going to hang, suspended
organelle in the metropolitan cell. Tell
them i will be here not being
blonde, not reflecting in the surface
of their mirrors. When i tap them
on the shoulder, they won't know how beautiful
i am. They'll wonder why the water
is filled with light. Phosphorescent
stutter, universal tongue.

am i in the picture //

            am i getting in it or out of it

This has all been a long joke about clothing.
Metaphysical gurgle, the glottal click of the door
to the throat as it unlatches its flesh
lock to prove the body. Admit me
with my ankles covered, admit i unsober
the spirit of propriety with my heretical prom
dress: teenage royalty
trashing the king
dom of heaven. Heaven, who loves crowns
enough to make a hat of light, and so
it takes a body to wear a halo. How hilarious
is it to be as beautiful as a statue for no reason
but to stand very still and be naked in front
of everyone, to pin the pleated fabrics to the wall
to force them to concede there is no out
fit with out a body in the flat rag to ergo
agree it takes a body to photograph the existence
of an angel unless it's an angel took
the photograph. Buzzy theft, missing

Candice Wuehle is the author of the full–length collections DEATH INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX (Action Books, 2020) and BOUND (Inside the Castle Press, August 2018) and the chapbooks VIBE CHECK (Garden–door Press, 2017), EARTH*AIR*FIRE*WATER*ÆTHER (Grey Books Press, 2015) and curse words: a guide in 19 steps for aspiring transmographs, (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Poems from DEATH INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, appear in Best American Experimental Writing 2020, Black Warrior Review, The Bennington Review, and The New Delta Review.