Three Poems by Karen Lepri

Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari

Toilet Paper, January 2011. Concept and images by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari. All images printed by permission of the publisher, Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art. Distributed by ARTBOOK | D.A.P.


We begin here near Times Square 
You shaking me looking at her or her 
Shaking you looking at you and me looking 
We kick over arrangements of broken glass 
Collected from the gutters of the roads 
Converging here amid the lights of early night 
Commit to a mess there will never be enough 
To go around or excuses to braid into breath 
Mid-intersection the giant whelk gives birth 
To smaller ones who also give birth right there 
The honking and the flashes of cameras 
We are trapped with our street ephemera 
In our hands our hands bleeding holding back 
Our heads as if our heads were bleeding all along 
Had it not been for the sea-live birth show 
All the people would pay attention to the color 
Running down our skins



Looped finger 
          Lateral up & over
These trick roots

          Yanked hair it was
Like she was hung 
          Of a sudden

Unmarked tomb 
          Cheap gasps
Keeping on in coming

          Bottled rose
For waking up 
          When carbon drops

Prepped hurricane 
          Her thick lair
Unlike words the through-oh

          Rapid beats
These hands insisting 
          Not a pronoun noun


Feigned Psychosis

Would work like this 
Twittering cold & 
Dune spree shoeless 
Hiding underwater 
Bonfire the books 
& notebooks & blanks
Any record of knowing 
Freud, Lacan, dust 
Rub my hands raw 
On the clothesline 
You wouldn’t tell 
You’d be committed 
My fantasy capture 
Lacking animo 
A return to fucking 
Regularly blinds up 
Deckhand for life 
Have you made dough 
Day honey jar it 
Some abuse choired 
Or a low iron diet 
Use the pink tape 
Trip layer please 
Don’t make me tell

Karen Lepri is the author of Incidents of Scattering (Noemi, 2013) and the chapbook Fig. I (Horse Less Press, 2012). She received the 2012 Noemi Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in 6x6, Boston Review, Chicago Review, Conjunctions, Lana Turner, Mandorla, and elsewhere. Lepri teaches writing at Queens College CUNY.

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