A Murder of Librarians
having suitably sucker-punched the night
the tequila talked off the table we are back
to the stuff of our bones we shove fists
into each other and pour lead into the dents
they make it's true we exist you say
it's a good idea to break a bottle, hold it like a crucifix
if what we ward away would harm us, then that's evil alright
you say let's make some veins sing
all over el patio, mujeres thrum their men dance before the end
of our stares, hyenaed we take the women
two by two pulling them into our betweens
letting their softness bully us
then we take the men
you're barrel-walking and proud of my pockmarks
and suddenly the guns in our hands
have somewhere they need to be the sky is laughable
it doesn't know what dark is the wind of me is older
than the name of here, and we own each other
i was here before the stars
you shoot in the air the saddle between my legs works
like a miracle we name our horses accordingly.
you start to feel like all the dirt in the world.
Sometimes you see the young man you knew
inside the skin of this deflated one,
punk in pleats, bekhakied skater,
as if he has been drugged and eaten
by a mid-level manager not out of hunger
but rather boredom.
Sometimes, you look good, never better.
Mostly you do not.
Once, it is in traffic, you singing along
to Salt-N-Pepa, he in a car far nicer
than the rusting truck in which he took
your good bra as a trophy, hanging it
from the antenna, donuting the Kmart parking lot
the night you learned smoking was a good way
to kill time between disasters. Sometimes,
it is at a party you did not want to go to,
hair unwashed, skirt unpressed, crust of spit-up on your neck,
so that when you see him, though he is fatter and fading,
you think of why you stayed those extra months,
the gentleness with which he parted you,
and your full breasts let down their milk.
The New Year
We don’t realize it’s midnight until the gunfire,
erupting like acne across the unscrubbed streets,
waves of it rising to meet each other, two oceans jealous
of each other’s thunder. I’m trying to say something
about hopelessness, how it’s not always an absence but rather
an opening. I know how little the accident of my existence
deserves. My son was born on my birthday—a lesson
dipped in blessing. I am made of only so much
paper: to draw him I had to erase some of my lines.
Up close the smudges look like shadows though
it’s hard to say from where the light to make them shines.
When I jog it is not for health or happiness but
to prepare for the apocalypse, to outrun whatever comes—
the first lesson I learned was that no one takes you in,
no matter how heavy with miracle you are, leaving you to lie
in a barn, blood in the straw, birthing your own salvation.
Erin Adair-Hodges is the 2016 Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholar in Poetry and winner of the 2014 Loraine Williams Prize from The Georgia Review. Her poetry and prose can be seen in journals such Boulevard, The Georgia Review, Green Mountains Review, Kenyon Review, The Pinch, and more. She lives and teaches writing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she co-curates the Bad Mouth Reading Series.