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Amy Pence

Dedicated to the designs of Alexander McQueen

Your Inglorious Topcoat, Your Haberdashery

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You are antlered, caught— the huntsman & the hunted. From your posture, you are a nomad.
From your mullioned eyes, countless uncounted desires. On the catwalk, feathers dun our misanthrope. The jeremiad in your pulsing sonics, the pelt by which you open us—
marksmen gather in the back garden of the self.

I’m unearthing the planet’s suicide, the fine texture of the swallow—its manqué
and rotting insides. An interior of plastics.

Your child’s happy childhood like Pepper’s ghost— Here are the totems: Klonopin, Oxycodone, Hydrocodene, Vicodin. Denial’s a contagion—

a devastating tsunami, the origami of every unfolding has at its center a lie. Under spotlights, the furrier flays our history.

Childhood, Dismantled

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A hirsute giant. Maggots breeding. The mind, revealed, offers its curiosities. Among the lost objects: a happy childhood, a locket with copper-penny hair, your genitalia. I watched you knit the old story, shrinking your collusion to a nub. How like the Salvador Dalí, dreaming yourself genderless.

Yes, you fabricated your idols. The abject body— fingerless, numberless in the creeping dawn. A hologram of things we’ll remember: ghost walkers, brittle with beauty, a vanishing bestiary, the stitched violence we’ve grown to love.

Give them space to be themselves really meant give me space to be myself. We entered Code Red—
the mother’s absence vaporized being. You put on her death like a hair coat. All the erotic implications lost. Before No. 13, who would have thought we’d aim the gun at ourselves?

Fashion Week, The Man Who Knew Too Much

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Setpiece: a thousand birds perch their eyes on the cinematic jungle gym. Your disturbing feline nature—the side of your face caught Man Ray. A bird of prey lifts from the woods of your being.

Your skirted androgyny. Like Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, the corset-maker Mr. Pearl in his high-heeled shoes, his black-gloved innocence. Look how you harridan. How you, haggard,
hung and hanging, eat out all your old errors. You wear your cinematic silks, your alien face in profile, your night terrors, fluted and thick.

Money won’t help, nor archery. When the owl tools itself into the faraway trees,
you’ll remember the fine excess of our wretched beauty. You’ll remember how I wore
my organs exposed.

Fashion Week, The Girl Who Lived in the Tree

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You wanted to domesticate them. You bent their lithe bodies with your will. The birches are female you said, but the gender of my headdress bloomed like a sea anemone.

Sometimes, the brittle-boned pendants of our caution listed: the boughs of our ___________, the elbows of our _________, the ligaments __________, the nucleus where you started rooting. Lanterns appeared, but you extinguished them. In the next room: the tattoos of ostentation.

I saw the snake on her back writhing at the window. That night I dreamed the baby taking shape. Circular, day-glo, slipping whole and ornamental in the trees: the elm, the black oak, the red, the child now grown. Morrissey sings his halting one-upmanship while trees go pulmonary in winter. Telltale, the elms wink out all across the eastern seaboard. Their extinction, yours.

The trees unmade the human, became the human, unlocked our features. She is there when I remember, despite what you asked for. Like a cat treed in fog, she is spectral. As in moths trapped in my mouth.

Your Posthumous Dress

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We were a long line of androgynes. We wore our bumsters, our midriffs bare. We wore
our bikinis with chainmail, our eyes flat-lined. We were worn and radial flowers. We were
bitches in snaky black lace. We were rogue planets in a hostile cosmos. We had our compulsions: arching our spines in the vaults of La Conciergerie as they held Marie Antoinette for execution. We were amphibious, mournful. We wore our transgressions: our skull-capped madness, our vermilion hand-tinted slides. On a horned chaise lounge, we were the fetish writer covered in moths, the light of us apocalyptic, breathing futurity.

Because we were trapped, we were medicated. Because we were trapped, we evolved.
We remembered the goat of you, your alien face in profile. We remembered we were bait—

Finally, your last dress>   the lone figure of a golden bird>   a polysexual unselfing, migratory eyes cast back to who we wanted to be

flight surrendered—

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