Two Poems by Emily Bannon
LOVE POEM FOR TRADE #2
I wish you would call me a bitch
and take me over your knee
but I’m too shy to ask.
I bring my dad up in conversation
a little too often.
When you pulled out a crackpipe
I warned you I was impressionable.
You laughed at me
and the gaps in your teeth
lit up my heart
like a Viennese cathedral.
You say your wife left you, Daniel,
but your wife didn’t leave you.
Your ex-wife left you.
That was years ago.
I am your wife now
and I am right here.
DJ COLTRANE'S HOLOGRAM
On Sunday, you read me poems from your phone.
I am a poor strategist.
I prefer to collapse in the face of things.
I am amenable to suicide.
When prayer visits me,
I pray Elizabeth’s morbid archipelagos
exist only in our imaginations.
You see? I am willing to believe in God.
For you, I am willing to suffer
any number of indignities.
It was in the March of the winter
our dirty clothes were all in storage.
I turned around and there she was.
That’s what I’ll tell them,
when they ask me how I met my wife.
I turned around and there she was:
Jennifer crying on the street.
Or, it was more like we collided as I was walking
out of a bodega on 7th.
(On 7th what?
In Brooklyn? Queens?
My Manhattan pied-à-terre
is the implicit center
of the cosmopolitan universe.
To add insult to injury,
I say bodega now.)
I squint and try to imagine my life
if, instead of making contact,
I’d have walked right through her
and kept walking,
never looking back.
I am a tireless revisionist.
Of history, of sentences.
That’s why I’m awake writing.
When she is drunk, she makes me very tired.
I barely understand her English.
We switch to Spanish
and I barely understand her Spanish either.
She teaches me over and over
that I have no native tongue.
Even when she’s sober,
her phone is always dead.
When she’s drunk she’s always crying
in the street or in my bed.
Mechi texted me a long voice memo
advising me to blame my parents
but I am too tired to remind her
that I have no blame to go around.
I have only my idiot money
and two blind eyes
and a burning wish
to lie down somewhere quiet.
You read me poems aloud
from your phone
while I thumb through my inbox,
marking emails from my mother
I love you,
but I can’t field your stupid questions.
Lately it has been harder to write.
By lately I mean the past 9 years.
I am constantly distracted
by neon signs, reflective surfaces,
pockets of precipitation
illuminated by streetlamps,
the unfathomable geometry of every tree
I pass. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.
I think of my Chinese friend
who is a genius.
The awe I feel walking down the sidewalk with him
on a winter night,
embarrassed that someone so brilliant
would be charitable enough
to accept my dinner invitation.
He points to icicles
dripping from a street sign,
likening them to a fish skeleton
from our bygone meal.
I nod, entranced.
He follows with some remark,
maddening in its nonchalance,
about the depth of the sky.
Witless, I quiver.
I am content to.
This is my lot.
How many times
after a night of brutal self-inquisition
have I started my whole life over
only to discover, the next day,
that I was still wrong?
squishing your nose and nipples
against my snowed-in window.
years ago on the roof,
streaking light-trails through the dark
with our arms.
I love you.
Could I ever love you?
This is neither a poem
nor an artifact.
No artifact I could produce
could prove that you were here.
Emily Bannon is a voice actor who grew up in many places, including Altadena. She wakes each morning without a question even though the whole world is burning.