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Convalescence, With Flames

By Leslie Contreras Schwartz


I light no candles and entertain no thoughts.

My bed loves me and sheds me down as I turn


& turn with a sweaty face, the velvet underworld

pulling me with its roots. Wrists wrapped in beads of rosary.


I light no candles for you, fool with your rolled-up eyes,

coins over your sockets. I twist and cough and sigh,


my unprayer, unlighting. No one with light

may enter this room. No one with candles and springs,


pulsing with daylight and flames, confetti and caked-on makeup,

wrinkling their eyelids in jest.


I want mascara brimmed lakes racooning the face. The shut-up shiver

and knees that break and fumble through pitch, half-busted.


I light no candles and want none lit on my behalf.


It’s the shedding that beds me

and turns me down.


The bed’s sweat the honest friend, shedding

niceties with rank down. Unprayer,


torn from twisted and fallow



A cough born from godfeet,

the last dreg of her wine.


What the present feeds, mud seep and fester.

It speaks of presence. It speaks of here.


Leslie Contreras Schwartz is the author of Who Speaks for Us Here (Skull + Wind Press, March 2020), and the Houston Poet Laureate.