halloween ritual by Lip Manegio

Art by Lois Emma Harkin
Art by Lois Emma Harkin

she drags the needle though the red

body of the thread, back stitches

my shoulder blades, my sacrum,

the pulse points at the corners

of my lunates. i keep red just under

the tip of my pitted tongue, but do not

let it loose, do not stop this

staggering. & listen, i’ll admit, i


the stigmata, the gentle puncture.

i want to be bound into the horror

of this body. i want the want, the

desire in someone else’s eyes for this

unholy frame, my graveyard of a

chest. so

when she says color, i grind out

green, even as the flashback rises up

the tendrils of my throat —

it has been two years since i was first split open,

a red sea set to spill across a mattress, hands

caught in ropes of moonbeam and fluorescence.

i nodded then too. threw myself back into the


what else could my body have been

made for, if not this stringing— what

good is the tolerance if you don’t

know how to put it to use —

all i know is fawn, wax and wane,

count to ten and back, say thank you

every time. i forget where my breath

lives, forget i am more than a

whimpering against someone else’s

knuckles, more than a mess

waiting to be made by any hands

that will have it.

that day, i grew a new jaw, one that knew

how to unlatch itself just right, give the path

of least resistance. for a week after, i ached.

still, i return, again and again.

tonight, i will rub the raw out

of my purpling skin, go out under

the full moon, dig my hands into

the maw of silt, drag up the teeth of

the earth. i will make a lamb of

myself one more time, lay myself

open across another altar. i will tell

her to consume me. she will say

you are asking for more than you can take,

but, of course. of course.

Lip Manegio (they/he) is a Pushcart & Best of the Net nominated poet, organizer, designer, & dyke. Their work has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Puerto del Sol, the minnesota review, Tin House, and elsewhere. They hold a BFA in creative writing from Emerson College, serve as editor in chief/jack-of-all-trades at Ginger Bug Press, & are the author of We’ve All Seen Helena (Game Over Books, 2019). Find them at lipmanegio.com.

Art by Lois Emma Harkin