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poems by megan lent

Love Poem In the La Brea tar pits I have hidden a message for you. It is sinking through millennia well-preserved for eternity. Someday when the asteroid hits and the planet collapses it will remain my vocal record of a heartbeat that rested beside you. !ill you dig me up from my sweet burial ground" I am infinite even through my mortal wounds patiently awaiting resurrection. I#m hiding in the corners of your bones winging out my arms desperate for your lips pressed against my teeth. !hen he told me $%ery few compare to you $ I thought immediately of your coolness your heavy breath wrapping around my unsteady mind. I wrote $&ou are an ama'ing bat $ hoping you#d see and tell me that. I am Los (ngeles public transit unreliable and blood-red you have missed your stop overshot. I am overlooking a canyon telling you I will write a poem about this morning. )he way the sunrise ignored your face and so far below I hoped to fall. )here was no kindness in your eyes then. I am spread out on the bottom of an opalescent pool my skirt is clinging in all the wrong places. (n enigma in the body of a man speaks to me from the surface. *is voice is dry. I am choking down your throat. I am cleaning up the mess. I am bolting through your veins. I am running late. I am destroying seven worlds. I am the atomic. )he water is in my nostrils as I try to speak your name and drown instead.

Flux I was building a time machine to get to last +ecember. &ou didn#t seem to feel the way I felt when I said we needed to meet again. ,oing back to the night in early (pril when we stood beneath the pier and you kissed me and you thought I was so beautiful and I thought you would save me. -my darling so long. )he weekend in the summer where my hair was in your lips in bed awake waiting to get our feet free with sand. (nd the moment in late /ctober where I saw you driving your spare hand steering my neck and whispered. -my darling so long. In twenty-five years you will see me crossing a street apart from you in a foreign city and you will not know me by my hair -silver in-fashion in twenty-five years. and I will call you from a payphone in a diner and you will take fifteen seconds to recogni'e my voice and I will tell you where we went wrong and you will tell me where I can fuck off to. -my darling so long.

Ghosts !hen I was nine I read her diary the way one would steal a sister0s book. I did not understand my biblical impulse to crystalli'e against mortality. She was an elegy a small thing. !hen I was seventeen I kissed a girl. I thought of her eyes holding. It was nothing to do with this girl0s blue but with her dark deep glass hidden in a skull since buried. 1y treatise burns against 2uiet needs an empty desire shallow caves far inside are bats pretty ice a cold thing. )here is life inside water there is water on planets miles and miles away. )here is a light in your face shining past your death the way your fingernails danced in art that holds a life together. like bones. like pearls. So the spirit may live we create and recreate. !e compose music with our hands weaving about strangers in bars down side streets we continue because we must. !e are a forgotten future the dearest hope of a girl in a book in the past praying on lips for our own truth.

Songs of Love and Hate &our heart is an oak it is inlaid it is amber it is mother-of-pearl3 when you thought my love was plastic fools0 gold I opened up my chest to show you my organs and bones so you could see that I meant business. &ou could run run run run but you could never stay away. (fter the fight we thought would be out last you had me walk down a hill through broken glass. I hurt my toe singing 45amous Blue 6aincoat 7 cursing to myself and swearing off your name. )he glitter that is downtown Los (ngeles notwithstanding it was an ugly night past 2 (1 and there was no one out but a couple unspeaking in a driveway. I told you I would write about you hoping that would be enough. I lay down in your bed and waited for you all night you never came.

Dont Hold Your Head Like That, Someone Might Think Youre Guilt *e was too young to know that I had heard the phrase 4I will kiss you from your neck to your navel7 many times already. *e didn0t say that but he looked at me with false pretenses. 1y point is he didn0t know he was what he was. (s he poured my glass full his dry I briefly imagined that I was on my back in the lion0s den. )hen I thought about the video of the man who owns the lion sanctuary and the lions run up to him to hug him. *e turned off the )%. *e forced a lot from my mouth and I woke up dead as the prophets. I found out later how he had been congratulating himself for his actions and I thought there is no real poetry in hating a man. It0s only interesting if you kill them or forgive them or forget them. I guess.

Ma!s 1y favorite lie is that 8apoleon shot off the Sphin90s nose. (nd I0ve heard many good lies such as 4I am not dangerous7 and 4)here are no raisins in that oatmeal cookie7 and 4I0m not feeling for you what you0re feeling for me.7 )here is nowhere in the world I want to go with the same capacity for longing as a picture of the pyramids from the cover of National Geographic. -)hese read like break-up poems because they were once but aren0t anymore but will probably be again one day.. 6ob and Laura were prime-time )hursday but then Laura passed away. 8ow when 6ob says 4my wife 7 he0s talking about somebody new. -)here is no altar for someone with eyes like mine.. 8ow you think every girl with red hair looked the way I looked now you will think every seashell ends at my ear.

