Gray Market By Krystal Languell

Gray Market, 2016
Krystal Languell 

1913 Press 

Purchase Here

“Encouraging obsession is a blunt force trauma” From the poem The courage of Excess.

I don’t have Gray Market in front of me. The book in my head, the book I read and absorb is a deep blue. It is a maze of feminine insight, and collective violences layered in poem. Layered in the exploration of how language sits on a page and why. How stories are told and untold and retold not to advance status, but to dissect it. As I read I go back and forth between the different poems and the different styles of each poem. Back and forth like an adult see-saw made for intricate studies of the human heart.

My manager ripped my shirt open at the party and then walked away. I had my first shot of bourbon in a souffle cup // a plastic cuplette for a side of ranch dressing // he wore a hat that said SERIAL KILLER and I wanted to fuck him but I didn’t.
Someone was trying to make me feel guilty, lying to catch me lying, and Iwasn’t going to let that work.
I got a urinary tract infection just from being too busy waiting tables to pee.

I’m observing this she-world. It radiates power and vulnerability. The narratives of each poem are juxtaposing one another and as one ends I am aware that a piece of this book has ended, and that each new poem is each new piece, and each new piece stands on the other like bricks creating the blueprint for this gray market. From the poem Scarcity Creates Fetishes…


No need to perform a language stunt.
Fear of peak oil your check engine light freakout.
Smearing the bike chain across leather interior.
Tired of being the wrong thing at the wrong place.

Sometimes I go all day without putting my thinking cap on.
I am a very careful blank target in a shitty emergency.
I don’t know how to reset the terms since I
think everyone who has sex with me likes me.

Fetish and sexuality are repeated. Sometimes as pleasure. Sometimes as trauma. Sometimes in honest combination. If it’s too cliche to call this work “unapologetic” then I’ll call it grindcore-poetic. From Romeo and Juliet Poem…

If my coping mechanism doesn’t work for you,
give it up. You do shots of bourbon, I’ll pretend
I’m Nick Cave. Let’s shut up and dance.
Let’s down tune and get grindcore.

But there is a voice that is also competent and administrative. A voice that cuts through feeling and philosophy with the cool, sterilized hands of a life long heart surgeon. It’s this voice that makes Languell’s book both a gorgeous object of femme experience and a regal study of it. From the poem Cruel Simulations…


my caution, a nauseous maw
a little problematic, my allergens
the depth of my pelvic floor

my force, a financier in seersucker
a little crowdsourced, my oaths
the adequacy of my occupation

my idea, a boom generator
a little pointed, my design
the externality of my solitude

my gentrification, a curb appeal
a little nostalgic, my irony
the path of my underemployment

I’ll end with a quote from the first poem of the book “Pain Theory” which introduces us to the speaker and the world of this book.

I become inner

which I very pussy really

which pussy is not dynamic?
my very personal reveal
you become monologue, concise
as I will, a really inner you

Which pussy is not dynamic, could be the mantra for all millennial femmes facing the harrowing journey through self-discovery, political resistance, and poetic lineage with just a warm (and necessary) blink towards the sardonic… a really inner you…

This book makes room for us.


Krystal Languell was born in South Bend, Indiana. She is the author of the books Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVox, 2011) and Gray Market (1913 Press, 2016) and the chapbooks Last Song (dancing girl press, 2014), Be a Dead Girl (Argos Books, 2014), Fashion Blast Quarter (Flying Object, 2014), Diamonds in the Flesha collaboration w/ Robert Alan Wendeborn, (Double Cross Press, 2015), and a collection of interviews, Archive Theft (Essay Press, 2015).

Development Director for Belladonna* Collaborative and publisher of the feminist poetry journal Bone Bouquet, she works as a freelance bookkeeper for small presses and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities & Media Studies at Pratt Institute. Her poetry has won a 2013-2014 Poetry Project Emerge-Surface-Be fellowship and a 2014-2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council workspace residency. New work is forthcoming in American Poetry ReviewBoston ReviewBayou Magazine and elsewhere.

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