Apartment Poetry Quarterly

10A              10B              10C              10D              10E              10F


10B Lilly Duffy





The face has often felt

It owns nothing.




I am so young. Everything moves across me. I receive my weather from the elements of both worlds, and I sense when I am seen. Reaction is my living. The one who lives through me believes she is me, and this is the first act of self-betrayal. 





The problem breathes and holds certain

Fantasies accountable, spread like frost

Across streets, houses, bouts of excess

Product application or pale gardening. Thickens the dream 














Standing by the door in his hotel room, he looks me in my eyes and reaches out to touch a large,


bleeding pimple on my chin. Wipes the blood with his thumb, his thumb on his pants. I am steps

behind, the thumb stuck, imprinting itself on my face (the pimple gains a heartbeat). His eyes slightly


wet, mine pounding. The hair on his face edged sharply, a little graphic, but—his eyes are kind.


This poem’s got a naturally-occurring cleft in it where I might turn, if I could, away from its narrative.


It takes place in an irregularly-shaped room, roughly 20 x 15, with a table by the door. On the table, a modern


cornucopia spills chips, nuts, and granola bars; fruit snacks and drink packets, all trailing to a badge


with his name on it (a silent request that it be examined (turned around several times in the mouth) before


spoken). Across from the table is a window facing an icy courtyard with a birdbath at its center, crumbling


like no bird’s ever touched it. The toilet’s running, been running since I got here. When I ask him if


he’s called about it, he says he doesn’t hear it, that that’s just the way toilets sound in his experience.



I drop him off at the university where he will attend a conference, a smear of blood and pus


on the crotch of his khakis. 37 days later, when we meet in a hotel room in another city, he sucks the spot


where the pimple had been; I fly home with a mark in the shape of his mouth on my chin.














“I like your nose


—your big nose”


“You’re loud and proud. It’s hot, it’s very attractive”


“I did wonder about your ethnicity. I had some ideas”


“If someone made a silhouette of you, there’d be no mistaking”


“It does possess a sort of nobility”


“I’m sure you’ve been told it’s a flaw, but to me, it’s beautiful”


“Irish? Not with that schnoz!”


“I thought you were Jewish when I saw you. Because of your


(gestures toward his own face with index and middle fingers diverting)


















I feel most beautiful in fall, at which point I sense my soul drop

Like a veil over my face














“I am my own friend”


The thought insane, muscular, growing out of me like a limb


I sit immediately down to eat. Mouth opens, emits a sound like something husked


An interest in common names with unusual spellings—“Krystina,” for example, exists less when heard, more when written


She’s wearing a mask when she answers the door, eyes crinkled; someone’s sick


As you speak with a person, you might notice you’re surrounded by some type of debris. Might notice yourself playing with it


I was singing to a crowd of crying family members in a parking lot. Then, I opened my eyes, said the clerk, polishing a tomato on his shirted belly before it passes into the bag


I often think of myself as being “wrung.” As in:


You tell me I’m tired, but actually, I’m angry.


I’m going to rub your back and stroke your hair until you sleep.