"lge#ra $ In math classes I would stare at her passing by the window. I sketched and everything I drew ended up looking :ust enough like her face her body small in a skirt. She was the way it feels to sit on the hood of a car and what a nickel looks like. !e sat in a park watching barbers play bocce. ( woman sits beside us at a chess table showing us her wrinkled hands. She0s somewhere near the sea or the fog who knows anymore. She is a skylight she is 2uick she is emerald. I wish I could0ve told her that. &ou could find 9 hidden in her teeth. I want to skywrite )*; 1/S) B;(<)I5<L ,I6L I8 )*; !/6L+ IS 56/1 S(=6(1;8)/ =(LI5/68I( (8+ *(S B6/!8 *(I6 (8+ !ILL (L!(&S B; )// ,//+ 5/6 &/< :ust so I don0t forget.

" Famil of %irds I assumed when she wrote of him taking off his glasses wiping sweat from his face to shoot the sick dog that she was also writing of her own father. Because when you write it0s never about what you say but what you0re not saying and who you0re not saying it to. I go out birdwatching I see a family around a nest in a tall tree. I wait for them to leave I will gather the eggs. I am a fo9 I am a hawk. I will not break one but I will inspect and see the light blues and deep cream swirls of the near-porcelain smoothness and smallness. It0s enough to invent memories but what of the stories that did happen but that we can never tell" I left the eggs alone in the nest. )heir mother is coming.

&oshua Tree ( skull dries in a red blue desert. I am drawn through the dust and dirt by a man who says I have shark eyes. *e takes my words wrapped in silver cups and saves them for me when I will need them. In the desert I bloom around him. *e leads me up a mountain of rock so that we can see for forever. I think of a cactus shaped like a woman I think of a woman who could paint a cactus flower with the same finesse that he brushes my skin. !e belong to the desert because we have such cold skin I stand behind a spindling tree and he photographs me. I stand in the middle of the road heat swelling up shoulders burning my fists in defiance. *e is throwing something in the air and letting it fall to the ground. In the night we drink whiskey and when we sleep we are dreaming of palm trees and salt.

Gra'eland 1y brother lives on an army base in /klahoma. !hen I was 12 and he was > our favorite album was ?aul Simon0s Graceland. !e listened to it every night. I told him someday when I0m 21 and you0re 1@ we0re going to drive there. !e will go to rodeos and motels and flea markets on the way. ?eople will ask us if we really like ;lvis and we will laugh at them. Because they0ll never understand. 1y brother is learning to throw live grenades. 1y brother and I both have blue eyes. !e both like to walk on the cracks in the sidewalk. !hen we were little he had long hair and people would ask if he was my sister. )his didn0t bother either of us. !hen we were little we liked to dance around the living room. I would tell him we0re going to be famous. *e believed me. 1y brother0s hair is cut short now. !hen I was 1> I left school for a while. ( lot of things had happened. I0d had my heart broken and moved in with a man and I was sad and hurt and learning that the world was a cruel place. !hen I was home I stayed up late not sleeping. 1y brother saw me in the kitchen looking at knives. *e played the ukulele for me and made me hot chocolate. I am 21 and my brother is 1@ and I am at an airport in Los (ngeles and he is on an army base in /klahoma. I think I could go my whole life without going to 1emphis without seeing a dead stranger0s dead house. But ?aul Simon sang he had a reason to believe we all would be received at ,raceland. I think about this a lot about what it means what ,raceland represents. I think of that scene at the end of Field of Dreams and wonder what everyone in each car was thinking on the way to the baseball field. I think I0ve already been everywhere I0ve been and maybe that0s enough. I think that0s an obvious fact but what I mean by it is forget it.

Love Poem, Pt( $$ (nyone could walk into this room and see that we0re underwater. 8ot :ust you and me either. )his is a sinking ship. I hope when we0re twisting our legs around kelp and trapped by opposing currents that we find time to finally get to the bottom of things. If we0re lucky we0ll be memoriali'ed into fish tank displays. ( castle for you and me. If we0re lucky we0ll be allergic to sun and stay in the ocean until our skin wrinkles to the bone. 1aybe you know that this water-based language isn0t me searching for a solvent or some %irginia !oolf thing or because I0m thirsty but because the ocean reminds me of you not the other way around. )he ice caps are melting so maybe I0ll have my wish soon enough. &ou are the part in the movie where the girl goes you taught me how to love. I am the part in the movie where the boy goes I wish we0d never met. )his isn0t a real movie :ust one I#m making in my head. &ou are a sweater printed with a stranger0s face and I am wearing it. &ou are an adaptation of a plagiari'ed novel that I am reading for class and crying even though I know it0s all fake. &ou are a :oke that I0m playing on us both. &ou are all of my allergies e9cept instead of hives I0m getting the reali'ation that I don0t know how to leave you. I don0t want to leave you.

