Three Poems by Kristen Brida

1963

what high hopes i had for you,
miss monroe because i saw
more money in what you’ve said to vanity fair than the pictures of you in its centerfold.
what direction does the wind waft the skirt of your dress today?
to a farmer’s market in philadelphia?
where babies blubber in strollers and
workaholics let the october breeze
whisk their naked cheeks into cherry stains,
and even the grumpy hag on the corner of plumstead
emerges from her shack to
see the neons of all the fruit?
the lemon zest confettied, the gala apples
in whicker buckets, the celery sticks all stacked?
the infinity of the zinc, reams of raspberries
and how could i forget the penumbra of
the pomegranates! the human eye could not
ignore the juxtaposes of these pigments.
but you, miss monroe, why do you bat your cat eyes
and blow kisses at the fathers
piggybacking their daughters through the city?
there are no cameras here.
even charlie chaplin’s working
behind the strawberry stand.
here, have a bite of one.
why do your lips pucker?
does the citrus not take to you? a glass of hand-squeezed lemonade pinot grigio blueberry cobbler with a crust from scratch creme brûlée butternut squash soup lobster bisque.


the shakes

I know why post-world war mothers smothered
their hands over their children’s eyes when elvis popped up on the television box,
took a microphone in his hand,
and thrusted his pelvis at them,
like he was a salesman at a pocketbook kiosk.
Mothers didn’t want them to see teenyboppers rioting to shake the american dream off their hips, the women all slobber at his junk,
concealed in silk white bellbottoms
as it took over the screen.
It cradled between his thighs like the clasp of a church bell in a steeple,
only sounding off when the sky was black,
and the town’s priest was asleep.


cathexis

(previously published in Catfish Creek)

they shipped me off
to a free health clinic in coketown.
because i enjoyed feeling for every surface
around me, from
island kitchen countertops to
lumberjack junk. surgeons dig
syringe teeth into my skin,
struggle to numb my nerve
endings.
they knot and twist tube
my veins and arteries so i couldn’t
discern when my blood was
spiking or curdling.

following the incisions they take me
to an asylum white room,
where a phrenologist sits
on my cockroached cot
and feels around my head, for bumps and contusions.
“i’m peeling tomatoes instead
of dicing them; zippers on
hoodies instead of the pullover kind;
you’re paul bunyan and i want to see
your fingers claw into sycamore barks
and axe the roots from soil as pinecones
knot in your rat’s nest beard. i like to pin down your drumstick thighs
as you choke words out of me.”

the phrenologist says
“she’s far too handsy”
and they inject my arms
with gangrene. they hover
over me, waiting for them
smell like liver rot so they
can gut the zest out of me.


Profile: Kristen Brida

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