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3 Poems by Billie R. Tadros

Twenty-six Words for “Vulva”: B is for “Bloodroot,” or,

We Loved Like Bloodroot, Like Stemless Bleeding Things

Exsanguinate, you cried as you climaxed.

I remember the rhizome, the reason.

Here’s the root of the problem: you seasoned

my love escharotic, erotic, axed

the sore point in this bloom. Savvy with salve,

I’ll save you, you said, fingering nature’s

scalpel and my patient lobed lips. I have

to believe this affection a cancer

to accept the scars. This is where she lopped

me, I’ll say, pointing to the palimpsest

where your sap-harvested tincture had dyed

my skin the color of Cabernet stopped,

the color of what we look like inside

our dendritic highways waiting to let.


Recently Out Queer Woman Does Flaming Dr. Pepper Shots

with Grade School Crush at Their High School Reunion

This is the right kind of place for ending,

and even in the mood lighting you’re not

my type, but late tonight you’ll send me hot

pictures of your cock. These are forgetting

gestures—your wanting to imagine how—

her hand on my thigh, its slow leaving wake.

I would take you if I wanted to take

you home. Buy us another pitcher now,

and we’ll talk. You’re far more charming tonight

than you were back in high school, hand on small

of my back. You’re all pretending-to-care

and I’m-so-good-at-this-game you just might

get to fuck me in the men’s bathroom stall,

leave thinking it was you I wanted there.


The Art of Flossing Isn’t Hard to Master

I finally threw out your toothbrush today

but first kissed the bristles against my own gum

line. Whatever it is you didn’t say

recedes now in my own mouth. Your taste will stay

in the half bath waste basket for some

days, but I finally threw out your toothbrush today.

(The city collects trash on Friday.)

It’s flavored like ash, sour, spearmint, and rum

and whatever it is you didn’t say.

While you’re starving, I’m craving something to allay

the phantom ache of how you would come.

Before I threw out your toothbrush today

I hungered in the depression where you lay

on the left side of the bed, which sums

up what you wouldn’t say:

You thinned like enamel. I wore you away

like the overwashed, worried-loose skin of a plum—

or the head of your toothbrush I threw out today.

I threw out whatever it is you didn’t say.


Billie R. Tadros is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English & Theatre at The University of Scranton. She is the author of three books of poems, Graft Fixation (Gold Wake Press, 2020), Was Body (Indolent Books, 2020), and The Tree We Planted and Buried You In (Otis Books, 2018).

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