Romance or the End: Poems

Romance or the End: Poems

by Elaine Kahn
Romance or the End: Poems

Romance or the End: Poems

by Elaine Kahn


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“This book takes me right back to the Carnage Years―yours, too―sacrificed to love. If only I, you, had possessed Elaine Kahn’s wisdom and wit. These poems are lacerating, coy, bloody, and so true I wanted to memorize lines from them.” ―Rachel Kushner, author of The Mars Room and The Flamethrowers

Romance or The End takes up the tools of romantic narrative in order to perform the rupture between self and story that occurs at the onset of trauma. Using known and pathologized literary arcs, Elaine Kahn unspools the fundamental instability of truth, love, and language to create an experiential portrait of narrative’s power to both disfigure and restore.


This is a book about love.
And it is a book about lies.
Love can be a lie, but it is also always true.
This is a book about truth.
This is a book about story.
There is no such thing as a true story and so there are no stories in this book.
Without a story, there is separation.
This is a book about separation.
Everything is a story. Even the truth.
There is nothing truer in this world than the lie of love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593765842
Publisher: Catapult
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 694,161
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Elaine Kahn is the author of Women in Public (City Lights, 2015), as well as several chapbooks including I Told You I Was Sick: A Romance (After Hours, Ltd., 2017), A Voluptuous Dream During An Eclipse (Poor Claudia, 2012) and Customer (Ecstatic Peace! Library, 2010). Her writing has appeared in Frieze, Brooklyn Rail, Jubilat, Poetry Foundation, Art Papers, and elsewhere. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and teaches at Pomona College and the Poetry Field School. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Romeo & Juliet & Elaine 5

Chapter 1 The Pull

Linen 11

Friday, April 17th 15

Romance 16

Attachment Theory 17

Romance 19

You Dream Of Candy Because You Want Yourself To 20

Chapter 2 The Long Month

August 23

Untitled 25

Romance 26

Conjecturing When and Where: This Cut Is Fresh 27

Child Actors 28

Dishonor 29

Romance 30

Chapter 3 Love's Commercial

Alarm 33

Chapter 4 My Wild Mind

You Did Not Assimilate, Which is the Privilege of a King or I Regret Having to Abandon You but I May Never Abandon Myself or is it Even Possible to have a Conversation? 39

When a Sudden Madness Seized the Incautious Lovers 40

Yet Split My Heart about You Man Love Drops Like a Dozen Pens 41

My Wild Mind 43

There Is Nothing More to Life than This 44

Everybody thinks that they are Different but Nobody is Different 46

A Wish to be Poisoned / What I Want To Touch I Click On 47

Chapter 5 The Stone Chapter

All I Have Over Wanted is to be Sweet 55

Out of Your Love 57

There Is Nothing / I Wish / To Contain 60

Romance 61

Chapter 6 I Told You I Was Sick

I Would Like to Have 65

I Told You I Was Sick 66

Paradise is a Mind Blowing You 67

Irish Spring 68

Edict 69

I Braided Pearls into My Hair But I Did Not Have A Wedding 70

Romance 71

Unfucked in the Bed We Fucked On 72

Chapter 7 I Lose Hope

Women Wear Clothes to Demonstrate Their Grief 75

Nature 76

I Stand Here In My Poodle Skirt and Ask for Everything I Can Think Of 79

The Reason It Never Rains Is God No Longer Cares For Us 80

Insert 81

I Don't Care If It Lasts 83

I Thought Love Was a Place but Love is a Pull 84

Texting a Bunch of Guys Named John 87

Elegy What Never Was 88

I Didn't Look At Anything So There Was Nothing to Write Down 89

Romance 90

The Pull 91

Romance 92

Chapter 8 I Do Not Lose Hope

To the Death of Forests 95

Reality Steve 96

As a Maiden Intact / History Is Pointless 98

I Told You I Was Sick 99

Apology in a Common Tongue 101

Inside Me is a Separation 102

I Miss You and I'm Glad You are Not Here 104

Besides It All 105

Romance 106

Romance or The End 107

Epilogue: Somewhere there's a Nothing I'm a Part Of 111

Acknowledgments 117

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