Zoe Dzunko








Fake Flowers Last Forever
Zoe Dzunko

I overhear you slamming the front door
this place is killing me! Drop your bags
down and a cold can buzzes open.
I understand our days are numbered
by parking meters I think of my friend
hauled up in a Harlem apartment
with his prescriptions hiding from the light
glowing hand behind the gchat window
I just can’t handle New York!! Too much
stimuli, too much sadness, corruption
anxiety and I internalize all of it! I’m too empathetic
for this place. When feeling tired I remember
the work that left me a worse kind of aching
heat the white concrete sent to capillaries
that summer my feet blackening by Friday
morning radio playing the same five songs
an hour every hour the same hour cutting
plastic components for the blinds of grand
hotels. There is the vacation and then
there is the coming back with a sunburn to nurse
the small rebellion swirling inside of you
takes weeks to dismantle. I miss home, he says
leave nothing you cannot bear return to.


An umbrella shared in the rain and naturally
we discuss the weather, the nature of its
permeability: I mean, it was horrible in Seattle,
but at least it was consistent. I know. I see
the same man in my sleep each night
wearing his tragic hat he does not gesture
rain soaked for shelter. In so many dreams
you awake feeling unloved: a forever friend
admonishes the state of your house & you fight
about nothing, just dust. Rise to wonder
what’s been overlooked—something bad buried
building guilt like streets of ugly houses.
I really want to remember the first jasmine
wind this spring, not some father forgetting
his daughter as he bores through the grey gauze
of my stockings. Mostly it is embarrassing
to be walking down a street, visibly invisible
to be this okay with strangers waving
at people behind you. Oh, to not be the eater
of sandwiches alone behind the glass, each deliberate
bite & nobody waiting for you. That is the riddle:
two faces meet as their trains pass the other,
who felt lonelier before and who felt lonelier after?


These days, I body with convenience
in mind, ignoring this new broken sound
rising from my chest upon waking,
remember what is growing to forget
the drawn-out death of everything
at once too cruel and too inevitably
beautiful to imagine—my grandmother
waits her turn, each day shrinking
inside of her now too-big body
eyes becoming a new blue with her
morning shower—a little muddy, or is it
chalky. Why wouldn’t we want to keep
these things forever and shouldn’t we
marvel at occasionally knowing how?
She tells me that before the colour
spread onto every surface, nature
was brighter. She says maybe the roses
were just brighter, before pausing—
but when I stopped keeping them
my roses, I mean, was precisely
when I started feeling my age
lowering itself over me like a thick
net, very slowly.

Zoe Dzunko is a writer from Melbourne. She is a doctoral student in Creative Writing at Deakin University and the author of four chapbooks, including SELFLESS (TAR, forthcoming 2016), All of the Men I Have Never Loved (Dancing Girl Press, 2014) and Bruise Factory (NAP, 2014). She is the Poetry Editor of The Lifted Brow and in 2014 founded Powder Keg Magazine, an online poetry quarterly, with Sarah Jean Grimm. zoedzunko.tumblr.com

Photograph provided by Loni Jeffs.