The Stove of Chinese Bellflowers:

The witch baked my bones like warm bread.

She poured the wine and bread of me in an oven,

Then ate bat's wool and owl wings while I began to rise

On a mountain behind the mist.

She carried me to a rundown castle on top of smoke…

When I could've still been sleeping!

Parts of me went flying away

As she climbed up with my leg-bone between her teeth.

To her I was just wedding rice to drop,

As she went like a fool

To where I would be made good again

With one of my bones between her teeth,

A hound happy with a chicken bone.

The witch of my blackest dreams had a terrible painted face it seemed she'd stolen

A cosmetic pot and bag of paint from every whore in Japan just to make.

She woke me up when there was still a chance for my tiny dreams,

The sweetest dream of walking

With the Jewel of Four Souls

Between my hands from the prayer house,

The way a woman of modesty would carry wild roses,

De-thorned and ready for the porcelain vase,

Picked with passion from a briar of red and bloody things in nature,

The thing that wishes are made by,

And sunsets watched by.

The jewel was like the rose that lovers pass and are promised in marriage by,

The swearing rose that adorns hair and a comb.

With this glass flower I tricked the gods,

And bought love with it,

Instead of guarding the buried treasure of the Gods,

And damned my soul.

I was a prostitute of all that was holy.

But instead of making money I would give what was valued

And yet I was poor while corrupted,

And not rich,

Unprofiting though defiled.

My body I would give away,

And too give away a magic jade

All for a dream of lying in a demon's arms,

Calling monsters equals and trading flesh.

Us both human and treacherous of what we were born to be.

The hag woke me up without a care

For what it would be to be awake.

I died for not knowing what it is I did.

I was doomed by a soft hand that would dare touch the silver in an animal's mane,

Likewise she is dead,

Good as,

From her doctor's hand,

That would put a knife to human skin.

I granted a fake man's wish, coming to him as his magician,

The genie of the lamp,

Believing a promise sweeter than a plum,

Under the spell of the voice of a boy, who was fifteen years old in the face.

Though I should've known that all fruit will turn and fill with maggots,

Just as I knew how his firm face was the magic of the demon world.

I died with the taste of filth in my mouth I called mistakenly food.

I walked from my temple to the place where I would betray my vows,

And he would betray his body, moon-thread hair and sun's eyes, claws and cloak,

Thought he would strip off what made him a monster.

I saw love where I might have seen an enemy walking nearby with something to slaughter me with.

Instead of only capturing my heart he shook it out of my skin, punctured with nails,

And next he shook the hanging gem from between my fingers.

The witch will get the same,

For not knowing what it is to do as she would like do,

And fathom what it is to wake the dead,

We get murdered when we stick our heads in tigresses' mouths.

As I lay being baked I made this vow,

To cause her a death filled with pain,

And wipe clean my hands the moment I could stand up.

I would wash them if there be blood,

Even if I would need die again by running into the water below us to get clean,

And be pulled apart on the rocks,

Polluting the water with all that floated from my cracked head,

Or lose my breath from not being a goldfish down in there.

I smelled my own skin cooking.

What it smelled of was pork.

I could taste my own sores in my mouth from where she was undone

Baking me, and the maggots inside of me.

When I had a whole bar of teeth back I could grit them,

But flies came out and flew away from me.

The ashes of me turned to flour in the beginning,

Whiter than the belly of a dragon.

How did she remove the husk and the seed?

Crushed dust seized hold of me,

Covered me to death.

I was white ghost but whole and touchable.

Birds covered me this way, but covered me with color,

Before my sister had me cremated,

They tried to eat and put my eyes between their beaks,

Swallowing and drinking my bloodied sight for earthworms.

Insects tried to live inside me, but the flames were too hot,

They were chased back down into the earth.

They would've eaten what the fire never could eat away.

The sting jumping on my bones this third time turned out to be only my skin.

My growing skin

Was more pale than rice, even a heifer's milk,

But I could touch it not, it was hot yet.

The oven she stuffed me inside of had brick walls

Scraping my newly-grown shoulders,

Peeling off some of her fresh art,

Denting sculpture's limbs to spider webs.

My removed skin was hot glue,

Was spilling cheese on stove floors,

Scorched and stuck.

I was too big for her oven,

It must have been a place to cook children in.

I could hear some in the back in storage,

Squeals of sows,

Many of them kicked on the walls and shook my stove.

All I could do was cover my ears, I had no arrows to defend even myself.

Happily she did not divide up my tall body into slabs

So I could fit on a hot tray

Neat as pheasant.

No doubt out of plain fear of damaging whatever from me she wanted to get.

