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Perez & McWharter – February 2023

Kristin McWharter and Alexander Perez traded art and words. Kristin shared this video, titled “Breath Bank,” with Alexander:

In response, Alexander wrote this poem:

Breath Bank; or, How To Save Your Moonlight

Men in love
can inflate the moon
from flat to full
with mingled breath

They kiss as if
they’ve put their lips
to the lips
of the moon’s many mouths

Since the moon
is not monogamous
it takes all the men
in love inside to grow

One by one blow
secrets, prayers
urges, cries
into it like gasps


What is the moon
but a paving stone
levelled, pressed
in a heavily-travelled road?

Step hollowed
by penitent knees
on the stairs
to holy relics?

Seat on a riverbank
worn-out, worn down
where the old fishermen come
to try a last bit of luck?

Grave marker
for a predecessor
with name
wiped clean?


One had a moon
for a heart
empty of light:

The other had a heart
for a moon
orbiting him:


What is love
but a moon
dipping its feet
in a river of stars?

over night’s surface
leaving behind
rings of light?

Fishing boat
for fortunate men
moonstruck mouths
in awe?

Silver loop
pierced to a man’s ear
visible under cover
of a bed’s black sheets?


Hungry for life
double stuffed
with their souls
the moon is full

Pregnant by love
the moon births
a dynasty of moonlets
from its bowl-like wombs


Twisted in hospital sheets
the moon, flat-lining
heartbeat dipping below the horizon
draws its last breath

And before darkness
shrouds its face
the man like an earth
at his side bends down

Lip to lip
inhaling that final exhalation
his heart turns to moonrock
inside him


What is the moon
but love:
lowborn, nameless
mute, unwashed?

Content with grey:
a waterfall’s misty prisms
or a coral reefs unsparing pinks

A drag, moody
boring, assumed
eventual path of the outcast
missing pieces


No matter how hard
you try to blow it up
like love
the moon is not a bomb


The moon’s skin
veined in light
stretched thin
against pressed lips

With each breath
like smoke
it burns
from inside

Phase to phase
cracking its spine
mouths stretching
to speak, it grows

Keep rising
the men bellow
as tides swell
from their bellies

Everything shaped in fire
or by a kiss:
a halo, a bridge, a hearth
a pyre, a chain, a leaf


What is love
hardened, lasting
but a whetstone
for sharpening want?

Mosaic with tiles
blue quenched, shady palm green
to rest the eyes on
when nomads find their oasis?

Moonstone amulet
inscribed with magical verses
to ward off loneliness?


Maybe the men learned
love won’t hold a fragile shape
if pressed
but like a bubble pops

Why the moon sticks to the sky
like a piece of gum
stiff, dry, flat


As it rises
the moon throws off
its blanket from their bed
baring its swollen light

* * * * *

Alexander shared this poem with Kristin:

On Bitterness

I had a foretaste in my mother’s milk 
Before the breaking of bread 
Smoky tint of wine 
Peppered flesh of hunted game 
Gravy of remorse 

Maybe I kissed one honey-mouthed 
Too sweet to digest 
Leaving me a humble-bee 
Who is not afraid anymore to sting 
Serving only a tart, solitary queen 

My mother’s in the kitchen 
Starving, preparing the feast 
To fatten up her guests 
While on her diet of gall 
She disappears into thin air 

Cruelty thickened soup 
He served me, steaming 
Rich with bruises 
Burning my tongue 
Every spoonful tasteless 

She said all I would have
Were unsavory characters 
For companions
And she is correct 
I need no one but words 

Do you think I only know 
Recipes for unhappiness, 
Dandelion greens, 
Sour apples, 
Discarded ingredients? 

I bite into a biting 
Dark chocolate night 
Flecked with spice of stars 
No one can deny me 
This abundance of salty, ginger light

In response, Kristin made this piece, titled “Simulated Borderlands” (click here to see full version):

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