poem: devil’s doorbell

Written 12.7.20 when I first heard the phrase “ring the devil’s doorbell.” I don’t usually write fiction poems, so I was surprised when I started writing sequels to this! Which worked out well, as this was supposed to be sexy, but has since turned into a 4+ poem slow burn. 🤷🏻‍♀️ The working title for the series as a whole is “courting a devil.” Or maybe “courting the devil”? We’ll see. Cross-posted to IG.

This poem also contains references:

  • the patriarchy description is a riff on bell hooks’ description
  • the title of Rebecaa Solnit’s Paradise Built in Hell (despite having not read it though)
  • a goat who survived a California fire
  • a church that was spared during a California fires

And mood inspiration taken from the following songs:

  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia
  • Barnaby Bright’s Highway 9
  • Zoë Yungmi Blank’s Bay Rim

they told me,
not to go down to Georgia,
that if I was looking, for a
good ol’ time, I needed to
find the oasis in the middle of hell,
and ring the devil’s doorbell.

now, there are a lot of places
that are hell. the first place I looked
was between me and the
white supremacist cis hetero capitalist ableist
patriarchy, but conceptual hells, found in
empty spaces and worn out places
were a bit too hard.

so next, I looked to the people I loved most,
because it’s always been easiest to
bare my ugly, to be cruel, to those
I loved; I learned that one from my mother,
so I also searched in the tangled family roots,
bound up in blood, salt water, and stale
airplane air. and while I didn’t find
the oasis I was looking for, I did find
a skeleton key. and I let out all those family
ghosts, skeletons in the closets, and watched for where they flew.

I tried for something more literal next.
I drove on down the one-o-one, past
blackened hills, california côte-rôtie,
appellation d’origine protégée, because we
protected our forests too well, and now our bodies
are so much tinder, waiting for red flag warnings that
we’ll just ignore. I found the spot, next to the church, where that goat
laid on down and was spared the inferno’s grasp.
grass is growing here again; they’re rebuilding what was destroyed,
laying wreaths of flowers on the cross, as if the fire
won’t ever come again. so I laid on down, and

there, I pressed my lips to the ground,
and the devil christened me with the taste of salt –
I remembered the fear in my bones,
the tremble in my hips telling me to run,
the beat of my blood, declaring how much I wanted this,
the triumph of claiming this body, this life as mine,
and I opened my mouth, my self to it with relish,
and vowed I’d always run my tongue along desire,
and sink my teeth into pleasure, and never let it go.