3 poems by Cathleen Allyn Conway

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Her Name

 

was a charm to ward off spirits. 

She’s an obsession: pure and sweet and chaste, 

the sort to follow doom around with a guidebook. 

 

She killed everyone she loved, stared into that golden 

furnace, thinking her mad virgin flesh wouldn’t burn. 

She fled to a convent, and I sent back the key:

 

I gave her a demon when she took her orders. 

I’m always trying to pry them apart, 

like children caught in angry mobs. 

 

Their names became one word that don’t belong together. 

Sometimes the truth is worse. The worst is to come,

if only for the few seconds her name is on my tongue.


 

Her Twilight World

 

Look, I know you feel like shit and you should feel like shit.

 

You are going to get well, I just know it. 

 

Your blood is such a personal, intimate thing. 

 

You’re good and kind; you really care about people. 

 

No wonder everyone loves you. 

 

I hate you so fucking much. 

 

Remember the time I tried to take that boy away from you? 

 

I would have killed someone for doing that to me. 

 

I’d never even kissed a boy before. 

 

Meeting him is the only good thing to happen to me. 

 

But you were always the one, sinking deeper and deeper into twilight language. 

 

I’d have been happy to just go on kissing you all night long. 


 

Control

 

Me and my friend had this bet in eighth grade over who’d lose it first. 

 

She was a disease you could catch, as if it were stuck in amber, 

practically pregnant before I got my first kiss. 

 

I must have imagined that glossy sheet of black hair 

fitting her head like a helmet… strange little potbelly.

 

All virgins have rounded little bellies, 

her skin a pink still burning from the bath.

 

Going to the bathroom in front of each other means 

we have no secrets. We dream of boyfriends but only 

 

feel comfortable with arms around another girl’s waist.

A white pigeon flew by and saved her with a magic key,

 

she didn’t become middle-heavy with leathery skin, 

frosted hair, dirty clothes, stockings with runs.

 

I totally would be a slut if I could get away with it:

gilded waltzing cocks, wet plumage through my rooms. 

 

I’ve never done any of that. 

Now I have them. They just come out; I can’t control them.


Cathleen Allyn Conway (she/her) is a creative writing PhD student at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of Static Cling (Dancing Girl Press, 2012), All the Twists of the Tongue (Grey Book Press, 2018), and American Ingénue (Broken Sleep Books, 2021). Originally from Chicago, she lives in London with her partner and son. Find her on Twitter @CatAllynC.