Laura Villareal

When the Rabbit Hole Has Teeth




No one sees it happen
when I’m swallowed
whole without the fuss
of teeth. Only the gnawing
& grinding of rusty
gears can be heard
as my grounded gondola
descends. In the stomach,
there’s a circus.
Men with teakettle heads
steaming & screaming:


“We’ve hit boiling point!”
“We’ve hit boiling point!”

The men juggle
Victorian teacups
& broken saucers. They catcall
as the dangerous women pass.
Women with knives
for legs. Women who’d cut
tightropes if you crossed them.

Boys made of newspaper swan dive
into puddles, drowning
their origami bodies
with synchronized precision.

All the while,
sloths in waistcoats smoke
hookah on chaise lounges
discussing the implications
of it all & I try my best to keep
375 plates spinning
on top of matchsticks. 

Trapping Season

Within the thick evergreens, there’s a snow-bearded cottage blowing smoke from its pipe. The cottage has makeshift patches on its elbows, coffee-stained windows, & stories to tell. A man stokes the fire— cracks wood into sparks at the hearth. He puts out food for the foxes. A vixen eats it without knowing she must give something in return.
He pushed me against the wood paneled wall, restrained my arms. Rigid breath in my ear, “I love you...” If my wrist bones shattered I’d be able to slip away. “...if you leave me, I’ll kill myself.” Crying. A fragile glass man fell to the floor. If I left right then would his blood be liquid or sand? It’s unclear how to leave when his body guards the door.
The vixen now sleeps at the hearth. Heat radiates in every follicle of her fur. Never does she go without a meal. She’s glassblowing a man’s heart, precariously spinning molten sand.
I don’t know who taught me to pull a knife from a chest—a reflecting pool blade ebbing slow blood. Not sure who taught me the words to coax a knife from his hands. No one would believe me if I told them.
As the flames slumber under the charcoal skin of their logs, the vixen continues to dream. The floorboards groan under the weight of footfalls, which startles her awake. She inhales too deeply, rousing the embers. An axe crashes to the floor.
People ask about the bruises & I tell them I’m clumsy. I tell them they’re purple pansies, yellow-eyed I love yous winding their green stems around my body. The truth gets caught in my throat.
No one ever hears when she scratches at the windows or howls. No one hears the vixen except the ancient house. It has stories to tell, but no one ever said it would repeat them. Snow falls off the eaves. Needles fall off the trees. The vixen’s tail hangs from the ceiling.

Honey Bee Theorem



Don’t trust the bees when they ask
             if they can inject honey into your back.
They merely want to sample
                                      your spinal fluid—
qualify the salinity of your lifespan.


[Quick math:
             seven billion minus the ones you loved
             divided by six
                                                                    Calculator reads:]

No equation can calculate the people you could have loved.

    Using a scale of salt mine to seawater
               the bees might decide to build
                     honeycombs in your vertebrae, might carve
              horizontal hexagons into the bone
              & etch the initials of everyone
                    you’ve never loved
                         before you can even melt their wax.

                           Luck comes in sets of three,
                                                            multiply that by two,
                                              divide the surface space of lumbar three
                                                     by six centimeters by six centimeters.

                                                                                     No one is looking at anything besides
                                                                                                    the work it took you to arrive
                                                                                                                             at the solution. 

Laura Villareal

Laura Villareal earned an MFA from Rutgers University—Newark. Her work has appeared in Cosmonauts Avenue, Crab Fat Magazine, Sakura Review, and Apogee.