Beast // Never Been

stiletto  girl   /   flip  my  hair  &  wink  girl   /  lace  &  French 
manicure  girl /  hand  job  for  the  Lobster  Thermidor girl / 
cherries  in  my  drink  girl / People   Magazine  girl /   other 
cheek  girl / hold my  breath girl / suck in my stomach  girl / 
hold  my  hand  girl /  hold  my  hand  cuz  I’m  scared  girl / 
scared girl / scared of this mouth or this knuckle or this gun 
or death or you or anything girl

          Anointed          deified          pampered          blessed          

cherished       coddled        sanctified         hallowed         


                                 Never          wanted that,          anyhow.

to  the  moon  or  to  the  deep  end  of  City  Pool  or  to  my 
mama’s  mama’s  grave  or  to  Lebanon or to Glasgow or to 
culinary arts school or to prison or to the Guggenheim or to 
my first husband’s  funeral  or  to  my  mama’s  funeral or to 
my rapist(s) funeral(s) or  to  my first love who tried to cut a 
gash in my throat but instead I laughed in his face’s  funeral 
or to hell

Boiled.  De-beaked.  Plucked.   Skinned.   Ground.  Starved. 
Branded.    Hooked.     Drowned.    Electrified.    Immolated. 
Gorged. Gagged. Clubbed. Gassed. Bolted. Exsanguinated. 
Fried. Basted. Battered.


Secret Written from inside a Piranha’s Mouth*†

He prefers winter.  Prefers cabernet.  Steak.  Blondes.   Prefers ass.  Fake nails and glossy 
lips.   Juicy.    Stilettos.   Prefers silence.    And Comedy Central.   IPAs.   American football. 
Prefers bareback. Under 30. Commando. Prefers I know his preferences. Prefers not to be 
bothered  with  mine.  Prefers I keep  things quiet.  Keep things to  myself.  Sinks his teeth 
and  shreds.  Prefers  the spotlight  be  his alone.  Dims  the room  and  all the  people in it. 
Prefers his teeth sharp. Prefers a little blood in his soup.


* Piranhas are omnivorous freshwater fish with powerful jaws and serrated teeth known to dilacerate prey.  
† Piranhas practice cannibalism under extreme conditions.


The Most Dangerous Game

“Best sport in the world.”
“For the hunter.”
	     —Richard Connell 

When he tells you about Joani, you cringe. 
                          Her dragging eyelids and thirst for bullets.	
             How she did it in front of him.

You come to understand his contempt for women.
			             Appetite for skin.

Amanda full of pills. Nikki emptied at the wrist. 
                             Christa gassed in a Ford Explorer.


Later, in the courtroom, you are asked to reenact:
                                                Hold the knife 
				                the way he held it.
       Say the words 
       the way he spoke.

Years pass. He makes parole.
			              Police suggest you move away.

              you brush your hair, find your best dress.

Lock up the knives.
				               Open each window.


This poem borrows its title and epigraph from the short story by Richard Connell (Collier’s, 1924).

Jeanann Verlee

Jeanann Verlee

Jeanann Verlee is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow and the author of two books, Said the Manic to the Muse and Racing Hummingbirds, which was awarded a silver medal in the Independent Publisher Awards. Her third book, prey, was first runner-up for the 2016 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award and will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2018. She is a recipient of the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize, and her work appears in Adroit, Yemassee, BOAAT, and BuzzFeed Reader, among others. Verlee wears polka dots and kisses Rottweilers. She believes in you.
Jeanann Verlee

Latest posts by Jeanann Verlee (see all)