Poetry / Kendra DeColo
:: Isn’t “Food Court” a Lovely Term ::
not just the sound but the place I mean aren’t Panda Express and Sbarros lovely with their food garnished on metal trays how when I’m inside of one I feel home no matter how far up route 65 between Kentucky and Indiana where churches and Subway franchises neck and I know exactly where I must go to reach the good Starbucks and avoid the McDonalds where high school students hand out gift cards “From Jesus because he loves you” and I almost took one once I had been driving alone for hours on my way to a conference where I would have gotten drunk in the good old days would have gotten tanked and made some bad decision not out of stupidity or self-destruction but a deliberate attempt to feel more than I thought the world has to offer like ransacking a hotel’s free buffet stuffing my pockets full of food I’ll never eat I didn’t yet understand the beauty of a road connecting towns I’ll never see in daylight decked out in neon effigies each vestibule offering its own flavor of sanctuary or I did and couldn’t tolerate it how I took the gift card from the girl’s hand and imagined what it would feel like to be forgiven and for a moment I did and I gave it back
:: I Hope Hillary Is Having Good Sex ::
I hope Hillary is having good sex I say to myself at the farmer’s market While fingering the over-ripened bustier Of an heirloom tomato So close to rot it nearly sucks My pinky into its dappled maw I hope she’s at least getting decent head I say again Now that she’s proven a woman Can win the popular vote And still lose to an imbecile Because sexism Because Russian interference Because my grandmother Who worked for LBJ and then Nixon and was harassed by male coworkers Until she had to quit Even she said of Hillary, “There is something About that woman I just don’t trust” I hope Hillary is getting it in By Bill or someone better at listening Who asks her what she needs Then gets directly down to business Without preamble or pussyfooting Someone who emerges Only for a sandwich or breath of fresh air I hope she has multiple sidepieces Each a different build and scent And when they ask To see her closet full of immaculate suits Organized and shimmering on their racks Like a god’s molted skin She lets them touch just the hem
:: I Don’t Like to Have Sex While I’m on My Period ::
even though my husband is the kind of guy who isn’t afraid of a woman’s fluids who might even go down if the flow is light a real man you might say if the logic wasn’t steeped in toxic masculinity the way the sheets are steeped in blood after making love on day three the rasp of stain beneath us like a bat fluttering its wings in a puddle of Robitussin I can’t help but think it’s crude to put down a towel before we begin the way a man sticks a gloved finger up his wife’s vagina to assess if she’s done bleeding clean you might say if that language wasn’t steeped in violent misogyny because isn’t my blood the cleanest part about me fuck a towel if you want to go deep you better be willing to draw blood my husband is a real man isn’t afraid to smell the shed lining muffle his face in the spasm of cells wasn’t afraid to watch our daughter emerge and split me open crowning which means my body concussed around her like a crown which means there was so much blood I had to touch it to remember where I came from the hot and pulsing corona ruckus of DNA metallic and stinging Love, forgive me I do not want to be touched while my body orchestrates this unraveling as much as I love the bouquet of clots rioting around the base of your cock bright as a truck stop souvenir to own a part of you where the blood remains dried and hissing a dwelling of dank perfume as the body travels back to its source and I am answerable to no one not even my own name
:: There Is a Moment I Feel Free ::
driving to the taco place where a few weeks back a shooting happened right where our car was parked and in retrospect it seems negligent to have been that happy sitting at the counter squeezing limes over everything and Aretha is now in my speakers the song where she sings in quick succession “you’re all I need to get by… baby you know that you got me” and maybe motherhood has made me soft which is close to a kind of ghoulishness I don’t know I know it has taken me 35 years to learn how to dress appropriately for the weather to apply moisturizer before bed and sunscreen in the morning to be this in love with the life I’ve made and care for it no matter how reckless that is
:: Crow Flying Overhead with a Hole in Its Wing ::
I looked up and saw you this morning flying over a tex-mex restaurant the hole in your wing the size of a bottle cap I googled what it means and read about parasites but nothing about whether it is a benediction to see an animal flying with this perfect portal in its wing through which I saw the sky through which its jeweled language leaked muted and streaky through which I heard the first song I ever played my daughter holding her near the window that overlooks our street through which I saw everything I had been afraid of which was a kind of death which was a kind of abandon buckling toward joy as I have fallen to my knees in grief but have never known what it sounds like to sing without expecting mercy through which the wind might touch us which is the only benediction I need
From the writer
:: Account ::
After the election, which coincided with the early months of new motherhood, a few incidents triggered a feeling of being unsafe in my own home, similar to symptoms of anxiety: the feeling of not being safe in my body. (How many times has the world made me feel this way, and how many times did I internalize the message that I cannot keep myself safe?)
These poems, written during a time of healing, were a way to feel safe again, to celebrate my new identity as a mother, and name in the public space of a poem, what is unacceptable to me, politically and personally.
We are living under an administration that has been accurately described as living in the house of an abuser. I have been thinking all these years how our connection to language will keep us safe and grounded in our own truth. I have been thinking about the way poems have always been a way of saying enough, a way of marking a sacred boundary around who we are (individually and collectively) and what we need in order to thrive.
Kendra DeColo is the author of I am Not Trying to Hide My Hungers from the World (BOA Editions, 2021), My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (Third Man Books, 2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (Saturnalia Books, 2014), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House Magazine, Waxwing, Los Angeles Review, Bitch Magazine, VIDA, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2019 Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and has received awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Millay Colony, Split this Rock, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is co-host of the podcast RE/VERB: A Third Man Books Production and she lives in Nashville, Tennessee.