Be A Dead Girl by Krystal Languell
Argos Books, 2014
Yeah, I’m sitting here on Washington Ave with this yogurt & this cappuccino. And, yeah, I put the Ativan in my ugly floral backpack *just in case* / Whatever it’s Friday. It’s been a long week. I’ve been a woman again. Here with all my feelings.
“This is as soft core as it gets” Krystal Languell writes in “Romeo + Juliet Poem.” A poem full of glitter & champagne & bourbon & Nick Cave & “if my coping mechanism doesn’t work for you / shut up.” Krystal doesn’t mess around here. From the start of this chapbook, the lines are witty without being pretentious. I mean the confetti doesn’t cloud the meaning but marks it “as significant in case anyone missed the cues.”
This is only the first poem. Languell is warming (us) up for the ride. These poems drive stick shift. I mean they multi-task. (I’m not talking in the phallic. That would be missing the point.) They are smart & charged. The words push us because of the strength behind them.
This is why I love chapbooks. They feel more formed than full-lengths, right. Maybe I mean they are fast & say what they mean. Probably this is because they are shorter. We don’t have to do any of the work. We don’t have to give up our day. But still I walk around with Languell on repeat, on loop. I watch my interactions throughout the day / I know how “Domesticity kills.”
Nah, I haven’t opened the yogurt yet. I wait until my body screams for it. Reading this chapbook again, I wonder why I felt the need to return / The need to write something down. Could it be as selfish as I see myself in these poems.
Hey there, why do you read poetry.
OK: I poured the granola over the yogurt.
OK: I don’t know how to write a proper review.
Am I a dead girl.
What is a dead girl living.
Am I a walking death because of the body I own or owns me or—
“I get the tab because I live in a city”
Like, why does this fill my body the way it does. Languell is writing poetry without writing a poem. How do I say this is a poem because she means it, not because it looks like one.
“The little old ladies who outlive the friends survive / on having retired all fear” And here we are returning, walking in circles because we never really go anywhere. Drink more coffee, wake up again tomorrow (we hope). Routine, routine, routine.
Languell writes experience & manages to balance the un-satisfaction with lines like “Your tabula rasa my panacea. Get down on it.”
What’s our problem.
My gender pronoun says something about me, but I didn’t ask for the explanation. You handed it over & rubbed the mercury over my eyes. I couldn’t see for some time.
“Look at what a mess I made of trying to be good.”
Whisper: She’s talking about me, isn’t she.
I mean, I’m interrupted by texts from a future that can’t begin. I’m trying to be healthy. Chose the yogurt over the donut, but I’m not 100% that Krystal would approve of that definition of “good.” Nothing I do with good intentions turns out to be right. And here we are, stuck inside the norms.
These poems are political. These poems are personal. I mean I feel them. I don’t know how else to read. I mean I long for a home that doesn’t exist. At her apartment we decide everyone moved here to escape anyway. We are homeless or runaways or aware of this privilege to exist in this way or—
“Nice how home remains useful for healing wounds. / Take the busy schedule to the clinic with the other symptoms. / Memorize a song about getting out for when you’re / caught up in the myth about living right.”
OK: I’ve made up my mind. I want Krystal to by my life planner. Hire her to speak through me when they put me in uncomfortable (& wrong) situations. I channel her on the phone call, stand up for myself. I channel a she the way she should be. It’s not a performance.
Languell delivers her bitch slaps with a laugh. Owns it. “Adults have relationships / nice work”
Languell’s intelligence & thought stand up straight in her fuck-off boots, but she’s not kicking. She’s shrugging because she doesn’t care if you get it. If you don’t get it, she’s not talking to you. “Holes are / abstract pleasures if you didn’t know / they give direction to feeling”
Direct me out the door. Direct me to the source of my life.
I’m writing this to say you should probably read this chapbook. Like, now. I’m writing this to say “A lot of shit will never happen” like me being able to talk like an intellectual about poetry. All I know is how to feel it. Languell speaks for me. I really don’t have to say much at all.
“Go ahead, be a dead girl. C’est normal.”