for Abe Sada

If anyone knows how to make dangerous love
on knuckles and knees to the pluck of a shamisen,
its chords quivering like skeletons—its you.

It’s 1930 Japan and you must have spat
like a yakuza, a little-razor-tongue misfit
from the old bordellos of Tobita Shinchi
and Edo’s Yoshiwara

You are more than a slash of lipstick.
You are cult myth; the spider tattoo
across a geisha’s shoulder blade like a claw.
You need no pistol camouflaged
in a silk boudoir to control men.

When I was seventeen a lover threatened
to kill himself on the bathroom floor,
held me down as I slashed the air with my hands.
He stalked me like a hound for weeks.

I can still see his Volvo watching
my bedroom window from across the street.
The midnight telephone calls as I shivered in the corner.

I took him back like a thirsty dog and when he left again,
without my hips fasten to his—hysteria,
the kind that throbs and tears, leaving me
lonelier than a shriveled root.

As I sit alone on the dark writing table,
I stare at a painting of you in a book.
You’re breasts aglow, taut as a mauve plum,
naked body round and fattened,

lit up with a kind of shine as if you’ve eaten
something so holy and satisfying.
You have just killed your lover
in a Shibuya love hotel. Tied his limbs,

told him to lie face down on a tatami mat
until tamed like a fish in a quiet pond
then wrapped an obi around his throat,
waited for droplets of sweat to simmer

above his lips, the gesture of his head
that told you don’t stop.
When his body went limp you held a knife
in your salty palms and carved through neon veins.

I confess I have found love in torment,
allowed it to wash over me and swell inside
like a drug. I still don’t know how to survive it,

and there are nights, in silence,
where I fiend for its wreckage but I am no
warrior and this is why I write on the ruddy page.

by Angela Peñaredondo


Born in Iloilo City, Philippines, Angela Peñaredondo is a poet and artist from Los Angeles, California. Currently, she is completing an MFA program in Creative Writing from University of California Riverside, where she is a Gluck Fellow. Her work has appeared in 20×20 Magazine, Global Graffiti, The Poet’s Billow, Noyo River Review, upcoming in Solo Novo. Angela’s work was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She was also awarded a University of Los Angeles California’s Community Access Scholarship in poetry, Fishtrap Fellowship and a Mendocino Coast Writers Conference Scholarship. She received first runner-up for the 2012 Atlantis Poetry Award.

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