Poetry: Selections from Shae Krispinsky

Pagan Prayers

I am not one of those girls who had a
crush on Christ, never traced his
abdominal cuts on the crucifix
with my eyes or fingers. I focused
in on the trees, the trees
evil tempters rising and luring
me away from God and his
glory. My soulmate
is an American linden
but in my fantasies
I cheat with a white oak
standing proud at the base
of a sloping Virginian valley.
It’s before this image I genuflect:
a crown of leaves, a rood of limbs.
I am an acolyte of the forest.

Bastard Sons
For Frank Stanford

The bastard sons will grow up and fall in love with other men’s wives
drinking them divine in dirty dives, floors sticky with beers
spilled in brawls, cigarette smoke a curtain dividing the truth
from the lies when asked where they were last night. They have no boots
to put beneath anyone’s bed, which surely makes them better—no, different—
than their fathers. Mothers will weep for the women who remind them
too much of themselves, their lost lives, dreams deflected, deflated
balloons that one more breath could break. Though they don’t condone
they can’t disown these sons. Were they not their own they would
want them. Apples fall from trees for mothers know sugar
could never taste so sweet. The cycle itself is complicit. Good women
always want the bad men, an unavoidable equation. They know better,
yet they too know what they want. Desire destroys by demanding
its existence. The cycle is eternal. Who would name their child purity and then push
them out into the world? Who wouldn’t?

Upstairs at the Castle

In truth, I recoil
at touch. To move our bodies
together in time, give me space,
pulsing light, a beat
so deep I can forget
the name of God. This is
my prayer: four on the floor
from a distorted 808, a guttural
moaning in German or another language
similarly indecipherable to my monolingual
American ears. When the music
is loud enough and lights strobing
and the scent of incense and smoke,
sweat, perfume, and gin, the scent
of skin and abandon, the overwhelm
crescendos, the bottom falls out.
I exist, obliterated, sound
waves, love waves, you wave,
wanting to leave. Go, go.
I’m already gone.

Little Birds

You wouldn’t have recognized that girl,
kitten heels clacking against the sidewalk,
chin up, fearless, burning with a secret pleasure,
a little licking coil. This must be how you feel
every day, shrouded in sex, but I wear
different clothes—I want to be seen, not
experienced, a tableau of girl, the lipstick
always red. You would see right through me: country girl
playing dress-up in the smallest of cities, more trains
than skyscrapers, more creeks than cement. I can’t
see you in this city, the city I think of as my
city, the first place I felt home. But you would have
liked me there. Prurient, impudent. No one
knew, which made the secret burn more brightly,
a lamp between my legs, the book
in my lap. I sat on a park bench. I held the book
up, I read, I watched, I waited for a response.
None came. I was twenty-one and happier than I’d been
in a while. I was, finally, ready to live, or at least try. I was
thin, bad skin, good smile, crooked tooth. I spent time
trying to look effortlessly striking, my life all
photographs waiting to be taken. No one stopped
and asked what I was reading. No one noticed. I was
too sly, a statue in sunlight.
I didn’t know the words I read. I had not lived
that kind of life. I never would. As messy as
my mind is, I like to keep the rest of me neat,
hermetically sealed, a Ziplock baggie of vanilla
pudding. I tried to appear otherwise, each morning
before dressing, I would stop and ask who I
wanted to be that day. Flouncy black skirt hung
below hipbones, bohemian red shawl. Magda.
Magda would read Anaïs Nin in public. She would
dance barefoot in the rain, tear through lovers
like spiderwebs, her laughter like shiny pennies
clattering on the train tracks. She belonged not in
the mountains. She could have been Nin’s rival, except
Nin had written the book and Magda merely read it.
What is more powerful than creating a self? Myriad
selves, choosing who comes out to play. My authority
was passive, benign. I ran more than I ruled; I read
more than I ran. Men in their business suits passing
on their way back from lunch. What do they see?
Too-thin girl, wrists ready for wresting, accused of
being pretentious more times than she can log.
You are not her audience. She plays
a part not meant for you. An artist would see through
her, the performance, the book, the façade, the trope. You
would know her references, would catch the shift
from I to she—you do it, too. We are
the beautiful ones, darling, we never
need to apologize.

Vaguebooking My Emotional State

It’s not the swagger but the silence, a confidence
palpable, ineluctable. Everyone is weird here, or young,
or rich, but not you.
I can smell the memory of you for blocks. Bergamot
and cigarettes smoke, a top note of whiskey. What does
it say about you that you only drink the smoother stuff?
You’d say: stop reading into everything so much. But
I read into you, I read into you, even if I’d rather not.
There’s a hint of Memphis when you speak, despite
your roots being pure Pacific Northwest. Anything
becomes malleable in time.
All that I want: freedom from desire.
I’m cursed. I crave it. You want
to be miserable, you tell me. No,
I want to be free. But what is the weight
of faith and why am I flying?
No end except the end and I
don’t know how to get there except by
being—and stopping—here.

Shae Krispinsky lives in Tampa, FL, where she fronts the band, Navin Avenue, whose sound she describes as Southern Gothic 70s-arena indie rock with a pop Americana twist. Her fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Connotation Press, Thought Catalog, The Dillydoun Review, Vending Machine Press, Sybil Journal among others. She is currently working on her band's second album and a novel.