Throwback Thursdays! We’re bringing back some of our favorite pieces from the last 30 years of Scribendi.

Jeff Nissen- Washington State University – 1991


could it have been those midnight showers soaping the in-between places
those secret folds and eyelids


wearing an old shower curtain this whole world mapped out across your body


South America covers your crotch like a leaf the Caribbean melts into your hips

Mexico contours your navel

the Midwest stretches deserts across your chest neck arches back into the Arctic
water drips off your ears


your mouth moves into the shower head and steam floats
around your lips in circles
wafer overflows from your lower lip I think you must

                                 be drowning or thinking
about making love, we never could in those late night

                                 showers only after morning came
in through the blinds, the radio blaring static into

                                 our feet twitching into the static
you put coffee on, waking me with the pitter patter

                                 of your feet on the bathroom tile
those times when you would lock the door because you

                                 knew I was listening or pretending
to ignore you was impossible when you would accidentally

                                 leave your jeans unzipped
your skirt slit open at the hip and your eyes would
stare down info that secret glaze
unblinking on the highway we drove over wheat fields

                                 and lost ourselves in the rain
watching you mornings cooking tortillas in the antique

                                 microwave oven somebody died for
when the phone rings we fight and push each other

into the pale man in gray suit
into the mail box the driver’s seat

the check book
the dominant position
nights on the couch with you reading stories pretending

                                 we lived those lives
pretending we’d never heard of insurance payments

                                 phone bills, rent, distractions
eating away our lost hours with needles and threatening

                                 to turn the lights out
driving my motorcycle info old town cemeteries comparing
dates and names on gravestones living on pan dulce and dirty wafer winding           down mountains on trains which rattled over
our lips would trip over the same sentences mimicking

                                 our desires and concerns
standing behind you in the mirror combing the tangles

                                 from your hair
twisting info each other during cold winter mornings

                                 shaking one another out of dreams
your doe-eyes open on me and a lotus blooms when we

                                 speak of children


Life is hard enough without creating this language

                                 to tear into each other
in jokes and literary levels too deep to bother digging

                                 and untwisting feelings
at sea you’d send me letters with nothing on them but

                                 sketches etched around the tiny places
where your thighs shook into abstract smears hungry
to be understood
knowing that when my hands move around your body into

                                 those secret places
it’s only definitions these hands or these words trying
to explain
The everyday places
we live inside each other


  1. you wouldn’t speak to me driving home on late nights

                                 until I apologized for everything

we didn’t have

much money in those days

when your thighs would shake just talkin’ about fuckin’

                                 and we could not keep our tongues

as quiet as we do now all the early morning showers

                                 standing in the hot water together with our

alarm clock watching bus after bus travel past us

morning after morning hearing the pilfer patter of

feet above us on the next floor. Crows slamming through

the window as each morning we missed the sunrise until

it was May and I had already gone North again.


                                 But in those early days before we began
changing channels on the TV in a malicious way leaving

                                 lights on so there’d be something to talk

and argue about

maybe I locked you out one too many times

or lied on the phone about where you were so late

in my life how come I never stopped speaking to you

                                 in my father’s voice?

Knowing how far it’d gone when you brought home that

                                 damn farm kitten

trying to annihilate those hours when words slit too

                                 deep for simple children’s games

sometimes, after my most gruesome nightmares, I would

                                 only begin screaming after I’d woken up

terrified I might forget how to scare us both.
Remember when I stole that video-camera and spent

                                 my whole life recording every curve

in your body every angle in our apartment every place

                                 I could escape out the window?

I wanted to remember if it had always been like this

                                 and if things always changed

                                 or if God was on amphetamines

                                 and our lives just got put on fast-forward

sometimes we’d even hide books we’d read from each

                                 other afraid one of us might learn too much

about killing in a quiet way

                                 There was this obsession I had with puffing

the sheets back and trying to stare the secrets of

the night before out from inside the mattress but the

first time I was looking for got lost somewhere before

we’d even bought this soiled history writing secrets

about the couple who rented the place the year before


when we were building that bed I taught you the intricacies

                                 of power tools and you showed me

an article about a woman who poured kerosene all over

                                 her lover in bed

somehow we stopped paying attention to exactly which

                                 words chipped away at that triangle

in our stomachs until we had to keep it spinning just

                                 to feel our hands inside each other

each night you would sneak off into the bathroom and

                                 wash your face until it bled

picking hairs out of the brush and counting how much

                                 I’d lost in that days battle

until that day you forced me into the grocery store

                                 pushing the cart down the aisles

past the condoms and diapers screaming:

“This is how much if costs God damn you this is how much 

                                  it costs!”