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Three Poems by Gina Keicher | Word Riot

March 15, 2015      

Three Poems by Gina Keicher

Listen to a reading of “Date Night in Revenge Narrative” by Gina Keicher.

Date Night in Revenge Narrative

Dear Francis, Sometimes there is a megamall
with a food court. Instead of wilting
into the table when she sees him
she sees herself pushing past the arcade
and mini-golf, formerly a Hooters where he took her
on a double date. She thinks getting out of here
today is enough, its own tiny victory.
With enough tiny victories anyone can
fashion a wrestling belt. Some air, some
other home. Years that stretch, not long or far
away enough. I turn down the volume on the radio
when I hear some songs. I drop my rage down
a sinkhole and hope it can’t crawl back out.
Impossible to abandon the body. This stretch
does not get quiet or clear. I know how I look
when I cry. Like a chimp who drank too much
Tang and got a bad sunburn at Rehoboth Beach.
We eat food court lunch. If you won’t finish that bag
of cinnamon twists, let me. My knuckles dig
into the green metal chair. The carousel moves
and birds fly across the food court. It’s not clear
how the birds feel at night, perched on horses
holding prance pose, horses who aren’t singing
or moving but their mouths are open to the dark.
Some birds fly into the mall and get stuck inside
and decide to stay. Some birds are born in the mall.

Listen to a reading of “You Almost Have a Body” by Gina Keicher.

You Almost Have a Body

Dear Francis, I don’t want to disturb you
but I wrote a poem about the home
and in my poem about the home
everyone is dead.
They made themselves that way.
I’m tired of here. City of torn up
downtown like a prehistoric
landscape. City of exact change
required to ride the bus
with pink lights in the ceiling.
Exact change feels like you have won
something when you haven’t.
Family comes home from hospitals.
Quelle surprise, they’re alive.
The flap on the prize crane
in the lobby is jammed.
How will I claim my blue dolphin?
How will I reach in and steal a T-rex?
We wreck homes before they wreck us.
Keep a bag packed, your shoes tied.
They take away your laces. They take
away the drawstring in your pajama pants.
Wear flats, wear slip-ons.
Do not wear pants.
We make our own mythology
and say we are shrouded in the stuff,
gauzy and unclear
like bored women in magazines,
the word ETHEREAL
floating over their styled heads.
We solve a puzzle. Play a board game.
I choose the little dog to click
around the Boardwalk, Park Place.
We pretend we are in Paris: eat
cookies and drink wine and don’t
remember ever being that sad.
If you think it’s hard to be alive,
remind yourself all you have
to do is be here. All you have to do
is think of the dinosaurs.
I don’t know how to use sidewalks
with all these balloons in the way.
Each grief poem I write begins:
you are made of onion skin,
loose round paper
falling to the floor,
like garments or water.
The dress by the river
in Black River Falls—Here
I go. No one go with me.

Your voice so clear
you almost have a body.
You are made of pearls.
I think of you and someone
walks by and the walking tears you
from my neck and you break
all over the sidewalk.
I used to go crawling through mulch
and shrubs, empty lots, grabbing up
each pearl to restring the necklace
while I watch Jurassic Park at home.
Where are my pearls.
Where is my fancy. I buy
all the black dresses. I don’t
want to sit down for this news.
A deep-sea diver collects round
pieces from flat oyster mouths.
Jewelry should say something
about how we really are,
like the quotes we choose
to caption photos on the internet.
When I get like this I can find echoes
in a bath mat these shallow hours
I spend swimming the tub
one end to the other,
asking whether I want
to be a mermaid or a captain,
asking why I have to choose
just one. I choose the only beauty
I can. This split nail
smeared in grey lacquer,
bandaged and clean.
Like choosing life means
you have to choose extinction.
Which reminds me:
I choose beauty. I choose
both. And life will find a way.

Listen to a reading of “Date Night Climbing” by Gina Keicher.

Date Night Climbing

Dear Francis, It would be cool to be a ghost.
Tongue like a ribbon tied onto a box fan,
making that ghost sound only dogs can hear.
In the movie Old Yeller… Do I have to say it?
The place the dog goes in her dreams
is not paradise. It would be cool to be a ghost
but not be dead so we could know
how people feel about our ghost selves.
So we could get feedback
on our absent presence. The turning
shoulder, some other woman
dancing in the mirror to a new burn
of an old mix. It would be chic
to wear a bed sheet, ghost furs, a long piece
of pink and blue ribbon candy for a tongue.
Making the dog’s ear ache like the fire engine
that begins low and climbs inside
the windows on each building in the city.
Dear frequency. Dear pressure
leaving our ears as we come down
the steep hill. We are safe and dead
tired. At last. Generations of sadness saw this
coming on the television. Heard us
crying on the radio. I climb inside
your monster mouth and my body falls back
on the tongue, falls back and reclines
comfortably on the jaw. I tried climbing
into the radio. My arms got tangled in static.
I missed four calls while I was tangled. That’s a lot
of calls to miss. Your ghost tongue knows
your teeth will be your tombstones
when the diving cops can’t find you
under the water and the psychic stands
beside the river and says you’re sixty feet down.
Have you tried climbing into a radio
or up a tree without shoes on? I kick
bare feet toward any green, warm safety.
Black dials on a radio face, smooth
plastic turning beneath my fingers.
Any soft, strange hum from another room.

ginakeicherauthorphotoAbout the author:

Gina Keicher is the author of Wilderness Champion (Gold Wake Press, 2014) and the chapbook Here is My Adventure I Call it Alone (Dancing Girl Press, 2015). She is an associate editor for Black Lawrence Press. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Ampersand Review, Big Lucks, Birdfeast, elsewhere, inter|rupture, and Whiskey Island. She lives in Ithaca, New York. Visit her online at

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