The Boiler

Katie Prince

elegy for all the times we used to get drunk

in the church where his memorial service
is being held. a game of marked cards jenga a falling block

& no one ever won but we were never done arguing—

say, who is better at this game, or if there are twenty-eight crosses
in this room does that mean god can see us fucking

one summer the rain wouldn’t stop & his windshield wipers
were not fast enough to clear the water & the parking lots

outside were a bluish blur & we laid in the back soaked
& wrapped up in ourselves & it was the first time

I saw a car as an island, or a home—us

buzzed in the mustang because we never wanted to live
anywhere else. a texas september is a window down, & I can’t close

my eyes without wondering how it felt. if he saw it

coming. in the past we were always underwater—now I am

outside I am touching his name it is sunny & dry & I am talking

to the ashes I am saying—remember how we never knew how to change

how texas felt like a flood & I loved you once


feeling ill in a novelty restaurant

the scene: yellow walls and too much eye contact.
an uncertainty nobody feels or nobody wants to.
betty boop winks from the wall. the word hate
doesn’t fit the tone but gets said anyway.
all this wide-eyed uncomfortable silence,
all this white noise. a beer gone. a struck-out stack
of stale chips. some mild salsa. this stone broke
feast. this trash on the floor. all the directionless
anger neither needs express. both a skipping
record, I don’t know why I do things like this.
this cold, wet taco. a wilted shred of brown
lettuce. the bitter thick of breath. neither needs
to sit in this booth tonight. nobody is willing to leave.


if I were a speeding train (a cyborg love song)

in a field of bluebonnets I am winding—
a clock, my past—I am blue, wearing a bonnet.

or I am the sky: composed of loose parts. I cannot
hold me anymore. how much of us can be

replaced with iron—a kneecap, a hip, a heart?

let us fit ourselves with gears.
let us wheel ourselves nearer.

if I could I would cart you across
oceans, tucked away as precious cargo

in my robot chest. but I have no door,
no key, no bloodless steel cavity. no—

I’ll never be this speeding train: the long stitch
across the belly of the country,

the struck pendulum, the prison.

_________________________________

Katie Prince received her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her poems have been published in or are forthcoming from Spork, Smoking Glue Gun, the Portland Review, and Fugue, among others.