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
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.