Caroline Erickson

The Peony Heads

have all fallen off their stems.

Virginia, God forgive me, June

is killing me, and the tiger lilies prowl

for my slip up. My slip rides up

at the party. At your party, Virginia,

the punch is pink. I throw up pink punch

in the bathroom, and you stand

by the sink. Virginia,

come touch my sweating neck.

Come cut off my pink peony head.

The Image, The Making

After getting high off the one Rothko in the Nelson-Atkins we all

get barbecue and dream about God killing everyone

who eats the Rocket Pig sandwich so he can eat

their chewed-up Rocket Pig sandwich because God

is like a baby bird. God crushed a baby

bird today because God isn’t real—according to you

whom your mother gave a Teen Bible as misjudged gift

number whatever. You won’t fuck me

anymore. Whatever.

God is like a baby bird. He lives

in the arches of Jack Gilbert’s feet.

Or was it his wife’s feet? I don’t remember

the poem very well. Our friend doesn’t get

the Rothko. We try to explain it to her

but we can’t explain it to her. We can’t explain.

45 days later and an ocean away I press my cheek

against the book you gave me, as if I’d feel

your long hand annotating. That’s the grief of it,

see? It’s been walking behind me

on each trip to the grocery store. I cook soups out of boxes

with foreign instructions, and I wash blood

out of my underwear in someone else’s shower.

The other day, I went to visit my God,

the color, my God, Jack’s birds. Sunflowers,

Almond Blossom, Bedroom in Arles: you followed me

all through the museum. You told me you sat down

and sobbed on those benches, and I know

because I saw you there,

high and crying with my God, the color.

It’s too late, but come over anyways. 45 days ago,

I’ll stay a day more. You can cheat on your girlfriend

all the way, you tepid bastard

whom I love. Of course

I lied about not remembering the poem.

I say moon is horses in the tempered dark

because horse is the closest I can get to it.

You tepid bastard, I want to be worthy of it.

Caroline Erickson is a queer poet and teacher from Kansas and an incoming Creative Writing MFA candidate at the University of Virginia. Her work can be found in Anti-Heroin Chic and After the Pause, and she can be found on Instagram @c.erickson42.