Krystal Languell

You Could’ve Knocked Me Over With a Feather

Just get out of there and forget about it
Alexis insists about New York City

Driving through some boneyard carnage
The spooky sunset comes clear through

I’m keeping a bowl of water under my bed
because the cat likes to drink there

Make sure your hands are clean
Find a half-eaten cookie very casually

When I babysat last decade I had
plastic grapes in my backseat for years

I set a password for a game about penguins
The real hayseeds call it an “ink pen”

My friend wrote about me giving her pills
and I’ve got other friends I get different pills from

But if you already know who to trust
Stop me I can’t teach you anything useful

The pain seemed so minor for so long
Lying on my side tears leak out not crying

Competence is not a personality
Get out of there and forget about it

I Ask a Non-human for Help

I picked at a scab in the metaphysical store and thought it was a good idea to leave a bit of scab there, that it might help my case with the spirit world. I didn’t want to disrupt the energy of the store, so I waited for everyone else who was ready but not exactly in line to pay before me. An undergrad buying heaps of supplies for his dorm room received a lot of advice. A young couple harassed the store cat gently while I bought a candle to ask it for money. The cat, on its side, showed its belly to communicate submission, cooperation.

The fake fireplace logs might be so heavy because they are haunted. A Marine at the bar told me his dead mother speaks to him. He thanked me when I told him his story made sense. I burn sage before we’re unpacked and hope not to ignite the nylon suitcases. Hundreds of miles away a partial animal jaw with two molars intact appeared on my windowsill. I asked: Who sent you? Someone said it was from a dog. Someone else said someone they knew would know. I took all the magic available with me to my new home. On the second floor fire escape, had the jawbone fallen from above or did it fly?

Baseball Poem Written by a Woman

In St Louis tonight, the shortstop tips over the left field wall, his left arm extended to break his fall lands in a woman’s nacho cheese and as he slips his right leg flies up to kick a plastic tray of nachos out of a fat white man’s hand. The man drops his jaw. The player licks his wrist. Workers kick dirt over the man’s cheese—maybe for safety, for aesthetics, lack of a broom—and the trainer comes out to sponge his hand. One of those Renaissance paintings. The open mouths. The athlete’s body on display linking the spectators and their nacho cheeses. The bodies never stop moving.

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Krystal Languell lives in Chicago, where she works for the Poetry Foundation. She is the author of three books: Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVox, 2011), Gray Market (1913 Press, 2016), and Quite Apart (University of Akron Press, forthcoming 2019). She was an adjunct in New York City for seven years.