$ )ould like to make it so that $ never kissed an one )ho )asnt ou #ut $m not sure thats !ossi#le and even if it is !ossi#le doing so might make it so that $ never )ouldve kissed ou in the first !la'e #e'ause $ think the first time $ kissed ou it )as t)o*!arts #e'ause $ )as drunk and one*!art #e'ause $ )as daring m self to kiss someone )ho )asnt the last !erson $d )anted to kiss, and, ou kno), theres the #utterfl effe't or )hatever, and ma #e ever thing ha!!ens for a reason, #ut ou kno) )hat no) $+m thinking a#out it and it )as not to do )ith me #eing drunk or our hands on m shorts or our laugh #ut ever thing to do )ith the )a the Ferris )heel lights refle'ted in our e es (s our heads touch bodies down on benches in a cactus garden my hand on your face and your hand on mine looking at tree leaves swaying above us and hoping it0s not another earth2uake I am thinking about lips yours and mine and others and I am trying to apologi'e to you through osmosis. !e looked at very old books and letters and paintings and roses and we thought about how someone can make a soft human form out of a block of marble and I wanted to scrunch up inside your pupils and I wanted you to think I was pretty and I wanted to run my fingers over all your cells one by one. I am sorry that I keep writing about other people. It0s about processing and catharsis and memory. (nd about trying to forgive myself. (nd them. It0s about how time passes and being bitter and trying to make things different. It isn0t about you and I don0t even know if it0s about them. &ou tell me that I don0t know if I mean what I say and most of the time that0s true. I0m impulsive but I don0t like change and I do a good Stevie 8icks impression and you loved it when I sang 4&ou0re So %ain7 at that bar after the =at ?ower concert and once you were looking through a list of near-immortal animals like lobsters and clams and sponges and whales and you were so annoyed that I kept saying which animal I wanted to be -whale obviously. but then you agreed that whales would be the best to be. (nd we watched a )% show about artificial selection and we thought about breeding wolves into dogs even though neither of us likes dogs but that0s not really the point. &ou were so sad that we don0t have identical +8(. I wanted to absorb you. I am sorry that I am hard to talk to sometimes and that I am easily confused and bored and that I often forget which word I want to say when I0m trying to talk and I0m sorry that I never made it to the 8ational Spelling Bee past the =alifornia round and I0m sorry that I said you didn0t understand me and I hope that someday we0ll get this right.

,om!arative Literature )here is a concept in 5rench literature of the flAneur which is when a man walks around looking at things aimlessly kind of like in 45eeling ,roovy 7 and the fact that I0m using 45eeling ,roovy7 as an e9ample and not I don0t know some 5rench writer says a lot about me. But there aren0t many e9amples of the flAneuse e9cept in Clo from 5 to 7 and that part in Lost in Translation where Scarlett Bohansson walks around )okyo looking at flower arrangers and a temple and an arcade. I like to go on long walks without destinations. I used to do this in my early teens where I would walk across 5olsom looking at the ponds and the offshoots of the river and taking off my shoes and buying sheet music and lattes. I want to bapti'e you in the (merican 6iver and then fuck you hard. <ntil I was C I lived in the Sierra 8evada foothills eight miles from where the =alifornia ,old 6ush began but we moved because our neighbors started cooking meth. -I think that0s why at least.. It was interesting living there. /n the main street downtown there was a manne2uin hanging by a noose outside of I think a hotel or a bar. )he town was called ?lacerville but was referred to as /ld *angtown and I0m not really sure why that was. Sometimes it snowed in the winter. 1y brother and I would climb up the hill in our backyard and look at the horses through cracks in the fence. /nce he insisted he saw a unicorn and he never ever recanted this so maybe he really did. I study comparative literature and when people ask me what that means I don0t really know how to answer because I0m not totally sure what it means myself. I talk a lot about theory and sentence structure I would like to either gain or lose thirteen pounds because I am on the border of thin and chubby and would like my body to :ust pick one or the other. 1y only real skill is pretending to understand film analysis. I like lace underwear cats and champagne but not in that order. Sometimes I wonder if the moon landing was a conspiracy. It totally could have been. I hope we are bound together by ribbons and twine until we die simultaneously. *old your hand against mine and note the differences.

