Issue 1 Issue 1 Poetry

What Builds Up

By Sarah B. Appel

When I’m questioning my own voice and the language it’s formed by, I look for the gaps. Places of rigor and obsession that shift the way I see picking at those wounds. It’s not that I want to be that ghost but I also don’t always want to be touched.

Awfully manipulative that fear and admiration. 

Might have been paralyzed in motion. One might say that. I wonder where the difference is. Less resistant and dirty, depraved, passing secrets. They swear it was a spirit – an apparition that burnt and hacked away at them until they choked each other up. 

Those fears no longer matter – I want to misbehave.

If a parasite misbehaved it would suck no one dry. That organizing of thought as infrastructure enacts this rooting – partially eaten things that change surrounding structures of predation. No longer sure what they keep themselves bent over, they are the spies no one meant to make. And this thing of moving people away from dirt is not a metaphor. But the facts of their cuts and holds bring nothing back. 

It just hurts wrestling control of yourself.


As long as I’ve been alive, there have been reasons to explode my own colon. Antibodies wade these waters, convinced that their intestines belong to the environment outside. Nowhere near or around what is built up sloppily as the body. 

There are responsibilities in the objects we keep of things that sway between our comprehensions of them. Like the thought of bending toward the ground to find whole stories tied up in a bow presented as food. Bites jolt the memory and keel over my meat.

Soft thing in the knees that could kill a person. 

But I still use this energy when I wake up alone and take possession of another body. Straddle between there and other places to get scorched and cool down. To shift channels of my body away from the ocean and leave a trail of spit in the air for the cells of them which are still intact on the surface. 

That amount of control hardens.

Will our sacrifice be the terrain we have struggled over? I guess my father was tired of being used against his own walls too, and walking on snow he’d shoveled away. A corner of territory unmarked, melting down and binding itself to the side of a mountain. Loosening agreements of bargaining to collectively ascend. 

The light in the kitchen finally goes out. 

These territories map our channels of focus. Not talking about it is the calcification of a weapon as gendered as the pace and distinction of leisure and convenience. Seasonal as textile or the reasons to spend time outdoors and a fascination with the nature of a body engaged to something. Layers of inculcation generating impossible matter and forcibly eating their own numbers. 

Let the currents complain about it, the architects say, no one understands them. 

Sarah B. Appel is a South Philly-based poet who received her BFA in Poetry from Pratt Institute with a minor in performance. She lives with two feline life partners and generations of lead build-up in her water pipes. She writes on subjects of sexuality, family, capitalism, living with chronic illness, power dynamics and generally attempts to interpret the politics of her life.