The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Tome On The Range

Two Poems By: Sarah Jean Alexander
Karl Smith , May 17th, 2015 10:44

Two poems by Shabby Doll House co-editor and author of Big Lucks-published Wildlives, Sarah Jean Alexander, make up this week's edition of new writing on tQ

ALONE ON A MOVING TRAIN

Somewhere on another side of the world
a cat on top of the backyard shed
reclines like it is a queen and knows it
attracting sunlight on its dense black fur
selfishly consuming the heat
as if we don’t need any of our own

I have never stood alone on a moving train
with no one next to me

in the case of emergency

We exist as exits for that possible moment

You have never not been held by me in the morning
even if you try to imagine that I am not there
because afterwards it will be best that way

I am sorry, what I meant was

I am home again and you are home still

Your flag is hanging lengthwise

in front of another one of your flags
that is also hanging lengthwise
waving to the hum of multiple trains
and it is here we decide to die

But we probably won’t

because look at me I am still alive
Touch me I am still able to be touched

It is generous that you have hands and that
at times they have held me

It is lucky that I have been moved
by the weight of them and that you
have become tired from it

I know you are bothered by the presence of yours
but don’t worry

No one’s face is actually a nice thing

Don’t worry
They are all absolutely terrifying
like anything that can open and close
easily and without warning

like a trash compactor
or an asshole

Don’t tell me which stories

were dedicated to you

Tell me instead

about carrying winged animals on the same day every year
as everyone celebrates getting older
in a low mumble kind of way

Don’t tell me so many things, actually

In the dark I walked laps on a cement patio shaped like a square
In the cold I danced to Caribbean music on the same patio

at a party that was better

and warmer than ours
Don’t tell me about so many things still

The eagle in Pennsylvania sat on its eggs

during the heavy snow last spring

and then its partner flew in and sat on the same eggs

At some point they hatched and now the baby eagles will live their lives
being recognized as weird flying dogs

by all actual dogs

I am either the eagle parents of the eggs or the eggs themselves
and you are either the real dogs

or the weird flying dogs

which are really just baby eagles

Sometimes I think about

the pickle brine running down our chins

and the olives on your breakfast plate

and I make believe that salt is an important factor

in our staying alive together in exciting and lasting ways
preserving us for no discernible reason,

cured and dried out till our bodies are jerkies

for the next generation of embarrassing lovers to enjoy

The most important things to keep in mind

when it comes to things that should be remembered
I guess
are that alligator tastes like chicken

rabbit tastes like duck

the inside of my mouth tastes how you’d expect
but not how you remembered

and sometimes falling trash

can be confused for dirty snow



WAYS IN WHICH IT IS TRUE

You are the reason people still search
for new people to kiss

Similarly to the way that you are the gateway chip to,
“Yes, I have eaten the whole bag”

I have never been satisfied and known it
In other words, I have simply never tried

It’s true that I run faster than I give myself credit for
just in case someone is going to try to race me for fun
when I am already too tired

and don’t want to have any fun

It’s true that while wearing sunglasses in public
a person becomes imperceptible

Not in the way that

no one can see you
or tell that you are walking in front of them on the sidewalk

But imperceptible in every other way

My stomach rarely flushes with embarrassment
but does especially when my hands
are holding the two of your cheeks
like they are going to melt away
And your cheeks are being held
like they are considering becoming more heavy

As if a body can expand and shrink on command
in a way that is more dangerous
than breathing

And what about breathing, anyway

What if it’s not that we need to breathe in order to stay alive
but it’s our breaths that are the owners of our soul

and it’s the soul that needs this body to keep on going

What's life for if not taking everything
spoken to me as a sign to move in closer

What's life for if not using another body
as a placeholder for your fear

You are big moves in the morning

when I am wanting to be there too

but instead I am many miles away and still asleep

You are hard work in the night
when I am texting you good bye

and the messages are green and not going through
because one of us is underground

and neither of us are being easy

together

Sometimes I become so frightened

that a person I knew will become a person I know, again
and that I will have to follow through

on an infinite amount of dormant promises

that seemed nice to make at the time

It’s true that being in love

is the only way I know how to pay for gratitude

without feeling like I am going to run out of something else

It’s true that every time I open my eyes
I am bewildered that so far,

my body has not completely failed
me in a new and exciting final way

I am unconvinced that inside all of us
an at times dull, at times screamingly apparent pain
isn’t making a home

But maybe I am just cold outside in the air
and you are outside in a cold air with me

In the cold air it is difficult for anything to make a home
even if it tries very hard

Fold with me into ourselves like baby paper cranes
who don’t know how to exist without sinking

Hold onto my cheeks similarly to the way
I held onto yours

Learn how to melt away
and then do it



Sarah Jean Alexander is an American writer from Baltimore, Maryland. She is the author of Wildlives (Big Lucks Books, 2015) and has been featured in Dazed Digital, The Fader, Spork, Hobart, Fanzine and in other print & digital publications. You can see other things she has done at sarahjeanalexander.com

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.