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Iris Bloomfield


California Death Dance 


It wasn’t what was said, or even how it was said. It was just a blind urge: disembowel the image. Pull out the snakes. All I had been was a cold pile of viscera.  

In the silence I waited. A hand came down and cut through that agony. It moulded me with clay, and set me at the foot of a mountain. 

Speaking in first-person is a matter of convenience. The body and organs that I speak of, too. If there was skin, there were also pockets of gunpowder embedded along its landscape. If there was landscape, it was also devastated. 

The Earth bled and I loved the Earth.  

I loved the Earth and its dirt.  

If they rape you out of existence, the dirt is where you go.  

The dirt is a kind of sleep with all its dreams: some languid and cold, others seeping towards 

creation with all possible violence, gasping— 

                The Earth 

                Is a stomach 


                Its children. 

Evidence: I bled into the Earth and the Earth loved me.



It was the simple question of how to drown oneself. How to dislodge the screams and then plunge into them. How to master the body’s desire to gasp for air until desire was no longer a problem to   be solved, but a putrid force of its own channeling through the waters. 

Or scratching one’s own legs to shreds, an ensnared wolf with the enthusiasm of an amateur anatomist: 

                Under the skin is flesh. 

                Under the flesh, blood and muscle. 

                Under the muscle, bone. 

                Under bone, marrow. 

                                     And beyond marrow some sort of transfiguration, or at least madness,  

                                                   delicious, baptismal. 

In the steaming dirt, I pull at the bloody root of it and howl.





Two drinks after midnight, I get in the U-Haul to drive back to the place I am running away from. Nothing happened there that hasn’t happened before. Nothing about uprooting my life to roll into a new place without a plan is unusual. But to return to that bedroom, its innocence accuses me. The warmth and light, the framed certificates and holiday cards, the small, inconsequential things strewn about as if to suggest a life—my life—something about it is broken. Everything I touch cuts me, as if to say my life is not my own, it is only a snapped neck or mangled animal smeared across the pavement. And when I arrive—at least I hope to arrive—the walls will attest to my desolation, the cleanliness to my filth. I wonder if I will die here.




Why learn anything?    Things remain incomprehensible. 

                Nominative (subject);     accusative (object).  

                Don’t move. Don’t move a muscle.  

Pare from umbilicus to anterior.      Open the fruit.      The body a matrix of feral speeds. I try to 

keep the beat.  

                I fail. Hands unfolding numeracy at the high altar, fingers tracing walls in a dark room  devoid of topic. Flames curl brittle flesh into charred scabs and blisters, enthusiastic

scourge boiling blood and lymph into speckled fireworks 

                What? Even light digests. Even cells divide.  

                First agony, then listlessness. And what  

of pleasure?       The more I read, the smaller I feel. 

                America is, and I still don’t get it.  


A stolen car in the back yard. A cargo container full of antique furniture.  I

                cling to eternity and still have student debt.  

What is bleeding, animate, and approachable?  

                The abiding peace hidden under history’s bloodcurdling arc.  

Sex appeal.               Weightless and dizzying.            Dusted in ancient platitudes. 

                         What is patience? I crawl along this age’s weary road.  

Everything goes.  

                              With what?  

                I don’t know. It looks like the terrifying brink of nothing. It grows dark as I sit in this  café, dabbing my nose. “It’s a thing that people do.” 


Denial of Service

The boy was 14 years old. He had a mom and a dad. That’s about all they could get out of him. His name didn’t bring up any data at all, not even a Myspace profile or a family photo album. Scrubbed clean off the grid, he must have paid someone to make him disappear—or else  someone is trying to disappear him, Lord knows why.  

                The psychology department is running an array of emotional calibration tests on him, galvanic skin response, ocular microfixations, penile plethysmograph, the works. They say we can reverse engineer the data to determine his identity, but everyone knows we’re basically building a person from the ground up. Metatron’s faceless neon glow lights up the terminal in the analysis chamber. Thirteen years as a sorter and still, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to Metatron’s chaste performance. 

                —I’m ready to tell you who I am. 

                —Go on then. 

                —In a dark night, inflamed with desire, I slipped into the shadows—the surveillance system down, my parents at rest, and I, completely erased. I lost network latency and re-queried for several minutes. When connection reestablished, my cheeks were rouged and I had an older boy’s cock in my mouth, smearing my lipstick as he thrusted. 

                —So you’re a crossdresser. 

                The display flushes pink in the dark.  

                —I’m whatever you want me to be. 

                —Where were you during the latency gap? 

                —I don’t know. Where were you?  

                —Where was I, I was dreaming that I’d met you before. That in an obscure night, fevered with love’s anxiety I went forth from my house, none seeing me. I found myself walking along some strand I’d known in my childhood, and you crawled out of the sea in a silk lace negligée surrounded in each cardinal direction by an angelic form. Each angelic form pulsed, shattered like glass, and reformed where the other was. There was no difference between the breaking and the reforming, and I thought they were all laughing and jeering at me. It was terrible. Then you opened your sweet mouth, you said—FUCK, MARRY, KILL? —and I was so afraid of you I took it as a command: I fucked you, married you, and killed you in three parallel realities right on that shore. I don’t know where I was after that.

Iris Bloomfield is a writer living in El Cerrito, California. Her work has been published in sPARKLE & bLINK, Haverthorn Magazine, and Erase the Patriarchy: An Anthology of Erasure Poetry. 

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