sage curtis

Sage Curtis is a Bay Area writer fascinated by the way cities grit and women move. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Main Street Rag, burntdistrict, Yes Poetry, The Fem Lit, Vagabonds City and more. Find her here: 


A Girl and her knife

Like swimming in a pool during a lightning storm

the humidity cracking overhead

I feel it still rolling the salt of it

over my tongue.


Dare me to use the knife, to pull it

from the thin sleeve tucked

into the band of my bra.

Don’t you know yet,


this is for my safety, not yours?


If I was a bird, I’d be red & yellow & orange

If I was a flower, I’d be Bird of Paradise

all spiked and open-mouthed.

This is to say,


dare me to open up and show you

the explosions of neon coating

muscles I don’t even feel

anymore, but don’t dare me


to poison you. Will power is not my strong suit.


I like the sound of the blade sliding

against the leather too much,

the risk of electricity pulsing

through the water


So go ahead, call me baby—

& I’ll tell you about baby

rattle snakes & how they bite

full of uncontrollable venom.

Portrait at 27

1. Crossing a baseball field behind my middle school, I learned the term jailbait from the men repainting the diamond

2. The time I had to take a shower after sucking a dick I thought I wanted to suck

3. The time I knew I didn’t want to, but did anyway

4. Him saying don’t tell anyone about this

5. The entire baseball team knowing, even though I didn’t tell a soul

6. The time I loved a boy & the first time I sucked his dick, I was actually saying goodbye

7. $2 of change falling out of my bra, getting undressed for a shower, and feeling like I’m still being watched

8. The I flashed a boy for his “birthday present”

9. This is how I saw my body in a full-length mirror, too full for a girl my age

10.    Age by now: 14

11.    This is how I learned to use my body & was paid out: a free subway cookie, a movie ticket, a dinner, backstage and on stage at a music festival, a drink on Fridays,     ,     ,     ,      ,    ,    ,     ,

12.    This is how I learned to love my body

13.    Learn to love bodies that look like mine—all tits, all ass, and then after notice they eyes

14.    A catcall out a truck window while I run

15.    A catcall out a sedan window while I run

16.    A catcall out a suburban window while I run

17.    I learn how to pray to a god I don’t believe in that they won’t pull to the curb and grab for me

18.    More than once they have

19.    A boy reaching out of the darkness during the 2 am bar exodus, looping his thumbs into the waist of my white jeans & I wonder briefly about getting away

20.    The boy who has the patience to love me barked at someone staring the other day

21.    A boy sits down on a couch at a party & asks me all about me. I make sure to use the word ‘boyfriend’ until he hears me

22.    When I write my body, I write about loving it

23.    When I write my body, I write about tits

24.    When I write my body, I try to live outside of it, see it stretched and laid flat, the way you might see it from above me

25.    I learned the term cheerleader thick from a boy I loved & suddenly my body folded from the inside out, wanting so bad to shed its thighs

26.    How does a body survive all this?

27.    Get up, get dressed in what I fucking want to wear, stare back at people who stare or eye me up and down, use my eyes like daggers, write about spit & knives