Two Poems by Natalie Eilbert


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Well I’m in my thirtieth year and I have plunged the scroll inside me
and let it honey my walls with golden import. I’ve bloated under the weight
of my feckless comrades, yanked the rods of my torture into communion,
forked hair into my studious mouth, and spread apart my country to show you
my survival. Because of all your detestable idols, I am a certified daughter
of man, I dryhump the mounds of my nations until I can taste the charcoal
of my rations. The sun has baked the bones of men and Lord how can I repay
you for sparing my kind except I will not spare you. Well I am that desolate waste
you bat your lashes against, I am the sword by which you’ve checked your lips
for smudges, I am the vinegar of your latest cleanse, the vile images of technology
announcing the kombucha seige. Wouldn’t you know it, my gold flickers
with a level of decadence that only a cock could spoil, and a cock does spoil me,
I go limp in its arms, I hold myself upright and unclean as the bones of men
bake outside. You’ve never seen what hunger does to eagerness, the excellence
scraping refusal into an empire. In a cloud of cigarettes I told you the false
direction of dystopia—that is, what we describe is part of the machinations
of a utopia, and there is nothing but priestly landscapes in the nothing planes
of what we’ve done. Did you see the sexy way I kissed the chain, did you see
my northern entrance and how I dug a hole in the wall to eat my forgiveness,
the hard twang of your weapon hot on my throat. That day I flared with inner court,
I was all portico in the gloaming, I wiped my brow with an oilcloth and vowed
to not look on the baking bones of men with pity or anger. There is something so
bronze about my outlook these days, the way I bunch up the linen to fuck
its distinguished corners. What else can I defile, I say as I wipe my chin against my elders.
I have done as you’ve commanded, I’ve forsaken the men who made us to be
worshipped on altars, I’ve unclenched the word of my Lord and let their bantams
trickle down my leg, I’ve rented the brownstone to hoard the unclean oxygen
and I’ve brushed the baking bones of men with schmaltz and issued a warning
declaring us better. What I know of tenderness is what I know of violation,
the restless insect of touch and our end. That is what you’re saying, I must
map a border so we can be the meat in it but I have instead become the editorial
director of prophecy, pulled out the Lord’s curls and tied their tufts to the highest
fencepost. I’ve produced a popular reality show called How Weak Is Your Moral
Constitution and I’ve folded a net over my pursuers to force out apology each episode.
There will be no delay. The days go by and every vision comes to nothing.
Down the street I am the favored daughter because my fulfillment requires
no power and no snares. I am the stuff of my idols, they cannot know what it meant
to lean me over the chair and be so desolate they named the township after my shape.


What you propose to do is good. All day I picked satire from my teeth
and with my mind I witnessed the banks of my body pushing us up.
I let the Camel butts float in the river, plucked the white hairs from
my scalp, and ignored my father’s calls. I fluffed my second death.
So I took the leading men, wise and respected men, and appointed
them to have authority over you. Long Island is trending today. There
is a town called Dix Hills and at night I was brought there on the banks
of my body pushing us up. You shall not enter it either. May the sons
enter the land. There was no traffic. The sons entered the land for they
did not know good from bad. When I looked to the moon, he gripped
inside my mouth and pulled out a silver globe. My skin spilled into yolk
in the time it took me to lose my lord. My anxiety was a swarm of bees
that could only lift the banks of my body, pushing us up. At that time we
took all his towns and completely destroyed them. Bro I was bawling
in the brewskie foam seas. I said stop the way I hold my back up, the way
I know it will hold me even as I buckle. Bones formed around words
and I whittled the hills into many selfies. I ducklipped like fuck
to display the purity of my saliva. I have taught you decrees as the lord
my god commanded me but my wet socks disgust me. I bend over
Dix Hills, I call it my nation, I crush black tablets under my heel
as they light. You will perish from the land you are crossing the river
to possess, I whisper green-eyed into the ears of my dudes. They toss
me over their shoulders because they were afraid of fire and did not go
up to the mountain. I did. I chewed its bark and sexted under the stars
but my dudes are innocent they practice throwing me into sedans and
shutting the door before I can bark. They remark on my lightness before
driving us away. These are the other commandments, I proclaimed them
under my thinness away from the noise, my thighs rang out in the quake
of the engine, the lord slipped through the tartar and plaque of my mouth.
I spit them out on the doorframes of houses, shiny, calm, in love after all.

These poems appear in The Lifted Brow #30. Get your print copy here, or get the digital edition here.

Natalie Eilbert is the author of the debut poetry collection, Swan Feast (Bloof Books, 2015). She is also the author of two chapbooks, Conversation with the Stone Wife (Bloof Books, 2014) and And I Shall Again Be Virtuous (Big Lucks Books, 2014). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Poem-a-Day, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.