days in a week

pristine immunity
was never a truth,
but there is a point to
the simplest things.

apples, little globes
of water contained
with a charge so subtle
we can barely hear it.

with every itch, every
prick at the folds of
our skin, drying through
another nebulous day.

it’s the shock of it,
cold as swing set steel
that prompts us to sketch
stick figures ever lost.

we wrap ourselves up
and wear bubble wrap
masks, and cut into our
palest, stained jeans.

blue bodies and white
exhalations reveal our
struggle, knowing no one
alleged to cry “wolf.”

we wait, breathing in
the rubber cement, its
pungent, hard denial toying
with life’s unsure lips.

Pre-Order Connie Undone!

Would you like me to write you a poem based on a topic of your choice? I’ve received a handful of some pretty interesting requests, and I’d love to see more of what you have to suggest!

While CONNIE UNDONE’s official release date is March 1st, you can pre-order a copy from me directly, for $12. Not only do you get a signed copy of my first novel, but you also get a poem.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering, send me an email at crumpledpapercranes1981@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

– Kristine

Frenzied Diaspora

the roots have been severed
as dirt hits my face.
gravel that flies in anyone’s path
when pedestrian anticipation
and the calm of linens in a miniature loft
do leave us forgetting
that perhaps it’s a deed
of passion’s authenticity.
an apple core blanched
with an immunity to chemical change.

septuagenarian marriages
can and do exist
on bridges that laugh
at the pettiness of bottlenecked highways.

he loves her.

but all is pulled unbeknownst
to the woman in the beige trench coat.
a suitcase clasped, and papers brittle
with a squirming temptation
to throw up her hands,
and say, “I’m done.”

wander for love.
the things we see two blocks from home.
fingernails of soot, roots unbraided
and a scowl to the sky,
for April comes.

I shake my head and remember
that I actually carried pockets.
but never was I quite careful,
as to where I handled cash.

foreign marigolds lay.
legs and all, maimed in evening’s quiet.

Pre-order Connie Undone on Amazon. Or, buy a signed copy from me directly for $12. 

January 2016

I could not provide an answer,
nor could I gesticulate
as my veins curled similarly
to roundworms in cats’ rejection.

murmured the name of the medical scribe
but I stared at the doctor, pale
as the white coat I already sullied
with my lower middle class and ignorance.

flickering, the ceiling insulted the charity bed
that funds the frostbitten—frequent fliers
I could hear miles away,
for the morphine disappointed like decaf.

I wouldn’t return to work,
and that is what I wanted
but only in those hours
when I felt I did no good.

there was no pillow to clutch
and I had worn down all my brushes
used to glue together a quiet collage
of words in Helvetica you never meant.

I do not wish to taste
wet saltines of an awkward love
but I managed to sleep on thumbtacks
for a boy who had no time.

Pre-order Connie Undone on Amazon. Or, buy a signed copy from me directly for $12. 

hungry equality

consensus declares
that a lick from a dog
is worth far less
than a cat’s slow wink.

before the dog’s eyes,
you sit, blemishes
airbrushed through grain
and accepted, like undone ribbons
of VHS cassettes, their tops
glistening like cured resin on tile
one finds on tables yielding meat
that any girl may offer for trust.

eventually, you will admit
that this dog is just one
of the five that kissed your hand
and the few warming up to your meal.

it will tell you
in rhythmic nudges
that people are not interesting,
though that one Saturday
introductions played their tricks
as the dog continued to ask
how you could just walk
so ignorant of your depth.

you committed no wrong
as the dog moved quickly,
perhaps in a two-hour span
to yet another slice cooked medium rare.

Pre-order Connie Undone on Amazon. Or, buy a signed copy from me directly for $12. 

Dust Bunnies

A bouquet of dust bunnies in my head. Dirty, battered feet.

I didn’t want to leave this bed today, but I did, because I’m motivated by stupid, babyish things. Like that dress and sweater I cast aside last night, to wear today. With pantyhose three shades darker than my natural skin tone.

I grow paler everyday, and I think this gray tooth, it’s pretty much decaying. But that’s okay. Braces were something I wanted so badly, at thirteen years old. Nearing twenty-three, I realized any sensible person doesn’t care about how straight and flawless your teeth are.

I am that off-putting kid whose everyday happenings mirror that of a “Bad Luck Brian” meme. I don’t mean to, but when I just want to fulfill someone’s request to write a letter every once in a while, and only scare that person away, what’s the point of a pen pal?

If I were coordinated, and my parents cared to put me in dance lessons as soon as one possibly could, well, I would have left that showing of Black Swan thinking, “Woah, I can totally relate!” Just like every sad young girl who reads or watches something gripping and wants to somehow take a piece of that everywhere she goes. Primarily to job interviews.

I said I’d visit you back in September, but mid-month I decided not to. How in the hell do you start life anew?

The dust bunnies sit back, and drink their cognac and sing their songs. I grind my teeth at 3 AM, and rock myself back and forth. I almost hit the wall. The bunnies, the accidental boo boos, my abused molars. These are too real (well, maybe not the bunnies, but you never know).

But I do not need to be told, for the septillionth time, that they were birthed out of a scoffing towards God. It’s an unsolicited answer communicated so often that I wonder if it’s true.

And if those who so fervently relay the message get some sort of commission, amounts vary by circumstance.

Pre-order Connie Undone on Amazon. Or, buy a signed copy from me directly for $12. 

Insecure Dusk

“Hey! Do you work at Happy’s?”

My knees bounced, chin persistently pressed against my chest barely heaving. The purple visor concealed my blush, but the black cardigan was too iconic.

