The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2022

All Issues
JUNE 2022 Issue



The eye broke where the dark
opened against the field
& the weeping mind descended

pregnant with stone,
no fruit

(the eye my own,
but far away)

soft as memory
of First desire
& dusk, humming —

a heaviness
holding nothing, sucked to earth.

Night came inside
where the walls voided themselves
beneath a spectacle of light

& the Noon Witch watched
at the threshold

where a door opened to a door
opened to a shadow
in flesh

and the four shrieks of sorrow
stiffened into monument.

The Owl

a sigil in my palm, eternal
where you landed once
bright, with your talon

the wind whipped my hair
lashes across my eyes
the breadth of your wings

I think I bled

of moonlight you
made a veil

as we parted
a flickering green
not of this earth

but the earth as it lives inside

when I close my eyes
when I close my hand into a fist

the wind is there
and your shadow against the sky

eyes far and quiet
as two stars

smoldering from their centers —

a flower for me,
a flower for you

from Scenes


A FIGURE shrinks into a wedge of shadow between fallen slabs. The mind has nowhere to attend so it shrinks, a smudge of darkness amid all that’s come undone. A howl veins the air like a choking vine. These things crawl in the blood, and are carried to every corner of the soul. Here the empty rooms gape. The side of a building gapes open, a small red mattress lolling like a tongue.

(Her mouth turns down, the
darkness inside swallowing sound before
can even be born.)

Instead of speech, sound turns itself inside out, an inverse siren. The raw beginnings of a scream dangle mutely in air. All night we are circled by what we cannot see, like the bewilderment of dogs, their little faces swollen with watchfulness. Alive without tenor, the body trembles as if trying not to freeze.


A FIGURE arrives — Her head grows wet and limp on the stalk of her neck, a drowned flower. Her skull when she wilts touches the ground, kissing the dunes. When she sleeps, the surface of the sea (which hovers now above us) turns deep red with the algae of her dreams. She wakes, unable to remember, though memory crawls up and down her body like a tick.

—She goes about her day
—Drags along through time
—Hooked to the drifting barge
—This is the life she has invented
—Where the day thickens and spills
—A gray porridge smothers the stars


A SPIRIT comes, luminous with the gore of having traveled out of flesh, burst so suddenly from the body that already it is changing into something else. Untethered, the soul becomes fantasma and all

the hungers of the person descend as in a wreck at sea into lightless places. A ghost is a reef, a sorrow that has made itself a home for swarms. And in the deepest void is a nest for sharks and other ancient hungers. A spirit comes

still tethered to the city left behind. Like a comet, it bears an electric tail, eating the air with heat. It burns the sky, shrieks a black smudge across the dusk. It whines

and groans and carries the scent of concrete and iron. When it finally arrives in my open hands it has almost entirely diminished, cut close to nothing on the lathe

of its journey. The spirit is luminous, but the light is blue and guttering. The spirit is no

larger than a river stone, weighted with many lifetimes, or perhaps just one. But even one life

is almost too much to bear.


A FIGURE stands in a cemented lot at the
edge of a lost world.


I can’t remember where, what room, but I

stepped out of a broken wall and now I

feel       the old light of paradise stir, which had

before been asleep inside my bones.

The shriek of a parrot drifts from the soft mists beyond, calling her eyes over the mossy lid of the jungle, over the peaks of temples…


Beneath which I sense a primal figure moving through brush, sensing me too.

Nearby a white monolith lays on its side. Inside the ancient trailer, the soft steps of an animal. The pacing of the tiger long after the circus has gone extinct, long after the trailer has been sealed by moss and time.


I hear the animal alive
after all these years
in the windowless box
in emptiness the body turns and turns
and for a moment the tail comes round
to the mouth, a circle
wherein the soul survives itself


Stephanie Adams-Santos

Stephanie Adams-Santos is a Guatemalan-American writer whose work spans poetry, prose, and screenwriting. With a penchant for the queer and fantastical, her work is rooted in the crossroads of ritual, ancestry, and environment. She is the author of Dream of Xibalba (forthcoming, winner of the Orison Books Poetry Prize), Swarm Queen’s Crown (finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards), Total Memory, and The Sundering (selected for a New York Chapbook Fellowship). Stephanie has been a story editor on the CW anthology horror series Two Sentence Horror Stories (now on Netflix) and is currently a writer on an upcoming 20th Century/Disney+ live action fantasy series and is developing an original fantasy pilot as part of the 2022 Ojala Ignition Fellowship. In addition to her literary work, Stephanie is a professional Tarot reader and occasional instructor of poetry and divination. She is making headway on a Major Arcana tarot deck inspired by occult animism.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2022

All Issues