Amanda Oaks

Lei or Choke Chain

I throw your name     around my neck
all the blood     in body     quickens     
waterfront eyes     catch     backwater stare     
dreams of     brine     barge     bay     out     
& at     the mouth of     always     & never     
the target     bullet shy     wears     roundabout     
like halo     like circular     lifting off     in
the wind     the strength     of feelings     
a throwaway     but     from what     & where     
honey     drips slow     like sleep     it off     
wake up     to head     a boat     of buzz     
bombilation     between legs     flowers     
drumming for     the sting     the backtalk     
sliding from     the brim     of your bottom     
lip     it wasn’t until     looking into your eyes
felt like my breath     was being     buried
inside your chest     that  I noticed     the way     
my hands     trembled     when     my face     
would     lean in     & mine the air     for
your scent     what     does anyone     do
with all of this     anyway     I’d ask her     
but     the yank      might break     a neck     
her’s     mine     yours     all of them so    
full     of beg     of     pull off     my petals     
pants     pooch out     lips     or     purse in     
heart     it’s no matter     when     a flowerbed     
can forget     & become     a graveyard— can     
blank out     without     saying


Amanda Oaks is the founding editor of Words Dance, an independent press + biweekly online poetry journal. Her work has appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal, decomP, Lunch Ticket, & Stirring, among others. She is the author of five poetry collections: Hurricane Mouth (NightBallet Press, 2014), her co-authored split book, I Eat Crow (Words Dance, 2014), & her series of free eChapbooks. Her newest chapbook, The River is Everywhere, was published by Red Flag Poetry in 2017. You can follow her on