Two Poems by Kendra DeColo

Love Letter with The Beatles, Lana Del Ray, and Julio Cortázar

I feel most like a mother
at the coffee shop drinking decaf
and eating a Costco-brand
granola bar discreetly
wishing it had a different name 
or something with Chia Seeds exuding
a nonchalant kind of wealth
when someone slides Rubber Soul
on the record player and I stop
what I’m doing because it’s holy
to give this album your attention
Have you ever wanted to be so rich
your uterus is glitzed as a luxury apartment
lips Lana Del Ray swollen
lifting every song from the ether of glamour
and grief bee-stung
with a hunger that keeps us honest
so that we’re bursting
with it sometimes the hydraulics
of ghosts jacked up on perverse longing?
The first song plays like a cigarette marquee
blinking subliminal commands
and I feel most like a mother
when I’m disappointed no one else
appears moved as if they’ve wrestled
their demons at 4 am
a dervish of fast food wrappers
and tax returns
spilling from the back of a garbage truck
swishing through pre-dawn
streets  as when I would nurse my daughter
and a bloom of lochia unfurled
its salamander heart
beneath us
The record skips
like the synapse of recognition
when I first spotted you
across a field the feeling that says
I would explode right now
if I lingered too long
on the thought of you
I read a thought-piece on Lana Del Ray
tits thrumming with urgency
waiting to be pumped and wonder 
if selling oneself is a kind of authenticity
or if ambition makes you less
honest I mean attractive
lord I am so tired 
Most like a mother cataloging
stints of grief the singe and hiss
of a record making contact
like the wheels of a car
doing donuts in a parking lot
remembering the smell
of summer and rubber burning
my tits full of ash
Pompei tits Burning Man tits
just graduated and touring Europe
tits my tits are not flashy
but comfortable living just within their means
happily married and paying taxes
on time tits sometimes unwashed
sometimes restless and wanting
to masturbate with no where to go
most like a mother when orgasms
are ashy apparitions my body
a phonograph leaking combustible notes
most like a mother wandering the aisles
of Costco the apples unholy and apoplectic
with polish whose skins
wince as I walk by tingling smugly
in the vegetable locker
like a morgue of refrigerated air
Most like a mother shaving my legs
in the bathroom at Wendy’s
or not brushing my teeth most like a mother
on the playground
making small talk with other mothers and feeling
worn out and hollowed
among the rows of expensive strollers my inner tape deck ticking
I want to be rich I want to be rich I want to be rich
to win the contest of most motherly
fuck mothers fuck target fuck
listservs fuck nanny shares
fuck blogs fuck Ivanka fuck registries
fuck mother industrial complex
fuck Scary Mommy fuck permission
to eat frozen pizza alone and cry
If I hadn’t met you
I’d probably be in an open “relationship”
with someone who wears a man bun
and says things at 38 like
I want children just not right away
who plays in a band and lets me pay his rent
who asks for ferret support
a year after we break up
I feel most like a mother
when I think of how lucky we are
and still resent
everything about you
Most like a mother
wanting to hide my big ass and thighs
wanting to celebrate my big ass and thighs
feeling its an accomplishment
to go out in public and let myself
be seen most like a mother
when the young barista spills my drink
and calls me ma’am
and doesn’t look at me
Most like a mother
shapeless in the bruised light
drenched in the pre-echo of another song
about to play wanting to steal every line
our daughter says and put it in this poem
“emphatic yogurt” and “the fox is holding
the moon”
I’m saying I love 
the soft reception of your body
how the night she was born
you paced the room
singing Wreckless Eric
I’d go the whole wide world
I’d go the whole wide world
the dimmed fluorescence
of our singular heart
clanging more more more
How it rained
so hard one night in April
driving home from a cafe in Queens
where we’d eaten sweet tamales
I thought we might drown
but we didn’t and I want to say
that was the night she was conceived
I want to say
Everything I’d want from you
is finally so little
because finally it’s everything
Husk and sugar
an apartment filled with music
hiss of damp clothes
drying on the radiator,
a prayer made with a record’s broken needle
to become beaming
and undone

I Don’t Think Neruda was Thinking of my Tampon
when he wrote
“Body of a Woman”
how it bloats and swells
with urine every time I pee
or the diva cup I consider buying
in the health food store while
Paganini’s First Concerto for Violin
pierces through my ear buds
with arpeggios I first heard
on the car radio when I was 17
and the music inked into me
its gauzy ambition
I choose Size Two
“for women over thirty who’ve given birth”
which is a polite way
of saying LOOSE 
but tonight I’m feeling romantic
thoughtfully tearing
into a package
of cherry pie
in my parked Subaru
and imagine what it might
feel like to be rendered
under the glow
of the Citgo sign 
which is so much like the moon
I can’t tell the difference
There was the lover
who said my body was  
as good as Drew Barrymore’s
another who said I was better
looking naked than he predicted 
and another who said
I looked like a child
and prostitute combined
and the one who hissed
I was so beautiful
it made him want to hurt me
Is this what you meant, Neruda   
when you wrote you stretch out
like the world
the jetty of curls
that thickens with blood
on the last day of my period
Did you mean
the shimmer and molt
the near-death stink
of a movie theater’s
overflowing dark as the credits
unfurl and entrails
of crushed candy
scribble over the plush carpet
or a banquet hall flashing
with half-filled BINGO cards
or the IHOP sign off Storrow Drive
like a church marquee
announcing I’m almost home
Did you mean rows
of Slim Jims
gleaming in their packages
of synthetic skin
a beard of neon dust
sprawling across my chin
hunched in the dark
of a gas station bathroom
where the attendant
keeps vanilla scented air freshener
plugged into the wall
could you have imagined me
pulling a cup of blood
from my body and if so
was there a word you felt
and was it envy

Photo Credit: “Gothenburg – ‘Stand Still’ by Alina Vergnano” by Andrzej Otrębski is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

About the author

Kendra DeColo is the author of I am Not Trying to Hide My Hungers from the World (BOA, 2021), My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (Third Man Books, 2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (Saturnalia Books, 2014), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House Magazine, Waxwing, Los Angeles Review, Bitch Magazine, VIDA, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2019 Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and has received awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Millay Colony, Split this Rock, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is co-host of the podcast RE/VERB: A Third Man Books Production and she lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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