asheville poetry

All posts in the asheville poetry category

Life Boat Blues

Published November 27, 2021 by April Fox
I suppose it looks like
I should be drowning
in the proverbial sea of alcohol and tears
but let me tell you
Hank had nothing on me a few years ago and in the interim,
although it seems as though
I'd been saved and pulled aboard
a life raft crafted from his very skin, the truth is I had
carefully and willfully frozen the surface over and I could see
not long ago, the agony that I should feel and I confess
to having ordinary human
compassion and concern
for one I thought was hurting
(and admittedly, that was my mistake, but if those things make me a fool, I'll run the risk each time around)
but I was able to stand
above it all
and walk away
And perhaps I should apologize
for not reading the guidebook
The Modern Middle-Aged Woman's Guide to -- never mind
but the truth is, when it's been a life
of synapse hating synapse and of fighting every day
to keep myself and stay alive, I don't have time
for mindless reading
I'm so sorry
I don't care.

I don't have time to grieve
for things
that never even were

There's so much grief that's been required of me
now

There's no space left to mourn the ending
of some fanfic autobio.
And if I reached out for a hand
-- not the first
and by far not the only --
and let my hedonism rise and shift to
something like the taste of
coffee on a lazy Sunday morning
dark and sweet and lingering
forgive me if I choose this
over drowning
or sitting on the ice and staring down
at the shit below the surface
while I wished for something more.

Insomniac Storm Warning

Published November 7, 2021 by April Fox
He talks in his sleep
now and then,
a soft growl
low and deep, that wakes me up
for half a second
like distant thunder
that reminds me that
the storms are there
but miles away.
I'm too old
and cold
and tired
to have time to imagine things like fate
and deities and
predetermination;
karma is a privilege of the good, and the
universe is just a mass
of angry gas, but I have
learned
to heed the warnings and I am
grateful
to have listened when the
sirens all went off and I am not ashamed
to find myself here
sheltered from the rains
that weighed me down and nearly
made me drown.
Whatever's in the distance
has become quite self-contained
If it depletes itself or feeds itself and propagates again
is of no consequence;
there is shelter here
and peace within my walls.

Ain’t so Real

Published August 3, 2020 by April Fox

(They tell us)

Real women have cuuuurrrrrrrvesssss

-Gotta draw that out real slow, let the word trace along the edge of the

Fat thighs, round hips, breasts like balloons every little boy

want to die in

Real women look after themselves,

legs like stilts that hold up the pedestal balanced there,

low flat belly, chest like a smooth wave in the ocean

sharp cheekbones cut like ice if you aren’t

Perfect(ly made; don’t tell me

that’s a real woman)

Anorexic overeater tell you hormones make the lady

but that facial hair they say to shave says otherwise,

now don’t it?

(They tell us)

Real women take care of their own, work hard, bring that money home and

ain’t no real women go away all day and leave her kids.

Real women stand up for themselves, don’t take no shit

get that dinner ready on the table when your man gets home

Keep him fed

Feed him good.

(They tell us)

Real women don’t belong HERE in this restroom

Real as the ache of not being seen,

real as the ache of being questioned every day, from the inside,

Who am I, and why am I here?

Real as the knowledge that power comes from the pocketbook

and that your breasts are weapons to be feared

even if

they haven’t started yet.

Real as the leaves in the hair, the rocks in the knees on a dark dirt road cause you need

a place to stay that night

and when you’re fifteen,

nothing feels like home.

Real as the blood on the sheets, the blood on the arms, the blood on your face

waking up in tears

remembering.

Real as the day long hours wondering why you weren’t made

like all the other

Real Women

with their fat flat asses and their sharp smooth hips and their

curves worn damp with time

erased

Real like knowledge

Real like the mirror, waiting to look back

And feel complete.

Feel.

