“There Are Three Dead People In Me”
Emily Kendal Frey is a poet I like. She lives in Portland, Oregon and teaches at Portland Community College. She is the author three chapbooks: Airport (Blue Hour 2009), Frances (Poor Claudia 2010), and The New Planet (Mindmade Books 2010). A full-length collection, The Grief Performance, was selected by Rae Armantrout for the 2010 Cleveland State University First Book Prize, and is forthcoming in the spring of 2011. A new series, Sorrow Arrow, appears in regular installments at Ink Node.
Here is a new poem, [A HISTORY OF KNIVES]:
When I met you we were the shape of salt shakers. I married my dad and threw him in the ocean. I dragged him along the bottom as he filled with salt. I opened my legs and a grasshopper was there. Your first home was a house on stilts with butter dishes. I slept in the shape of what you told me about your house. I met you and we became pigeons under the rafters and held on hard. We became barnacle-shaped butter dishes. I met you and you put me on ice and I froze in the corner of your first bed. Spring was coming and the buds lined up for us to enter. I entered you slow as life. You moved into life with a sleeping porch and a butter dish in the corner and my dad moved. There was a feeling among us of a movie star with sideburns sitting and holding a knife. I could stab the walls of your house. I could bleed on your house and my dad would bleed. My grandfather taught me to swim and also how to bale hay. After the wedding we sat by the lake and he threw a small stone in it. I saw him throw a small stone in the lake. Let’s talk about the Fibonacci sequence. Let’s talk about the time you walked around your house and I waited in the park with the sun hitting my jaw. A few albino ants scurried through the grass and your neighbor was waiting to watch us walk into the house. I was not there, not walking, no grandfather, no knife. I was sleeping in your first bed with a butter dish, softening in the late spring. Walk up the hill to your old house and sleep and your neck will be a vein for the city and people will buy vintage ashtrays decorated in roses and the city will sleep in the butter-thick night. The city will be a chorus for you and your neck. Your neck sings and the porch and the subway rattling by like a knife. You want to get to my neck and I’m a subway station filled with knives. I can sit by you on the subway and smell your boots. My grandfather took the subway in from New Jersey most of his life. He didn’t believe in education. He didn’t know what pizza tasted like. I can smell your feet. You think I will lie down in the grass but you are someone who eats butter under the slats. There are three dead people in me.
Here are some links to other poems, all of them worth your time:
from The Grief Performance:
A selection of Jalapenos:
Two poems from The Pain Archivist:
A few selections from Sorrow Arrow: