Five Poems by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Amanda

has fat goblets of reef water for eyes, champagne
for laughter, and the entire pantheon of 70s rock
as her soundtrack. She dated my brother. She eats
constantly and weighs nothing. She is half Dutch,
half Puerto Rican, half fantasy girl. She only wears
her glasses when she was tired. Weeps constantly.
Makes mixtapes studded with old Paul Simon and
old Elvis Costello and songs she recorded herself
when she was eleven. She kissed everyone and
everyone kisses her back. In New Orleans, she got
a black-and-white tattoo of a hammer on her calf
for absolutely no reason. She took a job walking
dogs after college, and hosts her own radio show
on quirky local station. These days, she’s happy.
She lives in Jersey City, comes to the city often.
She DJs in Manhattan at the Ding Dong Lounge
and that’s not a metaphor. Amanda literally DJs
at a place called the Ding Dong Lounge.

*

Patrick

worked at Fall Café in the Bergen section of Brooklyn
and would let me all the stale scones I wanted during
six long jobless months. I never met his ex-girlfriend,
who all our friends said was a bitch, and I liked him
so much because he was always working and looked it:
all grease and grit and stumble. The nights the parties
ran late, I would crawl into his bed and imagine I was
his girlfriend. It was embarrassing for both of us.
When he fell in love with a British nanny who taught
him how to surf off the coast of Brooklyn, my heart
high-fived itself so hard it broke a little. They married
in a sailor’s chapel in Norway. In the photographs,
he is cleanly shaved. His grey suit crisp. His bride,
a blur of happy movement. They smile for the camera,
their eyes wide open.

*

How Today Is Like My Body

The morning is a rattling chest cold. My boyfriend
is the heart medication I accidentally left at home.
Uncertainty is the circulatory system my blood
is being forced to travel; anxiety, a tourniquet
popping all my veins. The future is a prescription
whose writing I can’t quite read. The future is
a pharmacy with its gate down. The future is
an ingrown eyelash I keep trying  to flush out.
The past, a swollen gum line tender to the touch.

*

Horrible Moving Tips You Could Glean From My Most Recent Move

Remove the grills of the toaster oven.
Fill it with your up-opened pasta sauce jars.
Tape shut. Done.

Discover Christmas jar on top of fridge.
Open it to see it is filled with old mint M&Ms.
Go to dump M&Ms out so that you can fill
the jar with ceramic dachshunds.  Eat M&Ms.
Eat all the old M&Ms.

Find flat Christmas decoration everywhere.
Stick them on the side of transparent plastic bins.
Thus turning every bin into a Christmas bin
for no reason.

Know that you will feel better if you clear out
one section of the apartment entirely. Decide
to empty entire closest on the living room floor.
Sit in the middle of the pile. Weep.

Decide to take a break just before you tape up
a box of your old college diaries. Opt to crack
open a diary for a laugh. Hours pass. Weep.

Decide to use up all the instant ice tea packages
so you don’t need to pack them. Fill assortment
of water bottles with guessed measurements.
Some bottles tasty like dirty water. Others,
like tea flavored sludge. Mix up the decaf
with the full strength. Drink too much. Weep.

Get into screaming match with boyfriend.
When he comes in to apologize, listen carefully
as he says, I’m sorry. But the heat makes me
cranky. Scream back at him, Well, it’s a good thing
we are moving to TEXAS!! 

Write a poem instead of packing. Look up.
Weep.

*

Walking Home in a Heat Wave

My sunglasses begin to slide down my nose,
a puddle forming at the bridge. My teeshirt
is becoming translucent under my backpack.

An afternoon of writing in a cafe, and I am
cocky from the hours of air conditioning.
I decided to walk home. Why not?

On the bridge linking Center City to West,
I walk for seven minutes in uninterrupted sun.
The river is a hot puddle. A dead fish rides it

upside, its shiny silver belly to the sky.
When I reach the other side, it’s still ten
blocks until I’m home. At that point,

I am a dead fish, a cooked crab, an apple.
I stumble in the door, slick as a bathroom
floor. My partner is in his underwear,

fan blowing directly on him. I drop
my bag on the couch and head right
for the kitchen. Well, that was stupid. 

I say, gulping tap water. I can’t believe you
left the house at all, he said. My head under
the faucet, I nod. My forehead weeps.

More poetry at Used Furniture.

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Comments

  1. Enjoyed all five poems. “How Today Is Like My Body” is a classic in both concept and execution!

  2. greatriverart says:

    I absolutely loved Amanda and Patrick – such complete character sketches in very simple language.

  3. All of these are great. Actually, “How Today is Like My Body” got me a bit misty, I’ll admit.

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  1. […] O’Keefe Aptowicz has five marvelous poems at Used Furniture […]

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