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E. Kristin Anderson

I’m Amazing, I’m Impure  
after Sleater-Kinney

Too often I try to collect stories to carry in cotton and leather—
I’m not the first woman to wear these boots and it’s an indulgence

that follows me around like juniper in January—a plague. I recognize
my own liminality every time I catch my reflection in the mirror

by the door. I run my tongue over my teeth knowing I’m ready
to remove yours from your head. Can I be both the weapon and

the cure? Even the moon has known massacres, a precise chaos
we’re due to reflect. I dip my toes in the river, prepare for the flames.

I can’t take another rehearsal, not when this folie á deux is the dance
of every desolate Toyota and every lightning-dead tree in the future

behind my eyes, in the town I left behind. If the world is going to end
I’m leaving you on the floor. I can’t carry it all on my back anymore.

Wait here while I open my paper bag of screams so I can let them loose.
Already the trash is collecting in the new grass. Still, I relish this green,

know another burn ban is on the horizon as we spin closer to summer.
I have to wonder—what is magic and what is trauma? Our fireworks

are free in a future set to spark moment by moment. Perhaps this is
the sound of an empty heart to fill my gut. I rig my life, just holding

tight to oak and snake. I’m craving a moonlight meeting so violent that
my body falls apart, bone and muscle left on the linoleum. This is how

we probe the beauty of bad times. We’ll send this to the dry cleaner on
Monday, wonder what cure we’ll find in the sour of old potholes and

first names. It’s not Stonehenge, but it’s ours—a disasterscape as seen
from satellites, our aching bodies as endless as our willingness to shake.

When I put my hand soft on your shoulder I’ll fill you with lost places that
amazed you like I did. I’ll leave you to remember that the beautiful and

the grotesque start with the same stitch, diverge in dance, keep smiling
with the same teeth when the last light goes out with a hiss and a pop.

In Plastic Bags At Night
after Juliana Hatfield

I’ve endured another year in this body, still thirsty,
washing my hands because the murder you get away with

somehow leaves me bloody. Like every magpie I recognize
my own image in the mirror and I know the crime of this,

the criminality of the fat cradled under glass. The only touch
I receive now is the rain and it leaves me cold like it should.

I let my mouth become a mirage you cannot want. And wait.
I let my teeth become the smile only I can take apart and

when you point, bothered at the stains, I think I’ll laugh.
I remember those decades of quarters fed into pay phones

and still I wake up to a world that expects me to fill my mouth
with toxin. I think I’ll be a self-destruction that turns heads,

that fills a desert with sweet coffee and coyotes howling.
This thing between us is the loudness of both love

and mourning and still you’re surprised when I tell you I’m
ready to rip a new hole in the universe. Where you might

milk the roses I put my hands in my pockets, touch cotton,
grieve every path that’s dead to a girl like me. If I am the water

I am also expected to be the boat and the oars and the voice
loud enough to solicit apology from masculine beauty.

To pause reality, plucking my brows until I can pretend that
I shaved my legs even once this year. This is how I am petrified,

a living fossil, a woman trapped in the amber. Every anesthesia
is also a coma, and every sleep is a little death. No surgeon

can save me from the fact that when I wake every day in
my own bed my tongue is stuck soft to the roof of my mouth

as if I haven’t been eating glass and granite for all these years.
As if I am allowed to be dirty if I also want to be touched.

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 on Twitter at @ek_anderson.

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