Emily Skaja/ Number 92
I tried everything once. It was the brute force method.
For my trouble, I was kicked out of the Republic
with the other liars. I was too powerful; I intimidated Plato.
In Indiana, I walked for 40 days—I stayed polite, I dirged
with appropriate pomp. On the highway, I couldn’t get warm.
I burned sage & gave beautiful breakup speeches
to people who had broken up with me first. Yes, I was wounded.
I found I had strung my life between two bad men.
Helpfully, a billboard on I-65 read HELL IS REAL.
Carly Simon was like, Yeah, he probably thinks these poems are about him.
There was a fear that I would tell the story in a way that might
unnecessarily tell someone about himself.
No one ever promised or implied that love would be
reciprocated: let’s make that clear. I signed a contract
agreeing that I would not hold anyone accountable
for stealing my youth, for sending me into early cronehood.
Signature family recipes were to be withheld in talks.
Meanwhile, I turned 30. I sent a text that said
Please stop colonizing all of our mutual friends with your dick.
Cattle bones lined the trail of the dead. For five years I was fevered.
I couldn’t explain how I had layered the wood on the fire.
Emily Skaja is the Associate Poetry Editor of Southern Indiana Review. Her poems have been published in Best New Poets, Blackbird, FIELD, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, and other journals. Emily was the winner of the Russell Prize for emerging poets, the 2015 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, an Academy of American Poets College Prize, and an AWP Intro Award. She lives in Ohio, where she is working toward a PhD in Poetry at the University of Cincinnati.Image by Matt Duncan