Pros!erina It wasnt the way he held my hand, mama, and it was of no beauty in his face that I went; but when he asked me, I could not say no. When he gave to me seven small seeds, what could I do but follow?

-otes on a S'ene I invented you you know. I wrote every line you0ve ever said. *ouses are cards and waffles and glue and they do break easily in fact. But that0s not what )*IS is aboutD D +on0t get all cute. It0s not a good look. )his isn0t about you and this isn0t about me. -(boveE ( 2uote similar to most movies of the @Fs.. -InsetE It0s about romance. It0s about fast cars. It0s about birthday cake and sand in your socks.. It0s about the girl across town that you ignored ad I left who we were supposed to stick around and save her from minivans and manicures and manufactured lawns and being a soccer mom. But her fate is already in the tape loop. &ou walk away that0s cool it0s fine that0s great. Skimming the surface of what I#m trying to say here. I think better after I0ve fallen asleep. &ou can :oin me in my dreams if you choose don0t get me wrong. ,et this all straight I0m not ;li'abeth )aylor and you0re none of the above. She -arrow to previous. is no Stella then again she is no saint. I refuse to :udge. 8o one wants me to hang around on their wrist a cheap watch you bought in =hinatown and left to waste in a sink in Seattle while your girl changed out of her underwear and made you psychotic tea. !e should spend -Between this a scene from 5rench 8ew !ave director 5rancois )ruffaut. It0s all about style.. more time together I am a good ride I don0t come with seatbelts bring your own. )he moon is less than complete but it isn0t empty it0s silver it0s a rhinestone it0s my eyes on your face( It0s telling you that it0s all okay. -=ut. ;nter new tragic character fade out slow with music. I walked to the park I thought I saw you I didn0t

Through a Glass Darkl I want to burn the sculpture garden to the ground because I let too many boys touch me there and I made the mistake of calling them men. I0ll burn down every movie theater in Los (ngeles too starting with the ones that have special screenings and re-releases. 1aybe I0ll :ust burn Los (ngeles period so that I don0t have to think about anyone anymore. I don0t think I really have the disposition to be an arsonist. 5lames that are climbing up my shins I am strapped to a cluster of board dying at the stake. I am no Beanne +0(rc my hair is too long and I wouldn0t admit to ,od telling me to do anything and I am no witch either. I will burn :ust for the sake of it. )he black-and-white smoke plumes will be perfect for pro:ection. I was never cra'ier than when I first discovered how much I needed you. I need you now. &ou are across the city building wooden bo9es and I am in a crowded Starbucks watching an Italian woman order a =aramel 5rappuccino Light. I0m wishing she was you. I would love you if you were an Italian woman who drank =aramel 5rappuccino Lights and I would love you if you were a professional mime and I would love you if you had no face and I would love you if I never knew you. )he night in Banuary I cried on a black sidewalk breathing in dirt and tears and clutching my head knowing that I am incapable of not fucking up everything beautiful I see I have an urge to destroy beehives but I never do.

Dialogue $ Have .ritten "#out M / es -4?ale Blue ;yes7 by %elvet <nderground plays 2uietly. ,<&E +o you have blue eyes" ,I6LE I0m not sure. Look. ,<&E !hat" ,I6LE )hey change. Look. )ell me. ,<&E I can0t really tell. ,I6LE Bust look closer then. ,<&E I0m looking close. I can0t tell. ,I6LE )hey0re ha'el then. ,<&E I thought you didn0t know what color they were. ,I6LE )hey change. !hen they0re blue people know when they0re green people know when they0re brown people know. &ou don0t know. So they0re ha'el. ?eople aren0t used to ha'el. )hey rarely recogni'e it. -Scene.. -( ,<& and a ,I6L sit on a couch beside each other. ,<&E &our eyes. )hey0re beautiful. ,I6LE )hey0re grey. ,<&E )hey0re beautiful. -Scene..

