Chelsea Harlan

I am the messiest confetti popper
at the Chinese New Year's Parade.

A wolf that used to be alive I guess
haunches permanently in the corner

(as they do)
also permanently filled with rage
that is, because he's a tchotchke now,
hilarious. Telepathic,

I trust this wolf when he says beware
the portmanteau. Beware the poet

positron with the grue-bleen eyes
who escorts me to the bathroom
with unflattering light.

He, not the wolf but the man the wolf
prophesied, is tall—
I want it all.

Two tiny banana butter mints.
The moon's huge castaway claw.

I poof. The tall man can't reach
me despite his long perfect arms

so there are hours I don't exist.
I am with the taxidermied wild
American landscape gang,

the one the Warriors forgot about.
And I don't know how,
by maybe a lupine cry,

I was lost and then I was found howling.
The man carried me like a sack of mercury.
He brought me back and we felt each other

to some experimental tunes called Love
by Amen Dunes, which I love,
and at six I made flowering tea
also a flavor called "love"

that spilt on my naked stomach.
I fell asleep while the man cut up
some aloe. I woke alone.

"Blackout" is a beautiful word
for the matter right in front of us
that we cannot see but trust
is just there.






After a night spent actually out of my mind on a combination of strange drugs and even stranger company, I woke in the afternoon, very late for work, with a second-degree burn on my stomach. Still dazed from the events and the feelings they inspired, I couldn't even recognize the pain until I tried to make storied sense of it, and what it meant for my fleeting "relationship" with the person responsible. Having written about love and romance before, this experience was different in that I couldn't trust my own first-hand account. I have very little evidence of this ruinous night but that haunty, spooky cloud of memory mystery follows me literally in the form of a scar. "Banana" is about not trusting myself or the other person involved or the retrospective narrative or poetry in general, for that matter. Because when trying to relay feelings felt in a work of art, there is usually some amount of gathered thought like a small souvenir that carries through clearly. In this case, the scramble to remember was itself the sole souvenir, and so my poem explores the fractals of the event remembered honestly plus the shame and worry of not knowing myself or my state of mind then or what might happen when those non-feelings are forced into a poem. "Banana" tries its best to make sense out of nonsense but finds itself also stuck in a fog, revealing that art doesn't necessarily access realized past truthfully when it isn't sure of itself. The poem is like a dream diary entry meets a moral tale with no bowtie ending, meets complicated thoughts on love and temporality and, of course, #yolo.