Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected a poem by Amy Lawless for for the latest in a monthly series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.

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Arthur Rothstein, “Liberal, Kansas. Soil blown by dust bowl winds piled up in large drifts on a farm” (1936) (image via Library of Congress)

What Year Are You Interested In?

I mean you’re not from the
unless you are. Are you?
It’s so hard to care
about anything unless one is in the shit.
I’m in the shit.

It’s impossible for me to write a poem
unless I can wrap my entire chest—
both tits—         in my sadness

D cups.

It’s impossible for me to get out of bed
without a deep pressure.
I feel shame in not doing.

I want to tell you a story about survival.
Once we had a huge fight.

I left Bennigan’s while he was in the bathroom
because fuck him, right?

And I was almost to the corner
(I knew he didn’t have even five dollars to pay his tab—
much less the $1.25 to get on the subway home.)
and out of nowhere
I heard three steps
and he pushed me to the ground
like we were in a football game.
And I looked at him
and knew I had to leave him.
He was a dog who pushed a woman to the ground.
He would tell you (citing philosophers
and psychologists) that it was not the act,
but he was trapped, it was “situational.”

He’d say he was heh heh the Bernie Goetz
of spousal abuse.

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Amy Lawless

Amy Lawless is the author of two books of poems, most recently My Dead (Octopus Books, 2013). She was a 2011 New York for the Foundation Arts poetry fellow. More information and work can be found...

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