My student said something
didn’t apply to his “turn down”
generation. Couldn’t tell you
what. Put my place in the class
against my poems: just something from someone
birthed into better-than-most means.
What one says hardly matters. Just show up
and fill the air with words and words and words.
(Sorry, haunting hero, Atwood.
There is distinctly no power.)
If you didn’t do this act of supplying words to empty areas,
things would be a bit different, but not enough
so you should guzzle purple liquid sleeping toxins
to punish your regrettable lack of perfection.
Is this bit of difference one makes enough to fight nihilism?
To resist calling audible allusions to the Never Ending Story
or some other Gen X/Millennial spanning trickery?
The star of that movie killed himself. So I guess, No.
Nadir and Zenith
In the tub
A fuchsia soap that soaked
Metal shelves at the drugstore
Puddles in her hand.
(What does this timeline say about her judgment?)
After a squirt,
She scoops a dying mosquito from the water;
Pink pooling heavy under the insect-stigmata on her palm.
She flings the hypodermic animal
Onto the bath rug.
The soap boasts 12 hours of perfume-wafts upon touch(es).
She worries for the Latina from the commercial who may not yet be inured to these sort of “promises”. (Or perhaps more for her target audience.)
Held with the tiny corpse, the product somehow feels cheaper.
She scrubs at her lifelines like Lady Macbeth
was truly any part of her ethnic memory.
Her mother’s grandfather was euphemistically called a sharecropper.
A migrant fruit picker who only sometimes brought his many children
to the transcontinental harvests. West and west and west and west—then back
to the middle again; following the fruits flowering into crescendo.
“My mother a gleam in one of the urchin’s eye.”
She, in this tub, is destiny manifest: The organic and inorganic pools did simultaneously surround the curled mosquito in her smooth palm.
The colors and geometry strike beyond my ability to sublimate symbols.
She sees stars.
With the bug flung out, she scrubs the unearthly pearlescent stain of “soap”. Color worse than blood. More sickening. More staining. The luxury of unknowing was torn away in her parents’ meteoric upward mobility. She affords what her provenance never could: Pacifism. Individualism. Deep leisure. These are her primogeniture. Given by her blood-relations unknowingly. At great expense. When they see what they gave her, they despise her: Their only child, utterly foreign.
“I don’t think the recorder knows that word.”
you’ve fucked it up.
things are fucked.
a cash advance,
a falling stand.
things are on paper.
your child’s skin is paper-thin.
this shame is ours to share.
the equipage is spent
on its own forging’s firmament.
these demands on my attention
i am poor because
i loved poetry so much,
and money so little.
it’s all on paper,
for everyone to see.
a cash advance.
a writing degree.
Evelyn Hopkins is a poet working as a creative writing adjunct in Bradenton, Florida. She holds an MFA from Brooklyn College. Her poems have appeared in Other Rooms Press, Generations Literary Review Xavier Review, and others.