***

“You’re a natural beauty,” he said, as I snuck him the cup from McDonald’s that I filled with Dr. Pepper. He and his friend. James and Austin. This was two weeks prior. They spoke to me as my father would have drunk from a dirty glass, cursing a shortage of real alcohol. I’ve had few problems attracting men, though snaring genuine intrigue’s long been hard.

“My boss doesn’t think so,” I looked to my gravy-stained apron, placing my hands in pockets, handling cash though I was told this was “gross for a waitress to do.” The police officer had a word with the manager, who told him I was new to food service. “‘Stay in school’ is what you tell her, my friend. She won’t stand a chance anywhere else. There will always be a need for college professors.”

I retold the exchange to Julie and Lane, both of them shaking their heads, giving me a hug, announcing “I’d never marry someone if he did that on a date.” And many a ring we saw declined. Always after six in the early dusk. Eleven hours more. I walked, cleaned, squirted whipped cream, ladled ranch dressing, and told dirty jokes until five in the morning. Usually.

James and Austin strangely didn’t ask for chicken fried steak. Though James caressed my contaminated palms, asked me to sit down, and smiled as I made small talk about friends I knew who paid off their debts by pole dancing. The couple I served five feet away promptly rose, leaving me nothing.

“Say, the Smithson Motel just down the street’s open twenty-four hours. We’re staying there tonight. A business trip.” Austin was the one who never spoke.

“I’m here until five.” I remembered the teacher who waited for her salad at the bar. “What would we do anyway?”

“Eh, we were just gonna kick it with some chicks. Would be nice if you’d join us. Got some Malibu rum in a cooler. Let me write you the room on this receipt.”

“Sir, I’m afraid I can’t.” Howard slid a bowl of drenched lettuce down the aisle from the kitchen. I hurried to make my delivery. Then I returned to a Sharpie scrawl, dark as the sky I could see through the bullet hole lodged above the two young men in their loafing.

“Your number, here.” An arrow beneath, a line etched an ant’s worth from the bottom of the receipt. Reading men was always hard.

I blinked, trying to make up a number as I already fabricated a good twelve. I gave them a code, and James brought his phone to make the call. Just to make sure I knew how to reach him.

“I, please. Guys, I really can’t—”

“No worries! We’ll pick you up at five. The motel’s down the street.”

“I, look. Are you like this with every waitress?”

Jason crossed his arms, spread his legs to reveal his inner thighs stained with what I wanted to think was soy sauce or maple syrup. I didn’t inquire.

“Sweetie, you’re a special girl. An intelligent one. Not many girls just take a seat and talk to the patrons the way you do. It’s not that they’re snooty or anything. It’s just, they lack the capacity.”

“Excuse me?”

“Honey, what I mean to say is when we hook up with girls, we prefer them to be intelligent. Look, we didn’t buy dinner. But we’ll tip you well. I promise.”

“Give me a minute.”

I rarely blushed, and this time, blanched. My face with its dry patches, resembling a waxing moon, its craters void of life. My shortcomings often revolved around crafting a polite declination. It’s something I still can’t do.

I spoke to the manager who told me of the police offer’s dissatisfaction with my skills.

“Consuela, all men are dogs.”

“Of course,” I picked at a hangnail.

Josue looked on as the boss walked over to where James sipped from his not-from-Happy’s cup. Josue was aware of the jaunty exchange but washed our dishes to the mantra of equal opportunity. “Women, they’re not infants,” he’d say, pointing at me to reiterate that really, I should know better.

Austin glared without a word. Jason tipped his hat my way. “Don’t be so presumptuous,” he greasily cooed.

“Ah, no shame.” Josue patted my shoulder. “But look, they left you a tip!”

At their emptied booth laid the smeared request. And a dollar. His phone number crassly added, whining like a dog confined for retaliatory defecation.

“Don’t be insecure,” Josue pointed his lips. “Don’t be giving it away, just because a guy says you’re pretty.”

“I don’t.”

“But so many do, Consuela. Just the other night, some girl got raped by a man she ran into on the bus.” The waitstaff only called me Consuela as I resembled a character in some eighties movie. A mousy girl with academic promise, working in her father’s restaurant all through dusk, forsaking homework that was due the morning after.

“I’ve learned not to talk to men on the bus.”

“And so you used David as your reference to work here.” David, I met at a bus stop. His tip book convinced me to try waiting tables. Wipe away vomit, lie about life, pretend to be the girlfriend of a rich old man. Albeit in a fashion laughable.

Barely concealed by the purple hat, I glanced at James to see blackened scabs. An altercation, or crystal meth. I continued with my presumptions. He skimmed through the Classifieds, looking for work.

***

“No, I can’t say I work there.”

“Oh, okay. Just, you look familiar.” He looked out the window, into the fog of one a.m., when no cars passed. The bus driver called for me to get off, as I lugged my bag of newspapers. My second job when Happy’s gave me a break from long evenings.

I ran with all I had, from imaginary predators.

Connie Undone, my first novel, officially comes out on March 1st. But you can pre-order it on Amazon for $18.99. If you’d like a pre-ordered, signed copy, Venmo me at KristineBrown1918, and for a limited time, I’ll send you a paperback for $12, if you’re a U.S. resident. If you’re outside of the United States and would like a copy, let me know, and we’ll work something out. I’ve decided to challenge myself by writing a poem for the first 250 purchasers of Connie Undone. I’ll write the poem on the subject of your choice. Include the subject along with your mailing information if you are buying a copy from me. If you prefer to buy books on Amazon, just send me a screenshot as proof of purchase, and I’ll get started on your poem!