My Favorite Apocalypse: Poems

My Favorite Apocalypse: Poems

by Catie Rosemurgy


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555973230
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication date: 05/01/2001
Pages: 72
Product dimensions: 5.86(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.34(d)

About the Author

Catie Rosemurgy's poetry has appeared in Best American Poetry 1997, Ploughshares, Verse, and Poetry Northwest. She teaches at Northwest Missouri State University and co-edits the Laurel Review.

Read an Excerpt

My Favorite Apocalypse

By Catie Rosemurgy

Graywolf Press

Copyright © 2001 Catie Rosemurgy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-55597-323-X

Chapter One

TWELVE AND LISTENING TO THE STONES Yeah, you got satin shoes. Yeah, you got plastic boots. - The Rolling Stones, "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" If I had a best friend, I might not tell her that once you find your insides and can tighten them, you can bring the ground up to your face, bring the earth you're standing on up through your body, until you can breathe the grass as it comes through the dirt. I might not tell her I have muscles no one can see. Not only can I keep rhythm and bring it inside me one beat at a time, I can also clench right in front of the paperboy's face until I feel a fist loosening its grip on the largeness inside me. The most he can see about me, even if he looks impossibly close, are the barely colored wisps of hair against my forehead. They might tremble. I tighten while I wait for the school bus. I've worn the snow into ice. How quiet I can be. I close my eyes and change the size of things. My house disappears below me. The dark moves inside me like hands. GRACE LIES FROZEN IN THE FRONT YARD She's stunned, made of colors, and afraid to move anything but her eyes. She has landed in the snow like a tropical bird. She was going somewhere, a camellia bush beside a lagoon, a branch so new she would seem to hover in the air. But someone threw a switch. The humidity shrank into ice, and she dropped, frozen, mid-flight. Exactly the way she'd planned it : her coat bright and broken, her face a serious mistake in a field of snow, his name caught inside the cube forming in her throat. Better her than him. When the branches stopped their kind, slow scratching of the sky, she could tell that somebody, sooner or later, was going to freeze. She'd lose him either to someone else's latest kiss or to his own stillness. Lying next to him would lead to waking up, and waking up would lead to finding a lump in the bed. Either dead or disinterested. She hasn't decided yet if it's good or bad that nothing lasts forever. BILLY RECALLS IT DIFFERENTLY The rattle of my tin shed where I kept my crocus bulbs was like the rattle of my teeth as I slid into bed. Packed blooms. Sweet fists. I liked to be able to look at the delicate things I would never say. My house rose up through pine needles and dust. My house reared up in its white paint and cobwebs. I shivered as I slipped from its belly into the snow at quarter to seven every morning. I blinked to strut my stuff. Every morning there was a second of darkness. Every morning it calmed me down. Every morning cold wind for blood. Every morning was not like this one. A girl-shaped leaf had fallen onto my bed. WHY GOD INVENTED THE COLD To give the people a break from repositioning their lawn chairs. To give us a glimpse of life without bugs. Without weeping welts, the odd fever, and yellow smears on our shoes. To confuse the boys. To force them to ask, "Why do teenage girls smoke outside in January until their nipples get stiff? Why do they stand around with their coats undone and life smacked onto their cheeks? Am I that promising?" To caution the men that the boys will turn into against following their semi-aroused girlfriends into May lake water. Seasonal Affective Disorder. To break up lonely highways into manageable chunks. To make it clear just how stupid it is to climb the highest mountain. To encourage sweet futilities like cuddling and mittens. The powerful sleep lobby. To give drunks a softer, deeper alternative to liver failure. Blue lips and frosted eyelashes. Ski pants, for Christ's sake. Dark roads, tight sweaters, no boots, and stalled cars. Wanna ride, need a lift? Country love or homespun complex legal issues. His word pressed firmly against her word. Zero degrees and fourteen snowmobilers missing. Natural selection. Two feet of fodder for made-for-TV movies and more expected. No fiber, calories, vitamins, hallucinogenic properties, or nicotine without the tar. Just pain in your membranes, unexpected falls, sprained ankles, and hyperextended thumbs. To see if you can catch yourself. To put you down. You thought you were mean and hard to figure out until you found out about windchill. To give us a way to understand people who won't give us sex, meter maids, Siamese cats, what it's like to kiss your best friend's lover. To distinguish the sweat of euphoria from the sweat of shock. To up the ante. Because he could. Because he's lonely and it leaked out of him. Because he wants attention and a fluffy blanket that's big enough to cover his toes and reach his chin. To create melting. To give us another hint that the body is dead. To add ice. To let him come as close as he can to holding some of the glittering water he made. To let us skate where we couldn't two weeks ago. To let us glide on top of darkness. To show us what it means to break through. WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY Wouldn't it be a good idea if we got married? I take thee salty, sweet, And tart to be my lawful wedded flavors. I take thee hornet, squirrel, and sandpiper to be my skittish, hungry brides in sickness and in health. Our life together will come and go like daisies, and when winter comes we'll have our babies: ice, pine, and moon if we survive the stiff, blue morning sickness. So I take thee chill and cramp that sweeten my stringy muscles. I'll pay the piper for the song of fever, the chef for each flavor of my slow burn. I take thee sweat that flavors my kisses and the ones who kiss me. How come twining stars in my veil is only a pipe dream? I've taken them for richer and for poorer, and if nothing else they often lie beside me, sweetly dying of time, which is my favorite sickness. I agree with the little girls who are lovesick: the hungry never get to taste the best flavors. Good thing lying in bed alone leaves the sweetest sting of honey on the tongue. When real life comes, bringing midnight, white nightgowns, and grown-up skin, if it can, I hope it wakes us. We're unsmoked pipes

