Gabriella R. Tallmadge


I didn’t know him more than once,
won’t purse my lips to say you.
So I’ll say what I did when I showered him with my breasts,
when my gold chain snaked his pubic hair.
I thought it’d be longer before I wanted
to see another man naked after the divorce.
Face in his lap, I thought about the invention of flight.
He called me Gabriellita in ceremony.
He made me watch videos of people nearly getting killed.
Security footage of near misses by a bus, bulls on path to gore,
but don’t. On the couch he gripped me, took
my face in for reaction. He licked my dinner
plates clean. We spoke mostly in Spanish.
Like Saturn, he was his mess a homecoming, a short date
of a long year. Dim light. Fifty-three known moons.
McDonalds before execution. One day I would be caught—
but not him. Not yet. It would be by my own
death, or someone resembling. And if fortunate, witnessed.


The image of my two largest agave—
the Century and the Whale’s Tongue—
cut out of my front yard appeared
mid-fever. Like containing negative space,
black thumbprint on my sight from sungazing.
A magic-eye illusion of loss. A section of
intestines necrotized and freshly cropped
is known to the body precisely by being gone.
Everything that once touched it opening
in awareness to the deficit. I remembered this image
when a man wrote to me about his dream.
A bear watched nearby as he and I had sex.
He said he was in a dangerous way to be like that.
My ex-husband said he once went camping with his
father, now dead, and watched from a tent as a bear
composed of stars muscled down the mountain.
He said he knew now what it meant that midnight
and what it still said after his own hospitalization.
It was probably all a child’s dream. Dreams
being what the mind knows must give way.


Last night he called me
Naked but cotton socks he
used the word yes.
The weather in your eyes,
it changes.
I’ve known men who,
in fear, look away.
Yet he lets it between us
like jump cables.
In cartoon logic,
I’m the trapdoor
he falls through
in one long extended ohhh!
In science fiction,
I’m the UFO—
my eyes two tractor beams
that pull all matter
of his body into me.
In zoology,
I’m the barn owl binding
her prey with moonlight.
White bash of her chest
Satin so glare
so blinding
it lighthouses
the carpet of empties.

Gabriella R. Tallmadge is a Mexican American writer and educator from San Diego, California. She is the author of Sweet Beast (Trio House Press: July 2021) which won the Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence. Her poems have appeared in journals such as The Georgia ReviewThe Adroit Journal, CrazyhorseBat City Review, Guernica and others. More of her work can be read online at