Three Poems by Chana Porter


Sadie Scheffer
Sadie Scheffer

Spider and I 


So just like that, I’m in a room filled with ghosts. To paint you a picture, the room is fairly shabby, wall paper peeling, floor creaking with disrepair. The ghosts don’t mind, they’re busy setting up for a name day party. They place ghostly deviled eggs on ornate ghostly platters. Drip drip drip go the pipes.

A tiny spider scurries across the scarred floorboards and in an instant it swells,

growing huge with a warm, human face.

David! I cry. David, it’s so good to see you! Omigosh, I didn’t expect to see you here! And I had no idea you were a spider!

 David gathers me up in his lightly furred arms, velvet covered branches gently closing around me. I tense for an instant and then lean into his fuzzy insect body. Being held in a supportive cage feels so nice.

David, I croon, when did you become a spider??! Omigosh how is it??

Oh, it’s fine. He says. It’s really good.

I’ve been following your career, I say. I get all of these updates about shows and the like. But, are you happy? I mean, with the direction of things? Your successes?

He snorts. Or lack of successes, you mean. Then he looks at me very deeply with his fuzzy spider face and says “Happiness is the realism of God in the heart. Happiness is the praise and the thanksgiving, of faith, of acceptance, a quiet, tranquil realization of the love of God. God is happiness.”

So I stay in his arms, cradled, while the ghosts busy themselves with their name day party. Fillius drank too much rum and had to be taken to lay down. Meredith cried in the corner about no one ever throwing her a name day party until Zadie gave her a plate of deviled eggs stuck with little candles and she blew them out, singing.

David and I just stood together like we were slow dancing, out of place in the room full of ghosts. I confided in him that my lover Nadia was concerned about my time spent among those with no earthly concerns. It’s not healthy, she said one night, and took the duvet to sleep on the sofa. It’s not healthy, this preoccupation with the dead. They’re just like us, I sighed. They had their dreams and desires and personal vendettas. I guess it’s comforting to me. To be without desire. Only to want for rum and eggs and flowers in my hair. The mundanity of it all, of what we’re left with. Like so many little animals.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?




Taking Magic Mountain

We rode up together like streaks of ants

a forest, we were

unbridled misanthropy

the air beetling with other languages

dozens of them or perhaps only two

reduced to a solvent murmur

words have weight like armor

solid heavy objects rolling on my tongue

I wasn’t born to be a soldier.


I was born to be a goat

rollicking from rock to rock,



I was born to live under the ocean

to better understand the weight of water.


At night he cups my sex in his coarse palm

we take turns finding new ways to put ourselves in each other.


My last lover was too tenderhearted

He was bitten by a snake while taking Magic Mountain

the sensible urgent thing was to cut off his leg with a sword

but we didn’t.

The poison wormed its way to his heart

and he died in my arms, cursing.


You can say, isn’t it better not to get attached

Revealing that you’ve never been to battle.

I get attached to everyone

Death makes lovers of us all.


When I get home I’ll marry M

and have those five red headed children we laughed about

that night in the plaza M took off her clothes to better mimic the statue

I almost died on the spot from too much Good Will and Loving Kindness


At night we put ourselves into each other

on the high grasses

away from the mud.


I think of becoming a deserter of my own life.

become a sheep who leap from cliff to cliff

never wear shoes or eat flesh or speak again.



Portrait of the artist as a teenage alien

for Erik Ehn

Portrait of the artist as a teenage alien

her senior yearbook picture overlapping aura with muscle, skin

previous haircuts superimposed with pictures grade 7 grade 8 grade 5th grade 6th

aura and muscle and bones and pictures and and and and and

a portrait of your mother as she hoped life would turn out.

a portrait of your alternate reality, if you did this instead of that, and turned left instead of right. Here, and here, and here and here.

Portrait of the life you never had, where you said fuck it all and went to live in the jungle with the bonobos.


Portrait of your dead dog

when he was just a puppy and you were just a child wearing her father’s raincoat

it was lightly misting in the yard that day and oh it felt pure

you don’t remember the joy you felt but you suspect you felt joy

“we can get a dog, really? he’s coming today, really?”

overlapped with a portrait of you smiling for your driver’s license, late at 17

conjoined with your father as a blonde boy with a bowl haircut, taken from a locket

next to a clipping of your mother’s hair


Now, place everyone you ever loved into a time capsule

seal it up tightly and know that no one will ever find it

Bury your darkest secrets in the unsuspecting earth

cover them with your darkest leanings, your manic terrified dreams

how you got up again last night again to stroke a sleeve of your bathrobe hanging on a door jam because you had to make certain it wasn’t a man in the doorway, looming.

And then what would you have done, half drunk with sleep, stroking the arm of the person looming in your doorway?


And then what?


What is the most terrible thing you would do to another person trying to hurt you and your loved one sleeping in your small bed?


(insert the most terrible thing you could ever do here)


Don’t you feel better, now that you got it out.


Portrait of your clean face after a long cry.


Now burn all the portraits down into a chalky ash.

Mix the ashes with a little water in the palm of your hand, forming a smooth paste

Draw on your face with made-up runes. These runes empower the stripping of your desires and dissolve the very things that make you you, your troublesome youness

Allow a stranger to wash your face.

Imagine your face at five years old.

Imagine your face at ten years old.

Imagine your face at 20 years old, at 30.

At 40 and 60 and 80

as a dancing skeleton on the hard cold earth.

Sit with the emotions you’re feeling now.

Distill them down into a shade of paint.

Cover your walls with this color.

allow the morning sun to bleed new life into your certainty



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