The ,hild It looks at me with tiny brown eyes. ( delicate face. 5at little hands. ;verything about it is ordinary. ( te9tbook definition of a child. It is a small thing ( soft thing. I look at him his name on my phone his arm brushing mine apologetically. *e says something offensive to the man behind the desk in the lobby Gbecause he is frustrated not because he0s a :erkG and rubs his face while I grab the room keys. )he child still looks. In the elevator I ask him if he thinks we0re going to be okay. *e tells me not to ask things like that. So I don0t. I lean our suitcases against the wall open the drapes look out at the parking lot the desert the gray hills beyond it. I tell him that I feel dusty and dry from the drive and I go to turn water on in the bathtub. I sink in to the soap and the li2uid and the stale scent of cleaning ammonia closing my eyes for a minute. /pen. *e0s in the doorway he0s ne9t to the bath he has his hand on my knee he0s kneeling on the floor both knees a genuflectG as if I am something holy to see something worth noting a tabernacle. *e climbs in fully dressed on top of me cradles his head underneath my chin. !ater pour out of the sides of the tub I think of the child in the lobby I think of the cells in my body I think of the pores in his skin. I hear him whisper to the heart in my chest we will be /H

You .ill -ever 0no) $f "n of This Ha!!ened )here are many ways to tell a story. *ere is oneE !hen I was fourteen I had a best friend. She was sick with one of those 4white girl diseases7 that afflict people who aren0t white girls too but she was a white girl so I guess it0s accurate. I slept on her floor every night when she was sick trying to hear if her heart would stop in the night. I was so scared. She went to the hospital for two weeks and got her mom to ask the doctors to let her out. I was so tired of her by this point that when she died I didn0t feel anything. )hat0s not precisely true. She didn0t die. She0s alive and well in San 5rancisco. !hat I0m saying is is that there are many things that are true that aren0t real. *ere0s anotherE I had a friend who sent me essays and stories and articles that she thought I0d find interesting. Some she wrote and I liked them best but others were :ust things she found online. /nce she sent me a book only it wasn0t a book it was a conversation. Between a man and a woman. )heir te9ts. It was beautiful. )hey talked about trees and aging and water and se9 and magic. I began to search around for the authors who were only identifiable by their )witter handles and I found that I was ac2uainted with the man. (nd that was cool. I told my friend this and she thought it was funny. )hen I started looking for the other author the woman. (nd I found that she had died. I remembered her name after reading itGshe0d died tragically but in a way that could have been an accident or could have not been an accident. I0d never spoken to her. In my head I think I had her confused with another girl who0d died the year before who killed herself after a mean internet boy told her she didn0t deserve to live. -)he same mean internet boy used to like to message me that I was fat and a slut unprovoked. It really hurt me then but probably wouldn0t hurt me now. I#m not sure why it wouldn0t hurt me now as I am still insecure and sensitive but I think I would find it oddly amusing that someone would go out of their way to try to belittle me. ?eople have all kinds of ways of coping. Some are useful and some are harmful. 8ot all work. 8ot all are okay. But I think I0ve accepted this.. I told my friend about the woman and she didn0t understand. I guess that makes sense. !e didn0t know her. But I think what hit me was was that we had e9perienced her words. She had touched us. (nd now she was gone and we didn0t even know it. !e were holding her time capsule. It0s like the poems I used to write about the wife of a man I had a brief online affair with. *ow I don0t know anything about her but decided that she was a great chess player. (nd that she read the Bible. (nd that she had black hair. So I wrote all these things about a woman playing strategic games and 2uoting Bob and lifting her hair from her shoulders but I don0t know if any of that happened.

I like to tell the story about the time I met /wen !ilson and the time my best friend and I took a train to the %alley and were stuck their for hours and the trip I took to see all the =alifornia missions when I was ten. I tell people I0ve been through lots of earth2uakes but I haven0t really. I tell people I was never religious but I was an altar server for three years. I reali'e about the girl and the woman and the wife that they were all true in some ways. )he story with the woman really happened. )he other two almost did. But they were truer than that I think. /r they were all :ust as true as every other story. )here is a city of three million surrounding me and everyone has a thousand words playing through their heads at rapid-speed right now. ;veryone wants something and needs something else. ;veryone is searching.

Santa "na .inds )his could blow us both over. )his could be the end. )his could be natural disaster earth-shattering apocalypse. I am afraid of the way you look at me I am afraid of falling down flights of stairs I am afraid of death. )he faultlines below us are trembling and aching they want us gone but we refuse to budge. (nd with the wind in our hair and dirt clinging to our teeth we stare forward toward paradise.

1egan Lent writes poetry short fiction and nonfiction occasionally performs standup comedy and works on screenplays for fun. *er work has been featured online at sites including %I=; )he 8ervous Breakdown )he *uffington ?ost and 1eta'en in print in Illuminati Girl Gang, Vol ! and "eep This #ag $%a& from Children, Vol ! and in the *ousefire collaboration Nouns of $ssem'lage She is the author of the ebooks (ou )ere a *art& #ut I )asn+t In,ited -?angur Ban ?arty. Three -tories -Be (bout It. and *atron -aints -8(?. as well as four ebooks with 1ariah Hrochmal. She is a student in Los (ngeles.

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