until then. We're everything else too. I pipe the endlessness into the ocean. I take its seasickness to have, hold, and die from. Especially if while I drown it savors me like a new flavor. In the end, which is my favorite time, it all comes down to need, which is what I can give you, my sweet husband, wife, betrayer, mistress. My sweet coo, fall, wing. My silk, velvet, stain piping. I take thee full, weak, perfumed, wilting. Please come home, which is like a box. Love is a sickness I hate to cure. Time, scent, dirt, flavor, we'd make promises if only we could.


Excerpted from My Favorite Apocalypse by Catie Rosemurgy Copyright © 2001 by Catie Rosemurgy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Twelve and Listening to the Stones5
Cranberry Juice6
Grace Lies on the Sofa and Waits for Her Boyfriend to Get Home from Work8
Billy Sees Stars10
The Angel and the River Water11
God, as Quoted by Two Adulterers15
Grace Lies Frozen in the Front Yard16
Billy Calls Grace Darling17
The Feeling of Accomplishment I Get When He Is Pretty18
Little Bay de Noc Softball Field20
The Mistress Notes22
What I Wanted to Say Instead of Yes When a Guy at a Bar Asked Me If I Grew Up near Lake Michigan24
Grace Lies in Her Tent and Talks to the Psychiatric Experts She Saw on TV25
Billy Recalls It Differently28
To My Lover on Returning to His Wife and Then Finding Another Lover29
My Mom's Cobalt-Blue Glass Collection30
Lying in Her Sleeping Bag, Grace Makes Her Tent Her Home35
If Billy Were Invisible37
Lake Superior Confesses to the Shore of Keeweenaw Bay38
Steel Blue40
Jesus, the Perfect Lover42
Grace Lies Down to Write Her Boyfriend a Letter44
Billy Considers Leaving the World Alone46
The Office Party47
Why God Invented the Cold50
Grace Lies on the Ice52
Billy Talks of Daybreak54
The E-String Strut (or Heaven According to the E String on Steve Earle's Acoustic Guitar)55
Ashtray Elvis57
Hard Put58
1, 2, 3 ... I'm Perfect Starting Now59
Grace Lies Down on the Hood of Her Car62
Billy Pretends to Understand Grace64
Mostly Mick Jagger65
Doll Up67
Grace Lies in the Backseat While Her Boyfriend Drives the Backroads of Southwestern Florida69
Billy's Vision of Grace71
Fifteen Minutes after the Movie74
Blow Your House Down76
Grace Lies on the Public Beach78
Billy Watches from the Garden80
Invitation for a Dead Friend81
When She Gets Home from the Grocery Store and Notices the Fireflies, Grace Lies Down next to the Driveway85
If Billy Were Invisible, Part II87
Singing the Accident88
An Angel Finally Admits What She Knows to Lou Binkler of Bethany, Missouri91
The Return to Skin93
We Are Gathered Here Today95

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