My back must have been black as I fell apart in the stove,

I screamed Amaterasu!

Goddess of the Sun,

I require a protector!

My voice was back again,

It was not as quiet as the grave inside of my stove,

The stove was filled with screams.

The first thing one who is dead finds they cannot do is open their mouth and talk to you.

She had poured water down my throat early on to clear

The road to my throat to send her familiars down that path.

Were frogs and snakes inside my body working her abominations?

Before I passed out under that sun between a box

A pink emperor butterfly came out of my whimpering mouth,

But it was quickly cremated.

I lay naked holding a purse of butterfly ashes,

Keeping the black paper she'd been made into close to my heart,

Before the flames went to work on me.

I coughed as the fire show reached my breasts.

She was firing me like glass.

All that was left of me were my eyes, to see my torture chamber with.

The eyes I looked out of were the only things whose appearance I'd never know,

Were they the same?

She might have given me clothing buttons there.

All smells of me filled my nose,

The herbs of my last bath went up the chimney in the smoking jungle of smells.

The flesh of my face was growing back all the while, getting firm like porcelain.

A mask of skin, a thing of white hide fastened over my flat and soft face,

Trying to give me a nose, a shapely mouth with lips on it.

My wet skin filled the cast.

It was tough and hairy against the water of my skin.

I think I was overcooking; white smoke filled the red chamber,

I would have fallen from my taken away breath, but there was nowhere to fall,

My back was in flames,

My knees against my lips,

The place seemed to grow ever smaller.

Next I recall I was lying on a wood table,

Piled up there naked as babies come from womb,

But displayed there where someone had taken pride in what they did,

As though I were a lavish spread,

The emperor's lunch,

Or an arrangement of a thousand peonies.

I tried hard to cover this crudeness up, hiding all my fleshiest parts,

Placing my arm over the breasts of my chest,

A hand clutching all of the hair below my waist.

I covered up my stomach for good measure,

None of my body's presence was appropriate.

I rose to my knees on that table,

Though this undoubtedly made me look further like a concubine.

She held out her arms to me,

Was I her child to those antique eyes?

To those fingers veined, white and lost of life as a molded peach?

I tried to run away from her but she hit me in the back of the head with a rolling pin,

Then I saw that I had hair again, it dripped down my face with the blood.

I reached for something on the table, anything to pull up with.

Many things sailed to the floor and busted like mirrors,

I knocked over bottles of love potions, beauty baths, sleeping formulas all in an accident.

She struck me with that wooden slab over and over until my head was wet with wine,

And my eyelashes spilt down my cheek,

It worked well as a club or a sword's hilt.

But she struck me not to keep the live dinner of dragon on her table,

My legs were already broken.

But to punish the disobedient,

A wretched child who must pay in dear for what they break and duly deserves all welts.

Any knife or broom in her kitchen could have easily become the rod

For all she cared for me.

Where was my voice now?

I could not scream out my hurts by accident,

Or accidently ask mercy.

All I did was bleed from the roots of my ornate wig and ribbon.

Was it only shameful imagination that I had a voice?

Or perhaps in her scorn for me she had taken her gift back?

Or perhaps it did not sound right in the stove and was in need of repair?

I awoke a third time, my head softer and more malformed than a loaf of bread,

Just from the hate in the beating she gave,

My skin was dry otherwise,

And had she not bullied me, would have been passable as human flesh.

But now my bones had moved to the wrong places of my body,

A face full of elbows

My lips at my kneecaps, soft and flower-shaped across a bent knee.

I rubbed my face with my hands to judge its shape,

All I felt were the eyes and dislocated bones,

A twisted cheek

A missing nose,

just the bone of the bridge.

The only skin that had been left and I could feel

Was not skin at all,

But the eyes,

I knew at last what they were made from,

Glass;

She had replaced my eyes with some large beads.

They were bound to be an inhuman color,

Coming from a necklace she might have taken from a dead aristocrat's corpse.

Or dear gods, she may have torn apart prayer beads and given me eyes from that!

I tried to pluck them out, as the bird tried taking my real eyes from the socket when I was dead.

But I am still dead, I laughed at the thought of.

The sound came from my skin

For my mouth was ill-defined now,

The source of my laughter was hidden.

My face was smooth and sleek as pears,

Every part that makes up a human face still gone but two eyes,

Which soon I found

Came from a doll,

A half-destroyed and oval face

Of a ceramic and polished girl

Broken makeup

Chips of a lip

Laying in the corner in the dust with brooms and cobwebs

With sunken in head

And dabs of cloth in the sockets to stop the blood in the scapegoat's eyes,

All the monsters she made alongside the stove that had grown cold as ice.