Published October 29, 2018 by April Fox

This is what it feels like

(I don’t know)

to be kept out, sent to the back,

inked with numbers like cattle

(I bought my ink with dollar bills

you sold your soul to make)

This is what it feels like, one tenth of a percent

to send my child out, brown eyes

thick lips, pants sagged and face

inked like you don’t know

he never pulled the trigger

White as I am

you can’t tell,

arms scabbed and ribs shining

like blades in the street light

You can’t tell

I held that belly, sunken now

in the palm of my hand when he came home

small as life

You can’t tell

I wear my whiteness like armor

(you don’t know)

protect me when I walk at night, keep me in the car

when I get pulled

my brake lights shot like Walter Scott’s but I’m alright

It’s just a warning

        Careful now,

                don’t get hurt.

I know this

My breasts

        (no matter how small)

my ass is a beacon, shining out

spotlights on the fact that I am there

to be taken

that you can have the thing that I have never

until right now

given up one hundred percent voluntarily because I know

from the time I was 14 years old

that if you want it

you’re going to take it

anyway

This is how it feels

(I don’t know)

to be safe in the world

This is how it feels

(I don’t know)

to be safe

This is how it feels

(I know this, now)

to be helpless, to lie flat still frozen

in the dark to wait

for the things that gobbled up the blacks the Jews the

mouthy women the men crawling on the street with needles in their veins

the infants pulled to term and shit out on the sidewalk

screaming with addiction while the pro-life movement dangles formula and warmth

above their heads, the cost of daring to be born

to be sacrificed to hungry priests to be grown up

cut and bleeding

on the bathroom floor

This is what it feels like

(I don’t know)

to be quiet, watching, waiting

until they come for us.

Again.

Published October 17, 2018 by April Fox

In the middle of the night

he is lit from behind, the glow of the hall light

shining through his skin and I want to ask him

all the things that end in

Yes,

the things that someone else with

better words and softer, paler edges

could spin into the silk of romance and something like

forever but the night

is heavy with the weight of day and though I can see him

my eyes are closed and somehow I can only ask for the one thing

that’s immediate:

water.

When his shadow crosses mine again he brings me all the answers

in a paper cup

and holds it steady till I rise to drink.

Shot Gun.

Published October 13, 2018 by April Fox

This is where they’ll find you

tattered and sore

what did you think would happen when you opened

(your mouth

your eyes)

your legs?

This is where they’ll find you,

painted on smile, don’t open

your mouth

(your eyes

your legs)

he’s always been a good boy

I heard he had a perfect credit score.

This is where they’ll find you,

battered and whole

hands tied feet bare

silent asking

What did I think would happen

when I opened

(my mouth

my eyes)

my legs?

This is where they’ll find you,

mask on, hands off, clothes buttoned up

tight

What did they think would happen when you opened

(your mouth your eyes your legs

your mouth your eyes)

the chamber?

This is where they’ll find you

standing

on the mountain that they built

This is where they’ll find you

when they close their mouths

their eyes

This is where they’ll find you.

Pull the trigger.

Quiet Down

Published July 30, 2018 by April Fox

I wish that I could set this down

and walk away, rest it on

the table near the front door

and turn the lock behind me and

forget about it by the time I hit the button

to unlock the car door

by the time the music starts

and my foot is on the gas

I’ll have forgotten

its existence

I wish that I could

take it

to the landfill and bury it beneath the piles of moldy sofa cushions and

dryer lint and rent receipts and watch it

settle down into the sludge before a rat

takes notice of the smell

and carries it away,

a treasure found

to be devoured.

I wish that I could burn it on the gas stove, beer in one hand,

pitcher full of water in the other, watching as the ashes dance and fly

before they fade.

I wish that I could simply turn it off

turn it off, tell it to

SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR A MINUTE

let the decades do their job of making it

at the very least

shrink into something manageable

I wish that I could quiet down the noise

that keeps me up.

 

March. 

Published March 24, 2018 by April Fox

First storm of the season rolling in

I should have know that it was coming. 

Dragging in on the tails of the snow that fought the rain this morning, it demands

to be acknowledged 

as the rightful owner of the season. 

