Lauren Russell

I Will Tell the Story That Wants to Untell Me.

I will grip it by its cowlick and ride it across the rug   the table   the love-

seat   the drawing board   the bathroom sink   and finally lean too far

back so the secret slips out of me. The story is agonizing. She can’t trust

her gut, a knot unraveling. When she took out the box, I said, “Not

that one.” We unwound the plotlines that were always riding up.

Someday I’ll meet a story that slides like a fist. It will lunge

and dip. I won’t double up, will swallow the wind. Is gravity

in a falling gaze, a tongue that bucks, a gliding away? The story

pulled Beowulf off the shelf. She loved Grendel’s mother, hardest

to kill. The murder was long and took several spears.

The hero of the story won’t be the one who wins but the one

who can most valiantly harness her fears. But all she can find

in my eyes are shields—the question deflected, climax unwelcome.

When I went down laughing, she arched so deep she should have lost

her hold on me. I kept backing up and hit my head on the ending.


I Slept in a Maze-Pacing Boat

I slept in a boat studded

with hubcaps, with beer caps,

with castanets at the prow         castanets

painted violet and gold.


I slept in a boat sometimes

with a woman and sometimes a man

and always a cat called

Two by Four

for the planks he pawed

for the planks he stamped

with his paw print          cigar print:

catnip ash          clawed-up mast.


The cat and I and the boat we stole—

we always fled when the full moon foaled


I Slept in a Maze-Pacing Boat” previously appeared in the chapbook Dream-Clung, Gone, from Brooklyn Arts Press.

Lauren Russell’s first full-length book, What’s Hanging on the Hush, will be out from Ahsahta Press in 2017. She is the author of the chapbook Dream-Clung, Gone (Brooklyn Arts Press), and her poems have appeared in Better, boundary 2, Eleven Eleven, jubilat, PingPong, and Tarpaulin Sky, among others. Her reviews may be found in Aster(ix), The Volta, Jacket2, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and was named the 2016 VIDA Fellow to the Home School Miami.