Two poems by Christina Olson
Illustrated by Meghan Murphy
So one day you’re in the yard,
and this poem pulls up at the curb.
This poem wants to do you in the backseat
of the first car you ever owned,
which it just happens to be driving.
This poem will stick its tongue in your ear,
call you baby. In its backseat, you’ll twist
like a white snake, aroused by the sight
of your own pale calves, when did they get
that muscle tone, you’ve still got it, oh yes
you do. Later, you smoke a cigarette
while the poem names all the North
American ducks it can…
I’ll leave us with St. Jude;
with the ghosts of one-night lovers
lingering in empty parking lots
and dark alleyways, dirty stairwells
in old buildings, in the backrooms
of cold and rusted hearts.
I liked us best dishonest,
sleep-deprived, when our
words slurred enough to
make sense. I’m afraid
we’re merely ephemeral,
like the red glow of our cigarettes
across the church lights in the distance,
sending smoke signals to God
as if already we sought
some sort of salvation.
Let me tell you a secret:
the shortest distance between
point you and point me
is galaxies apart.
Case in point:
In this world I can
love a stranger for a moment;
every scene romanticized:
make stars out of streetlamps
and fathom constellations
in the whiskey of your eyes;
pretend to like your aftertaste of
ashes, of warm beer and coffee breath;
throw our wounded hearts out at sea,
pus oozing out the arteries
as it sinks below the waves;
taste the sea-salt on our tongues
when our lips come together.
(I take it back, I liked us
best as strangers.
It’s easier, falling in love
But for every lie there is a universe
of truth in the next galaxy,
a million of mes and yous coming together
and falling apart, over and over.
Isn’t it romantic? We are forever
in theory, in the darkness of the nebulae;
we live in supernovas and collapsing stars.
Somewhere in the infinite
we are more than ghosts and lost causes,
more than stumbling souls clinging desperately
to each other, to the surface
of this ever-spinning earth.
Be consoled: written in the stars is a we
who deserve each other.
(but that’s a rather sad story isn’t it?
In this world my stories all end
with someone leaving, and I’ll
be damned if you ruin the plotline.)
Yesterday you gave me a mix tape,
romance like in those old 80’s movies.
But I don’t need your sad songs, my darling.
I’ve got my own,
beating out of my ribcage.
Wherever you’re from sucks,
and wherever you grew up sucks,
and everyone here lives in a converted
chocolate factory or deconsecrated church
without an ugly lamp or souvenir coffee cup
in sight, but only carefully edited objets, like
the Lacanian soap dispenser in the kitchen
that looks like an…
As sung to a Comrade
The summers of my youth
Were cold and long
The winters were, what made me strong
The fire in my belly, the hate in my eyes.
I couldn’t close them back then,
For fear I’d hear the cries.
Of my lover when they took her
Down the little Road of stone.
Of my family when they made them
Bend their wills and break their bones.
Of the hundreds I don’t know
I’d weep for even so
For all of you were part of me
Shared my joy and ecstasy
Danced within the light I cast
Laughed until the night was past.
Now you’re stones on Willow fields
Someone take care, no one feels
All the emotions that were yours
Heaven’s loving, Hell’s woes.
I miss you in this rain of spring
Look at the sky, begin to sing.
"This is for those who’ll never know."
'PERFECTION OF DOUBT'
by Lucy K Shaw
The taste of red bull in the morning
on my teeth when I haven’t brushed them
The shape of your back when you
crouch over your computer in the night
The feeling in my chest when you say
you are going to meet someone from tinder at 1pm
The feeling in my chest when you say you are going to meet someone
I have to be leaving in order to feel okay being here, I say
In order for you to feel okay
being with me,
I will complete this isolation-induced superiority complex
You will remember how it feels to live without me
You will die this summer, you say. That’s okay,
I was just thinking the same thing, about the both of us
it is looming, we notice, a little lower than ever before
it is looming, we notice, but we couldn’t call it unexpected
And so together now in this forest of London
I tell you about the drinking tickets of Barcelona
I tell you about the prostitutes in the park of the Paris rain.
You tell me about the email your mother sent to your ex-girlfriend,
five years ago when you broke up
And when I meet her for the first time later tonight,
wearing the same shoes, mine will be much dirtier,
but we couldn’t call it unexpected
I have been looking for a new pair of shoes ever since
I have been looking, vaguely, for a new pair of shoes
that make any sense
for the both of us.
If you come near me, there is a safari park,
If you kiss me, we are already dead
And I can feel you inside of your head
when I couldn’t before
I can feel you inside of your head
when I couldn’t be further away
from wanting it, anyway
you feel relatively certain
we are not the answer
to each other’s issues
And it’s not even a possibility
but we await nervously anyway
Hopefully, some days
for the blood to confirm
It gives us both some
body else to think about
Lucy K Shaw called us from Brooklyn, NY.
More about Lucy.
here is a previously unpublished poem
All our wishes made us thirsty
All our wishes made us thirsty,
ready to risk the rain in an already
drenched summer and we’re distracted
by radicals: minutes incessantly reminding
us that we’re at the edge of where we can
still measure the increments of desire.
We welcome the morning informally,
thrilled to find ourselves: two halves
close to being reversed, leaving other
broken states in a house of ecstasy.
In which a poet hands over a basket of poems that he’s been unable to loose from his head in the past few weeks.
• • •
The waves wash in, warm and salty,
leaving your eyebrows white and
the edge of your cheekbone. Your ear
aches. You are lonely. On the
underside of a satin leaf, hot
with shade, a scorpion sleeps. And
one Sunday I will be shot brushing
my teeth. I am a native of this island.
—Frank O’Hara, from “Pearl Harbor”