Three Poems by Kenzie Allen

Remember when I loved you so much I would break things?
I don’t love you like that anymore so you don’t need to call the cops.
I love you in that particular way of hoping you will self-
-flagellate, douse yourself in gasoline and throw yourself onto
the Olympic torch. I really will mummify your ass
given half a chance, or even the briefest skin
for thirsty nails—I will tear the dermis right off
if you come any closer, or if I do. It’s the worst song
on single repeat for half a day and counting, the sweat
thick on the windowpanes and no movement
to the air, it’s some kind of sugar coat already
rimming the pint bottom and a straw split
up the middle which keeps catching and cutting
the tongue of a girl (woman) who likes to talk on the phone
with her friends, likes to shop for spices she will
never use, used to collect bedspreads for every
man in her pantheon, knows every star chart,
has her own set of wheels and triggers and
somewhere deep in the closet still has that cruise liner shirt
from your family outings, from seas she’s
never been on. She wants her things back,
now open the door.

I’ve seen every Emily
in the entirety
of the graduate
student directory
while trying to find
your Emily.
I found her.
I tried to smile
like she smiles
in the photos
you’ve liked.
I tried to find my own
toothless platitudes
to type up
in typewriter font
and upload to my
cover photo
so everyone,
even strangers,
even the ghosts
of your new love-
‘s old love, can see
how worldly I am
in this version.
The other Emilys
linger in corners
as though awaiting
their turn. The Emily
with natural curls.
Emily with darker
or lighter skin,
dog-person Emily,
Emily of the slender
arms and who has
hobbies. Two-years-
-younger Emily. Cups
full of Emily that cuddle
in their fullness, and which require
one of those custom-fitted
bras which clasp in the front.
Emilys who give better
or worse blowjobs
than me. Emilys
who do what you do,
with whom you have
so much in common.
This Emily’s parents
love older boys. Each Emily
even better than the last.
This classy Emily.
This pliant Emily.
The Emilys shake
my hand, they cocktail
and taffeta, they descend
the spiral stair and pause
long enough for a group
photo. Each Emily
adds every other Emily
on the Facebook.
For aren’t they all good
friends, those born
of the floodplains and
in the fertile years
after disaster.

How the doorways became ruined mouths
once a mistake had been made. Their gables
arched lids or drooping stares. The streets,
lonely. I looked for you, but it was not
a working number. It was dark wine
over a thousand dollar rug in shaking
hands. Grip that table, hold her
like the earth moves. The other days
an alone dream into which I let the city
whisper a void. Of what in me was not
empty. Of where the taxis will not go.
On the day you came I lived pale, a blue
dream in which I spoke perfect French.
Now my tongue is unknown again, past
and present the same dull thing. My mouth
turns to film, cloudy as a minute, responsive
to every chemical and my ashen fingers
quick on the tessellations, which resembled
an ocean but were not an ocean. Rooftops
and tile everywhere. Your skin gold
as good clothing pinned to a line within reach.

Kenzie Allen is a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. She is a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, where she was the recipient of Hopwood Awards in poetry and non-fiction, and her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Drunken Boat, SOFTBLOW, The Puritan, and other venues. She is the managing editor of the Anthropoid collective.