The Poetry Project

Two Poems

cassandra lee

20 april 2021

cold out, huh?
federal judge says it’s not

a poster says

form follows foreplay

and so i agree

that feeling when you see another poster
shaped just like yours

you’re going to want to make meaning

i don’t blame you. i want meaning, too

all the time

but i encourage you to let meaning be silk

let it

sneak in. i pledge allegiance

to my age
and location

i pledge allegiance to my phone
that works so hard for me
no i don’t / yes i do

i bathe a rock from the yard
in rose water. the rock has
rings in it

the smells of this day
are malt and fried chickens
and i am tired

for taurus season
so tired x is everyone?
our fence wobbles
i love to share a fence
with neighbors
we’re lucky we get along

a tight ship means not taking on
too much water, not sinking

i was wrong. a tight ship has
tight ropes
the crew works well together
stern instructions
and repercussions
but, yes, well-caulked seams

a tight ass is
straightlaced, rigid, and

i googled the emotional significance
of hemorrhoids several times

right, well yea, so
fences don’t work
they’re fake we just agree to forget that

same with houses

my illusion of privacy was punctured by

evan. his puppy pierre needed a place to pee

then a bigger dog from down the street with a man chasing after

(i offered to lend them a leash). a hobo spider

a guy that let himself in through the gate and was squatting

then inside a bumblebee that kept bumping into lightbulbs

then a wasp in the sill of the bedroom i almost forgot about
but finally they crawled onto my piece of paper
and allowed me to carry them out

[I haven’t filed my taxes]

It’s not a matter of thinking about it
it’s a matter of getting it done
but I can’t figure out what contraction
I must release in order to do so

I’m dating a guy named Charles and
the therapist I work with is Chuck
and N calls sharing your feelings
chundering. I think I can keep that straight
I have so far. You know when you find out
what yes feels like and realize everything
you thought was yes was actually maybe

I mean desire but also that feeling of
I want to do anything with this person
like I will finally get over my fear
of butt stuff because this person
wants to stick things up my butt

The petulant teen side of me
what does she/they want?
Money I can choose
to submit to
snow in the winter, a tree branch to snap off and
land on the roof then gently tumble down
(which did happen during the windstorm)

No, not really. I want an Italian, pewter matchbox
to take matches out of when I light candles or a
silver-plated, Edwardian-style pillbox to take my
pills out of when I take them

N asks ‘why is your heart beating so fast’
instead of just telling me it’s beating fast and I
say ‘because … in order to fit into what’s
required of me’. That’s the sick humor of it —
our inability isn’t real but there’s pills for it
which, offbrand, are $2 with healthcare
and $54 without, plus $300 for the Rx

I keep going to the Montana Antique Mall
they call me Sir when I walk in which I’m getting
accustomed to. I sold a bunch of things online
then used cash to buy a cabinet. I want to buy
a print of a communist woman with thick wrists
and a handful of wheat in each fist but I can’t

Usually I have to use the bathroom by the 2nd floor
on account of taking in all the residue of old things,
you can look at everything or look for something in particular which gives
purpose. When someone in the groupchat asks for ‘contemporary artists
who you think are exemplary in what you are describing’ the best answers
are 1) what I’m asking for is something I haven’t seen yet and 2) dolphins

Anyway when I get to the 4th floor of the antique mall I am too full of residue
to keep going but I don’t like not finishing the job (I like not starting the job)
so I keep looking at all the things in every stall and meet the man that runs the
one stall in the corner with the Persian rugs and good wooden boxes He has
the gray ponytail of a tall, lanky man though he is shorter and heavyset I like to
visit this stall because this man understands patina. I tell him that and ask
‘how long have you been doing this?’ and it feels like the moment in a
documentary when the subject is about to say the most alive thing

He scans the objects in his stall and sees what he’s looking for — a
ceramic, painted camel the size of a person’s head and he picks it up and
walks closer to me and says ‘since I was 9’ and I say ‘who taught you?’ and
he says ‘my grandmother’ and I say ‘what did she teach you?’ and he says
‘when my brothers and I went over to her house and started
roughhousing we shattered two art deco dogs she had on her shelf within
about 30 seconds, just shattered and our grandma gestured down to all
the pieces and said ‘these are just things, but you boys, you boys are my
treasures’. I wanted to ask him more good questions but I didn’t have
enough for more real intimacy plus even with a mask you shouldn’t stay
in a building too long

Work from We Are How We Live: Collectivity & Care In & Beyond the Household with Rebecca Teich