choose your own



1                     gummed palms white knuckle

2                     a gristly rope

3                                        if you choose to be a barefoot grandchild at the lake, skip to line 23

4                                       if you sweat it out, trying to play it cool with your older cousins

5                                       mocking you from below, continue to line 10

6                    burrowing doubts worming into

7                    fava-beaned gray matter

8                                       if you lose the coin toss with yourself and swallow the rest of the

9                                       tequila anyhow, skip ahead to line 17

10              how this human tastes like chicken

11               heartbeat womBAT-womBAT-womBATting at the jugulars

12                                      if you fashion a noose and test its tensile strength on a ceiling pipe or

13                                      closet rod, proceed to the next line

14               collapsing throat toothpaste-tube squeezing out

15               hoarse, hollow raspings

16                                      if you waver for years in and out of the closet, skip to line 20

17               sticky sweat drenchings congealed to skin

18               saliva curdling the intestines

19                                      if you dither in and out of denial go back and forth from the beginning

20              till pupils dilate and the sinew of the soul solidifies –

21               when focus dominoes body to action

22                                      and

23               swift motion arcs new orbits discovers new limits the

24               rope snaps tight

25                                      you let go

26                                      you fly

27               bothsinkandswimming

28               plucking belly oysters for pearls


Carrie Nassif is a writer, photographer, and psychologist living in the rural Midwest. She has been published in several anthologies including a national winner and finalist in Off Channel, the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival, and “Cry of the Nightbird”, a 2015 finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award and for the National Indie Excellence Award in the woman’s issues category. Her poetry (and often, photography) can be found in Pomona Valley Review, typoetic and WORDPEACE as well as her blog at


Cover photo: Joel Ormsby (