flaming hot cheetos (reprise)
in the bunker claire crunches out a speech // how we are bigger than our bodies // wheeling toward a victory // a fleet of motorcycles five hundred feet away // and it doesn’t matter where we go because we aren’t dying alone anymore // come and gather, girls // this fight’s what we were born for // she busts into the sun // knives blazing into wide jaws // fresh blood // bandana crust // run she says to us // between silver bursts into skin // so we race towards the metal // kick the bikes back as claire cries how we will be remembered // the world will know us by our red hands // they will know us by our dust
in the apocalypse, phoebe bridgers and I do not survive
after phoebe tells me she wants to die, we roll our eyes // there is nothing deader than an indie darling so she was already leagues deep // I slur words and ask her if she likes ohio // enough to live for it // she says no but does anyone and don’t we all exist anyway // the zombies chase after us as we escape our hideaway for one last night // she strikes charli and jack with her spiked bat as we run and it is sick and beautiful like us // our bodies bitten // turning undead // she pushes me towards the tour van and I know where we’re meant to go // our mountain dew-rotted veins drive us home // past the sun like she always wanted // and when we pull over on interstate 71 and look up it is barely there // our sights bleeding away // HELL IS REAL // IF YOU DIED TODAY WHERE WOULD YOU SPEND ETERNITY // and I feel a hunger taking over // a throatfire inside me // right here, phoebe // I say // come nearer, baby
Not a Cicada Poem
It’s about fireflies,
how, as a child, my mother would fashion
their abdomens into earrings.
Those nights, I’d cry, not
at the cruelty, but the feeling,
the glow on my earlobes
a brittle-cut gorgeous.
While we wore the jewelry, we’d pitch
baseballs over the grass, watch the beanfields
frame the sunset as it deadweight-dropped
over us, draped us in starred space
where we, too, were blinking,
half-dead satellites. I never liked
the light I carried. I never wanted
to burden other bodies
the way their bones burdened me.
When the cicadas came, I worried
what my mother would make of them:
their shells finger puppets on the shelf,
how I’d hate the way they felt on my skin
but I’d never tell.
Privacy Tech Examines Our Long Distance
after Robert Reeve’s tweet thread: https://twitter.com/RobertGReeve/status/1397032784703655938
Even this news feels less devastating than your absence.
I read about how my phone cross-references
my data with the data of those around me,
building networks of information, and it’s heartbreaking,
knowing that Facebook will never spy on
our aggregate metadata. Mark
will never infringe upon our shared conversations,
how you said once that you wanted a Big Mac
but it never affected my UberEats app.
Our advertisements will never be the same—
the toothpaste brands will always be slightly different,
Colgate versus Oral-B. I could coo it’s all about current
location, baby. Think of the damage we’d do
if you’d come see me. But you don’t visit,
and I try not to fantasize about the digital trails
we both leave. How, each night, I wonder
if you track me like a cookie, if
I’m in your browsing history.
the absence poems: 5/31
5/31: x days before you leave
I feel it coming like a bad heartbeat
and wonder if there will be an after:
how I’ll remake myself and continue past
the moment, if I can fix my own devastation.
Is it possible to live undevastated
with your absence? I don’t want to be your trail
but I can’t forget you either. No joy now.
We carry traces of each other like snow.
You’ve shaken yours off, somewhere, in summer.
I wrap mine around me for a cloak.
Everything I write contains you. I build boxes
to save you. And still I am the one stuck
inside them, clawing at walls. I could yell
get out of me but truthfully I like the haunting,
how your memories call to me when I’m lonely
and I sponge them up with my whole body.
I imagine what you’d say to me. Get over it.
Who cares. We didn’t mean anything.
But everything with you felt like the good ending,
finally living the life you’re meant to be from. Now
I can never write past the middle, and that’s what scares me most—
I don’t know what you’re doing when you’re gone.
Elegy for the Inside
Even you too, now, look dead.
The light migrates to you but there is no brightening,
no readjusting of eyes to new color.
And when the plants die each week
I revive them. We all live on edges,
waiting for our turns to jump
through the walls and into some fresh time-
line full of doors and staircases, any exits
that could lead to birds. I miss the potential
of wings. I have lived in my life so long
that I feel like a tourist. Do you speak
my language? Where is the exit?
Which way do I go?
the absence poems: 5/27 3
5/27: x days before you leave
it seems you’re not leaving anymore
but your absence still lingers heavy
like a greedy ghost
I bet you’re wondering how I’m still
haunted when you’re alive and beside me
(it’s painful, the doubleness)
I want to tell you you’re like a shadow stretching
in multiple directions and consuming
a city and there is no one to stop the darkness
because how can you stop light
(you can’t even close your eyes to it)
you are a body beside me and a body collapsing
before me and the time it takes to reach you
as you go is always too long
the absence poems: 5/27 2
5/27: x days before you leave
and even the news feels less devastating
than this I read about how my phone cross references
my data with the data of those around me
building networks of information and it’s heartbreaking
knowing that they will never spy on
our aggregate metadata
or infringe upon our shared privacy our advertisements
will never be the same the toothpaste brands
will always be different every night
I wonder if your browsing
history includes me this unlove
is peculiar for its time
the absence poems: 5/27
5/27: x days before you leave
and I prepare for your absence without knowing
I fold laundry slower (to take up the time that you would)
((to sponge up warmth of my own))
of course it fades of course we were no better
than mirage (light refracted) ((empty up close))
(((why long distance could have worked
if you’d let it))) and I know you’d reject this science
call it casual and unenlightening like me
so I tune my ears to static (let it fester)
((announce it as home)) let the anxious eyebuzz I feel
when I stand pour out of me and grow
repeat words out an open window
you are inert you are unflinching
you are never going to change
When I think of us as a natural disaster, I mean a disambiguation
People assume you’ve died when they see me.
The truth isn’t worse, but
it’s just as bad. You are
alive, gone, all I had and
I want the day to mimic my mood
but even a forest
fire can’t match the feeling.
It is not a natural disaster. There is no
process. Causeless. Like a child
I try to roll out the flame
but it consumes me still
and the next step is
I didn’t know about space
disasters, though I suppose solar
flares and asteroids count as blameless.
I don’t want to be careful anymore—
your last laugh was fake.
It’s sad that madness is boundless.
If I was to live above everyone else
with only a single tether, then
Today I close my Wikipedia tabs
and point my thermometer at each breathing wall.
I map the temperature of the room
and everything is blue.