Three Poems//Sonya Vatomsky




The appropriate grieving period

of a romantic relationship

is its duration

multiplied by three; or divided.

In either case, long.

And for each piece of news we receive

the appropriate grieving period

must be logged with our cumulative sadness —

they did not teach me this

in Physics. Did not tell me fear eats

everything. Did not discuss the half-life

of anxious isolation

or how the burden just gets bigger

when you pass it along.

I thought we could take turns holding grief,

keep our arms from getting tired.

I thought we could set it down

for a while, at least.

Long ago, they washed ink off paper

and reused the pages

for new books. Now, with special lights

and special microscopes,

we can see the traces

of an original intent

that wasn’t even worth preserving.



















The trouble with anxiety is it always wins. My brown eyes,
my widow’s peak – everything else a recessive trait;
lab tests confirm it’s there
but damned if it’ll ever bubble up to the surface
and break skin like a second puberty.
Eventually I forget the suit jackets
and the boys’ names, the awkward attempts at masculinity
which is chivalry
which is buying my mother flowers
which is submission. Funhouse mirrors are broken clocks –
still right twice a day, and these wine-stained old rugs
are red carpets when the light hits just so. On the one hand, reality:
poor Narcissus at the pool-edge,
mistaking a trash heap for Pangea. On the other, I’ve taken action,
vomited up the monologue. Many mornings
I can see the things I would have accomplished
had I wrangled my diagnoses
into some kind of transcendence.


















What does it mean that I’ve slept with
more people than my mother? I keep


no ribbons in my hair though these
swelling hips monsoon androgyny,


wash away the first person til I am a
side-plot in someone else’s narrative,


ears ringing and phone silent and that
ovum’s needle pricking holes in the


firmament while skin spreads like
meringue in the cardinal directions.


Still, the sheets are caked with gore
and weather patterns. Still, the waves


beat on their breast in unison. Still, I
cough up air, inhale water, trace the


delta of my veins to its tenebrous crest.
If I am made to pay in blood I want the


land to witness. Let me be Noah. And
if not – then the flood.





Ipecac and Antibody were originally published in West Trade Review, 2015

Sonya Vatomsky is a Russian American non-binary artist with too many feelings on the inside and too much cat hair on the outside. They are a staff writer at Haute Macabre as well as the author of Salt Is For Curing (Sator Press, 2015). Say hello: Twitter, Instagram,