The echoes shake the mountains, thunder bouncing off the land and back again and the lightning doesn’t touch the darkness

that’s been building now, for days. 

The clouds were heavy all day, heavy under the weight

of everything and when it rains

(it finally started up again, just now)

it isn’t anything

but the voiding of the sky. 

Valentine

Published February 12, 2018 by April Fox

Hey now, can you keep me

under the radar, in that spot where the rain falls

heavy

Can you be the cloud that rushes me

alive

Hey can you keep me

tucked in your pocket, deep in the dark where your

heartbeat hides

Can you dance with me to the same tune

under the glow

of the dome light, box step back bend you lead

I’ll wait.

Breathe, can you stop my breath

for a second

Can you keep your shit together when I

falter, can you

keep your shit

together

while the fear leaks out your eyes

and pulls me back

Hey now, can you keep me

for a while

Can I have some of that blanket, can I tuck my head

into the pillow of your shoulder, can I press my

eye

against the bony knob

of your wrist and can you read my mind and tell me

what I mean

Can you keep me under the radar, in the corner of this planet

you inhabit, that you built

can you keep me under the radar, sifting through your fingers

like the sun.

IMG_7278-0

2017: Depression Ate My Brain

Published December 30, 2017 by April Fox

In 2017, depression ate my brain.

I wish the years were neatly separate, distinct like they are on paper

segmented like an earthworm you can tear apart and watch the old parts writhe and bleed

while a new one generates —

starting over, over, over

hard reset, the days would have an expiration date

live through this, and then you get to start again

with vocal cords that work and a mind that doesn’t will itself

into oblivion, just for the hell of it.

Social media’s a hopeful place, full of photographs of bubbly glasses, gold leaf and fireworks:

“Here’s to a better year, next time!” A dumpster fire, they call it, as if the ticking of the clock will put it out and we will Come Together To Make Things Better! and Make 2018 Awesome! and start fresh, resolution-bound and hungover in the morning

Happy New Year

but it’s not, when depression eats your brain.

I spent my days in the company of children, and the ones who cared for them also cared for me. I tied the shoes and bandaged the scrapes and explained a hundred times that cottage cheese is cheese, but not the kind you slice. I sat criss-cross applesauce on the big rug and read stories written by other people’s brains, the brains that worked. Shoes on, coats on, water bottles, line up: The routines that shaped their days helped stitch together mine.

I stayed put together and the year went on and it ate away a little more each day, and when people say Reach Out I don’t think they understand that all the things you’ll say, we already understand.

I know I’m not alone. My stuff happened alongside your stuff and her stuff and their stuff and it devoured us from the outside while we were battling the inside. The world was burning down, our heroes were dying left and right and everything seemed darker than it should. In the dark, it’s hard to see the things you should create. We are not alone, but that doesn’t make the aloneness any less.

I lost my voice, and my muscles atrophied; there was no reaching out because I know: The solid marriage, loving family, stable friendships, roof overhead wheels underneath woodstove fired up warm quilt wrapped around babies thriving sunsets starry nights and all of those things are real but the list is punctuated with the knowledge, too, that it’s all there in spite of me and there is nothing relevant

living in my bones.

Depression eats your brain and you can’t sleep or you can’t

wake up or you can’t

eat or you can’t

shower or smile or think

or hold a conversation past the canned fake plastic words you spit out on Facebook so that nobody

suspects there’s something wrong (because there’s not; it’s just your bootstraps wearing out)

You can’t do much of anything but follow the same old script but you can sure as shit argue

with the idea that there is something valuable

in you.

I lost my voice and people didn’t think I could, they wanted me to make them laugh, to mock the president, to say something sweetly vulgar because saying FUCK is trendy now and hey, what’s behind this song and hey, tell me stories that the music men told you and I just

stopped.

The words were stagnant water in my mouth. Nothing new could live there, nothing would come out; I lost the words and then I lost the chance to say

I’m sorry

Depression ate my brain

in 2017.

%d bloggers like this: