Three poems by Sara Youngblood Gregory
you say my name
The only time you say my name
is when you are furious the hard
s is hot oil and smoke you push me
in the shopping cart at the end of the world
the shelves are empty you tell me accountability
is a deal breaker. The cheap metal shoves my shoulder
blades you tell me to stop being a brat
it stopped being cute last march.
The center of my 20s is housing instability
or maybe watching the world pandemic
& is it worth saying
our first memory was 9/11?
the second is a cold swimming pool.
Now you just sound like my father he kicked me out
two months after we met and exploded
you push me towards apocalypse with that word: accountability.
What am i supposed to do with a word i’ve never felt?
the shelves are empty and we’re behind the glass
everyone in this central florida town
they run around us because there is no water
but so much candy.
ten days before i am disowned my head spins three days after i am disowned (my mother
on the phone screaming i am sick) i am sick & the world (sick) starts to spin
again, but faster again, but full time
it’s the crystals in my ears it was the roadtrip the mountains the badlands the arizona desert that goddamn fire that plane to new york the altitudes or all three fill up ear canals full
of fluid the ocean & mother’s wet, young blood (how dare you write that) straight to my brain & suffocate
crystals in my head decide when earth is flat when we (you, me, mother, think how this affects
us) walk straight crystal four & final is gravity like a compass the only one not in
my head spins til i am sick sick all over some dress and frills i sink to the surface grasp, puke, rip off lace (all you ever do is run away)
* Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is one of the most common causes of vertigo. BPPV is a result of tiny crystals in your inner ear being out of place. The crystals make you sensitive to gravity and help you to keep your balance.. When they are out of place, the crystals make you sensitive to movement and position changes that normally don’t affect you, sparking vertigo. --Mayo Clinic.
drop the bomb or help me means the same thing to the fbi
my body is so wrecked with pain i walk like i’m 80
and arthritis is having a party
mom is out out dancing and cuz no one retires anymore
i head into work home office
creaking type type typing
garbage language into a garbage screen
let me lay my chest on your computer
getting messages like
baby i’ll see you at lunch
keep me clacking keep me from cracking
i get slack messages from HR saying im paranoid
i’m paranoid wrecked with pandemic.
When was the last time i said no?
no into her pillow. no into his hand.
no to overtime?
my tongue and clack clack fingers and garbage wreck body
get sore from saying my own name: no no no
the fbi is tracking everything i do when i clack
most of which is to write garbage
which if translated to morse code is
/ drop the bomb or
help me /
which to the fbi means the same thing
paranoia that’s fine pandemic is fine
as long as you’re pretty
pain is starting to make me gaunt
in the way that looks like i’ve seen sunshine
but not felt it in years and years,
maybe since i was 21
what is left behind
i’m huffing petrichor and power lines in the bathroom
huffing whippets on weekends and setting serotonin on fire
this wednesday I am on fire
*this poem references linette reeman’s “The FBI Uses My Pronouns Correctly When They Search My Apartment For Evidence”
Sara Youngblood Gregory is a lesbian poet and culture writer. She serves on the board of directors for the lesbian literary and arts journal Sinister Wisdom. Her work has been published or forthcoming in The Rumpus, Tahoma Literary Review, Queen Mobs, and The Adroit Journal.