Shadowbox: Talons Teeth Claws

Erin Slaughter




The wolverine frog will break its own bones split open its skin to form claws & its body was meant for that, was made to,


so when people tell me we are destined for unraveling that a splayed heart breeds love’s deep & only safety I refer


to the lion’s mask of blood, the alligator with a ribbon of scales hung

from its indifferent jaw




there is always a breaker & a broken the bloodlapping & the bloodspilt there is no careful dissection of sunlit desire


without a vulnerable party no alternating tooth for tooth or ruly gutting there is no gentle becoming of mutual bones only a carcass & the vulture who drags it from the street like no crime scene


ever huddled the asphalt begged for wings or lied down in surrender-palmed devotion to a gaze demanding to be fed




this house I built hoarded so many bees in the walls still every socket leaks honey


despite a fury of stingers poised to name any reaching hand prey


any pretty eye enemy quick & bluntly deadened before unreliable hunger is birthed such unfortunate hiveflood lust is, or worse than,




our bodies are made of walls, were meant for them, raw and stupid beneath the shell


the centipede cannibalizes its former skeleton to bulk larger, gulp power, stronger

for carrying the shadow of that foolish husk inside it,


gnawing old skin in hopes the next hardening


will be impenetrable—a sloughing vein-deep beyond this


fallible bouquet of cells







ERIN SLAUGHTER editor and co-founder of literary journal The Hunger, and the author of I Will Tell This Story to the Sun Until You Remember That You Are the Sun (forthcoming from New Rivers Press in 2019). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, Split Lip Magazine, New South, Passages North, and elsewhere. Originally from north Texas, she is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University. You can find her online at