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Golden Shovels After Kesha

Poetry by E. Kristin Anderson

 

I LET THE DUST CAST A LONG SHADOW

In the first fall there is a fistful of roses and ire—I’m
the patience you find in velvet and pine, breathing not

with throat but with tongue. Come down. Let’s punch a
hole in a warm dream and you can picture me as a model

citizen of the monstrous dark, crawling sick in spirit. I’m
benzos and lattes and decades of rage and this story is not

a fairytale. Let’s find some warehouse in which to hide a
single secret. Come down. And I will call the patron saint

of feminine discomfort, alert my whole murder of crows. I’m
a four-course meal of mascara and panic. Now I know: Sorry

is a curse that I can pour in the grass. This is a dance. But
I savor the witch hazel in my pocket, waiting. In my bed I

have been bleeding for some time—you reach as if I am
waiting for your arms to catch me. The truth is I’m just

saving space for that paragon of virtue, this girl I’m not
wading in fire, wearing white. I have no time to be sorry.

REFRAIN FOR STANDING OUTSIDE ALONE

 Too soon my body is opened to the pines—tonight I
can’t see the red, shake my hair out, remember I don’t
have a heart, not like that. Fill me with lavender. I want

everything, place desire behind my kidneys, as if your
hands could find it. I’ll carry my empty cup, feel fancy

in this dress, all imagined into velvet. You slip like things
I break to stay alive—dishes, denim. The sun is up and I

wipe my feet on her doormat, greet her with roses. And just
to cancel the rain, I make it wait for me, quietly. Today I want
to eat the whole apple, seeds on the windowsill, west of your

winter, always turning your telephone to gutter water. I love
the grace dirt allows, kiss crows—if the sky were champagne

I’d still close my mouth to it. How uncomfortable this tastes,
a dinner of feather and thorn—I watch you uncover it—like
you have never seen monstrous. Send me smoke and I’ll piss         

into the fire, tragically heroic, mascara perfect, waiting to
breathe, one hand full of foxglove for the hearth. Hear me

in my red shoes. Come meet my teeth. Closer to night I
spread fresh petals on the sidewalk and pray perhaps just

to touch another ghost, want after answers like bees want
to open your walls. Questions rest behind my knees—your
windows are breaking, the whole street leaving behind love.

DANCE FOR THE SUMMER THAT BURNED SO BLACK

Car doors closed, I wrap my hands in song and hawthorn so
I can breathe. Here, the glass of the window would shatter if
we asked. The afternoon curls like smoke into my body— it’s
how my thighs fold together, how my skin will marry iron just

to show you it can. Let me out. How young is the rowan tonight,

the trees that bend into naked sky, the dance of our ova in the
dark? This is the map I carry, the mirror portrait of my animal
heart eaten—salty and whole. Now the machine stays inside
me even when I’m gone, a treason. That venom is how I let

the body hang itself, staring down from sticky pines. I own it

like I own my bed: quiet and cold under the ceiling where I live
without the ocean sounds. I cannot tell you how the roses and
rowan arrived—how I open my mouth full of leaves, wait to die.
My truth is a kiss fallen from a coat pocket—so remember it like

trash or a bee sting, speaking filth to sin. Let me in. Somehow it’s

me treading on glass. The shatter holds me as it breaks and the
windows are as gone as winter—I hold my breath for the end
of the road, slick with petrichor. Let me see through the lens of
a camera: bluebonnets on the highway, the char gone with time.


I LIVE HERE, SWEET INSIDE

I knock back my lips to breathe, but I can’t fight the dirt
under my tongue. I know you’ve been to see the aster and
the blood, the oil I use to anoint myself in night, the glitter

stuck under my fingernails, stinging when I move to cover
the dead with apple seeds and ash. Wait. Can I conjure the
memory of gentle hands, the cement that covered the floor

I thought was there behind the moss. Come. Now we’re
sick with salt, a wish to throw away; I want to die pretty,
hair warm and bound with lavender—come cracked and

see—the garden leaves me barren unto itself. And I’m sick
with rosemary, I’ll wear silver on my neck. Tonight we’re
ghosts sent to haunt ourselves. Know I was never young—

I hold myself in a dance I’ve danced twice, swollen and
gone—call it catatonia, but I’ll only cut the ribbon we’re
wearing at the wrists, the liver in our guts, sour and bored.

CALL THE STARS ON A WEDNESDAY

Through the walls I listen for the bells and the teeth—we’re
circling whispers—I swallow lemon after lemon and taste the

loss when I spit into the river. These creatures are the ones
that want all of my dresses crafted from lace and iron, who

leave me in a garden with white gloves and red hands. I flirt
with the willows and beg for their shelter, carry blood with

a basket of roses and pine. Here I know to commit disaster—
I have deep pockets for anger, grip tight the rope we’re on

down to the shadows. Out on the asphalt my throat cuts your
radio—I find a new way to the window and make another ass

of another man. See a stillborn horse, give me the ocean—we’ll
wait for the moon to catch a sharp smile, to bleed and pounce,

eyes out into dusk or dawn. Again this year the piano falls like
crow feathers, and I catch it in the bend of my tired elbows, a

conjuring of death to expel from skin. Remember, the panther
finds the tallest tree, takes the sun with her, knows how to cut

everyone away from her body, bites even as blossoms litter the
tops of all the cars in the neighborhood. I know your bullshit 

now, stuff it into prayers and burn it until the flame goes out.
Cool, the rain comes to take the ash from the road, sings with 

the night birds. Look: I wear gold and velvet like a wall, like a
way to outrun the story that ends with a mouth and a dagger.

 

E. Kristin Anderson is a poet, Starbucks connoisseur, and glitter enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture (Anomalous Press), and Hysteria: Writing the female body (Sable Books, forthcoming).  Kristin is the author of eight chapbooks of poetry including A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks), Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press), Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press), We’re Doing Witchcraft (Hermeneutic Chaos Press), and 17 seventeen XVII (Grey Book Press). Kristin is an assistant poetry editor at The Boiler 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.