When I took my hand down from my face,

I saw my hand well right before me,

And this is how I found it…

It was bulbous and onion-like,

Blisters and tumors in the palm.

I could twitch my fingers, but they were bone,

No more skin there, it had all concentrated to my center,

The flesh of the palm.

My fingers were no different from the witch I need slay,

Jackal bones long,

A different sword for each finger.

I screamed a sound,

I could talk.

I would rather turn in that oven I came from until my bones had white in them no longer

And they cracked into paper, then salt

And even the black ashes themselves went on fire

And I was fire and nothing but fire.

Better that,

Than I in any way resemble the witch who lights the ovens!

As I went on heaving fear from my throat

I heard another sound,

The noise did not belong to me,

It was old laughter,

The cackle of crones,

But it came out of my chest,

Whatever she used for a heart

An apple?

Striking against my breasts

And all skin that kept it in,

Trying to cut its way out my body

Break the pounds of flesh like a window and escape,

And go back to the tree it came from.

Somewhere down in there was the laughter of the black magician,

Her voice was in my skin.

I saw her standing over me still in good humor

As her sound grew inside me.

The things she had made laughed at me with her.

Twins amused by the same joke.

Her mouth of strange and silver teeth sparkling,

The image of steak knives behind lips.

Some of those bone crushing teeth coming out with age

Down to the floor,

Her laughter breaking the enchanted strings that those long lost teeth once dangled by

Now the hit the floor making money's sound.

I was scared and lowly, inching away from her face,

Undignified and far from office.

Only a half-state of grace kept

Because I was scared to go too far, for then I would be alone

At the mercy of these parts of her in me

And whatever curse dripped out of these toys she'd filled my body with.

I stared at her with what must have been a cowardly countenance,

By the grace of these eyes beaten out of a doll,

Her own amusement coming out of my mouth.

Giggles I drove down there with my hands.

As I slid away from her I felt my bones falling down,

My cheeks getting long and dog-like,

The smooth face I had fell through.

I touched those places and my hands decomposed,

My fat palms ran off with skin

As candles come undone with fire,

But it melted away quickly

With water's speed they went away

Until my hands were long black bones, where she had baked me for too long.

My skin did not hide the damage she'd done.

As I looked down on the skin on the floor

I saw teardrops in the wood,

I made them without knowledge,

She had bewitched these stolen eyes so that they could perform all their proper functions.

Even pure glass wept.

I held out my blackened hands and bid her get away from me,

Afraid to talk, for it might well have been her voice that came from me.

I only lifted these puppet arms, that she might have strings to I have yet to feel

Somewhere in my back.

She came nearer, seeing nothing but games in my rage.

A cat's grin on her lips that were bloody.

I had thought them disgusting worldly vanities at first,

But when she put her face in mine I smelt the salt and knew it be no plant that made the dye,

Her rouge was from the children, the sauces she made and basted them in from their own sores.

She kept her colors in tubes.

The bleeding, breeding girl for darker reds and to get purple,

Simple cuts in water for pinker hues.

The hands she had fashioned for me grew as stiff as branches of a tree, severed and killed with lightning,

But I believed they would not break if only I used them to tear her down a little.

I kept one broken arm out to push her back and be a warning,

But I would just as soon as scratch her.

She grabbed me by my charred and little wrist,

Which she pulled,

Then I heard my bones crack.

She stole my whole arm out of socket just as she stole my ashes.

I held my shoulder where my arm would've gone,

I watched her holding my arm as if it were nothing,

A wooden spoon or an inkbrush she lost thought with still in hand.

I reached for my arm back, she'd still given it to me,

No matter what it was made of.

She pushed me back, and I went down without any weight,

I was just a feather.

My head made light by the smack of the table.

My spilt skin dripped into what would have been my mouth,

I tasted dough of a bread in my deep throat.

The skin she'd kneaded around my stolen eyes was puffy and purple,

It came off in my fingers.

My hand near fell down

I could barely hold my hand up

Yay, I watched it in front of my face and the threads

Of the melted part of that face, wrap around my fingers

And stretch like strings

That need be cut.

I heard the noise of her

But my melted eyes made my sight poor

I heard her stoke the fires

And felt my ankles drag

My arms were wild and I was a bird held in place by the breast

Wings that cut fingers and beat on her own heart

I did all to try and slap her.

I was pulled across so many stones

That caught my skin, hooking scraps of skin- fishes caught

Was I losing my hair too?

I felt it always on me

And heard its whisper on the floor

After me as if it were my kimono's sleeves.

But it followed me no more

Back to the oven