Three Poems - Lisa Locascio

Lisa Locascio's work has appeared in The Believer, Bookforum, n+1, Santa Monica Review, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and on the Tin House website. The recipient of many awards and honors for her writing, which has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, translated into Italian, and anthologized, she is the first Anglophone writer to be granted an interview by Roberto Bolaño's widow Carolina López, a project which earned mention in The New Yorker and The Los Angeles Times. She holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and a MFA in Fiction from New York University and has taught at USC, UCLA, Colorado College, Mount Saint Mary's University, and New York University. Lisa is Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan University, co-publisher of Joyland Magazine, and editor at 7x7, a magazine of ekphrastic collaboration between artist and writers. Her anthologies Golden State 2017: The Best New Writing from California (Outpost19) and Retro 5: The Best of Joyland (Joyland) will be published in 2017. Her novel, Jutland Gothic, will be published by Grove Atlantic in 2018.

 photo by  Patrick Gookin |

photo by Patrick Gookin |


The way he said “Auschwitz.” “Sibelius.” “Belle Isle.” “I love you.” “Turtles.”

A purple condom on the first dick I ever saw. A video camera in that same basement. A boy with bleached hair and Rivers Cuomo glasses.

Anorexia. Black hair dye. A violin hickey, festering and ripe. Hanging out in the hammock with a third party, getting fingered. Doing it in an alley in January right before first period in ninth grade. A garbage truck full of pleather from Hot Topic. Black lipstick. A kilt I had to buy for him, which could only be kept in a plastic bag in someone’s trunk for unspecified dad reasons.

The serial killer vista of a grown man’s living room with only a dress form for furniture.

The act of opening the car door, of closing it.

The way he closed his eyes and wept “No” when I asked him to go down on me. More than once, more than one man.



I wanted to ask you in bed. I couldn’t anywhere else. Not when I had you in front of me, chair to chair in my office, not the one time we were in a house I did not own. Not after, while I drove you home. Not when I let you out of the car I didn’t own, either, and watched you go inside, and not in the photographs of you I saw. After. 

The question wasn’t with me then. It bloomed as I read letters we wrote to each other. A ribbon woven through the textile of our exchange. I traced that ribbon. Imagined binding your wrists with it.

You and I might lie in bed in such a way that I could inquire as to your feelings on such a binding. Might find ourselves bound, might bind. But you didn’t have to do it with me if you didn’t want to, not ever. The space in which I would learn was what drew me. Your breath moving your hair. Mine.

So I lit the fire beneath the cauldron. Tossed in a stocking, fingernail and pubic clippings, my caution. Pissed and bled in, let it boil all weekend. Soon enough the smoke would wind around your fine ankles, up to those smooth-boned wrists, slipping eventually over your head. We’d be there together, wrapped up gold, and you’d tell me.

If you liked it. Like it. If you think about it—the rope or cord, twisting. If it is something you do to yourself, or might do to me, or would allow me in my mind to do to you. All I wanted was to know if you liked it, thought about it, the way that I think about it, too. A lasso, tying us together.



You don’t know what I do with the memories you give me. Like flying. Like you like it. I mean. The dreamiest night of my life, maybe? Struggling with myself in every bathroom. I’m glad you liked my dress.

I’d show you the primordial way. To make you feel good. To be in your thrall. Darling oh you don’t know I trust you. I’ll take off my clothes. I’m warm enough now.

Yes. Vulnerability is power. I know.

Brutal intelligence, huh? Certainly it feels brutal. I go dark places full of light. (Pity the fools in the dark, said the oracle.) 

After all this I feel minimalist and ecstatic. Another human body! I’d die.

I liked feeling so alive. And everyone as sleepless and jumpy as me.

You aren’t coming unless you do. Until I can come only by imagining your humiliation. Do you want that?

At dusk I’ll take a walk around the river, repeating, “God is with me.”

At dawn I will burn you from my life unless you stop me.

Not you. My little pink heart I’ll burn.

I’m not asking, I’m saying. I know. Now that I belong to you, I know everything.