The One With The Biggest Mouth
(after The Julie Ruin)
Tonight I found God on my bedroom floor, a church flyer
left in my door frame last week—I thought I’d thrown it out.
If I could talk to God I’d ask her for real magic. Instead
I put a pillow between my knees and scream into the sheets.
I’ve collected cable news and this could be the requiem
as much at it’s become our soothsaying. But you can
hear the low growl of my funny blood. Tomorrow I guess
we block the roads. Flesh falls beneath us and we laugh.
How did we get here, gravity spinning us into crashing?
I walk past tiny glass bottles in a halo of grass. I’ve been sober
this whole time and I’ve felt all of it. I let go and we laugh.
This is the new American loneliness and I seal myself in
as if staying indoors can stop me from falling. When I hold
your lies in my cupped hands it’s because I have nowhere else
to put them. So after all this time I’ll tell you—I can’t be both
the fire alarm and the fire. Kidney failure found it’s own
Armageddon to bloom in me and now I disperse it like seeds
on the lawn. If I cleanse myself of life, I’ll breathe. Flowers know
how birth is violent. How living is violent. It’s not historical,
it’s now. When I bite the dust I’ll lose both heart and mouth but
still we laugh until our bodies cramp frozen, folded into crescents,
pale like the waning and waxing of the moon. I hold us still.
We wait. No books prepared me for this and you don’t really have
a place to keep a map. Still I dress every day like it’s the last time
I’ll be seen. I smooth rouge into my cheeks and brush my teeth
and wait for a crown and wonder if we will die of fever or bomb.
Gravity is my God now and I offer up my Armageddon, filling
the air with dust and love. It’s true—I can’t turn away. But I’ll laugh.
(after Gold Motel)
Tongue-tied I run my fingers over another message, over the keys
on my laptop. My reply is overdue. Somehow I figured out history—
the stories we tell ourselves as we pass through each decade. Down
the wires new lows arrive in waves and newspaper has come to mean
our daily ache. Six p.m. is dizzying and I turn off the TV to breathe.
We were looking for a cure—how did I land here? When the sound
goes I hit the ground sweating dizzy. I know that terrifying feeling
of having Cassandra’s mouth and Old Navy’s blue jeans, hands full
of truth that you’ll only use as tinder. I piece together the voices as I
drift on this river. I pull apart emails and ignore voicemails. I wonder
if I bury my birthday cards in this hollow tree whether the bees will
come for my body when the sun rises, fill me with new paper houses.
I want to buzz like the city that holds me, this voice that presses me
to the ground even as I long to touch the candy-blue sky, taciturn.
If I saw the world from the trees, the pavement would still cast trash
into the brush and no hand would come to soothe it and I don’t know
enough words for speechless. But here I am still, trying to unpin myself
from this catastrophic timeline. Collectively we try to fill this emptiness:
laughter, the discomfort of our expanding distrust, a soft shirt we bought
at Target. I see a shadow in the mirror and hope it’s only passing through.
There is no cure. Only weed whackers and wildflower seeds to cast into
the wind like testimony, the decade coming to fold its arms around us.
E. Kristin Anderson is a poet and glitter enthusiast living mostly at a Starbucks somewhere in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture (Anomalous Press), and her work appeared in many magazines. She is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry including Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press), Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press), 17 seventeen XVII (Grey Book Press), and Behind, All You’ve Got (Semiperfect Press). Kristin is a poetry reader at Cotton Xenomorph and an editorial assistant at Sugared Water. Once upon a time she worked nights at The New Yorker. Find her online at EKristinAnderson.com and on Twitter at @ek_anderson.