Poem: Alina Pleskova

Illo for Alina Pleskova's poem.


first 48 hours post-landing are
the sweet spot: part-troposphere,

brain a bundle of unguarded nerves,
generous to every rush of perception

swayed by how locals say That’s alright,
hand wave putting kindness back into the air

instead of You’re welcome, as in
a transfer of something owed

after two carafes of wine, burrow back
into someone else’s word-hovel

all hangover, all hummingbird-hearted,
a bundle of sensitivities

Ariana Reines says
It’s dangerous to have feelings when you don’t have any money

but corporate’s got this
so I’m selling out

so I’m crying in the battery-powered
candlelight of this overpriced brasserie

♢ ♢ ♢

one day per time zone is the accepted
recovery rate for jet lag

maybe this applies to other bodily phenomena
like vulnerability, wherever that gets made

Hacking body with light could speed jet lag recovery
explains the Internet

I’m a feelings hack;
it wasn’t always this way

I used to trust them, whatever
they were in the moment, to lead

♢ ♢ ♢

to fall in love w/ anyone
all you need to do is answer

36 questions, says the Times
hey, I was wondering—

Do you have a secret
hunch about how you will die?

♢ ♢ ♢

It took an acid trip to dredge
my first love epiphany to surface

Allie said, What are you afraid of?
while I shook in the pitch-dark woods

Being so certain

♢ ♢ ♢

the Brits are indiscriminate w/ terms of endearment
despite their low thresholds for sentimentality

darling, dearie,
love, love, love

the bus driver,
the deli cashier,
the receptionist

I mean yea, it’s just
a word

but when I think of your face,
the word becomes mist

when I tell myself to think on that, the thought ricochets
so I shut the light off

♢ ♢ ♢

today, the giant bruise on the back of my arm
tinges brown-blue

I’ve stopped romanticizing bruises as mood indicators
since they all heal basically the same

this is surely a sign of maturity

hang my one decent blazer
to unwrinkle while I shower

think of baking out hotel bathrooms w/ the one I left
& our willful roach burns

somewhere a cloud swelling from
his drawn-out messages

I would’ve done it just the same without them
is what I’d say if I ever wanted it again

♢ ♢ ♢

swish past cows, wildflower fields,
towns w/ fairytale names

businessman’s intermittent throat clearing
even pleasant

futile spy w/ my black trench, flip notebook
full of obvious things:

longing, Appleford, yellow flowers,
distance as a safety catch

want to keep riding this train into oblivion
head suddenly absent of the usual static

intrusions like existential dread or blanket panic or deadlines
do exist, are presently unknown

warmed in my favorite scarf & thinking of
the Lewis Warsh poem I read to your voicemail

because it had the lines

Denying something, I sometimes
think, is the same as admitting
it. I admit you into my thoughts
without even trying.

& I do, & now it’s time
to disembark

♢ ♢ ♢

thought I’d chainsmoke around the clock here
but am never relaxed enough,

upright in the open office, watching trees whip around
waiting for the poem to stop before I’m found out

or wedged between two chemists
on the train, talking molecules

while I glare into the book Emma lent me
People who are harder to love pose a challenge,
and the challenge makes them easier to love

slump into the seat, tune back
to the chemists & their compounds

but the book goes on
People who want their love easy don’t really want love

♢ ♢ ♢

made it this far
without mentioning the rain

here it is
it’s perfect

just as relentless as movies & that
Magnetic Fields song have us believe

I carry an umbrella but never use it,
head wrapped like a babushka instead

another way, in my ever-expanding list of ways
to feel less American

which is to say, elegant in the face of
my boorishness

at least my reflection
looks Russian, I think,

then call my mother & see how long I can
go w/o English interludes

but I forget the word for restless,
though she’s been saying it

my whole life long
Alina Pleskova lives in Philly & strives to maintain optimum chill. She is coeditor of bedfellows, a literary magazine focused on narratives of sex/desire/intimacy, & cohost of Poetry Jawns, a podcast. Recent work can be found in littletell, Public Pool, and By the Slice, an anthology published by Spooky Girlfriend Press. Her internet double is here.

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