Ryan Bollenbach

Dear Ornamental Fan,

Devotion is to yes as silk is to body. You are not the accessory I have imagined for myself. Obstruction is to mouth as the last seconds of thread to a spinning wheel. You are not whole without me as my legs cannot spread without the count of carnation’s petals. Shimmer is to gender as pinnate is to poison. You are merely spreading my innate heat as merely an ocean salts the miles’ shore. Magnificence. Flowering kisses. Circle is to sector as powder is to evaporation. Withholding elegance, as the light of a carafe and sugar from the mouth. You are not so much a metaphor for the umbra of noontime as you are an obstruction to charred skin. Reticence is to shadow. Migraine is to flight as gasoline is to hair product.


Dear Purple Umbrella,

To hold you. To swirl your metal tip in the bright bottom of coal fire. To use you to draw circular perforations on the flats of my palms. To walk in a rain of apples and feel their clatter. To batter and stretch. Your skin dins to your thin tin spine. The clack of two gears. To retreat the ribcage with a switch flick. Think it and do it. To bruise bone like ink on newspaper. To turn you and expose your skeleton to rain. To collect. To lap the water pooled inside your body. With tongue. To stretch your limbs and hold you in front of my face and disappear. To write my whole name with bitten nails. To hope it doesn’t rub off the blossom.


Dear Lavender Ribbon,

You are with me, always, and no one knows. You hold my right thigh tight. This is the skin I need to be a pretty thing, the skin slipped into. The dirtier side of purple, the bruised side of blue. You bathed in the muggier side of September, the salted white mast of a boat cutting breeze and the captain’s sweat. Carry the weight without ripping. You are the lock on the bridge over the canal. I want my eye to understand your body as if my lips to match its shape. I want the lock to open. I want to hide you in the back of my throat and pull you out at parties. I want to place you on the surface of a river and remake waves.


Ryan Bollenbach is the poetry editor for the Black Warrior Review. His work can be read or is forthcoming in Sixth Finch, the Mid-American Review, Knee-Jerk Magazine and Inter|rupture among others. Find him on twitter at @SilentAsIAm.