[ToC]

 

2 POEMS

Lizzie Harris

 

 

EXTINCTION

We fled east or maybe home
moved west. We lived six months
in a monastery—four Jews
in a desert. My mother

packed photos, but not enough
to prove I was ever a child.
I look better in pictures
I take of myself. I like to keep an eye

on my guise. Sometimes I see
myself in someone else's image.
I feel outside my lifespan. Even
earth is preparing for middle age:

I read about its sixth extinction
while doing butt-shaping exercises
alone in my boyfriend's bed.
Loneliness is a muscle worth

straining. Time's arrow
would say that after you fall apart
there's really no putting yourself
back together. Some physicists say

we're only here to generate heat,
and I believe them.
The year he left, my father called
each night to promise he'd return to us.

Like a time machine, he appeared,
but with a new baby (the scene we'd imagined
with minor adjustments).
Microscopic irreversibility.

Your life has overwhelming importance
when you take it out of context.
Why not settle into frame?
Space? I took it up.

Time will say she made heat
with the best of them.
I broke down like a time machine.
I lived, irreversibly.

 

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DEPRESSION IN THE INTERNET AGE

I accumulate data, aggregate data.
Most unwillingly. Each cell is a carrier

of a larger organism. This is my body:
it holds up my mind, it takes me

to and from the office. Most of my fears
revolve around maintaining it.

When bombs go off, I scroll through
my news feed—time won't load any faster.

When I mention the bombs, coworkers ask which bombs?     
I qualify by city, and populate the specifics.

I sign a list of petitions. I forward clips
of the scene: people running very differently,

people speaking very differently.
I track updates beneath a sheet of air-conditioning.

Whatever great pressure pushes down
from the clouds, it does not want life

to be about clarity. Age wasted on the aged.
Wait here. Just be in awe of it.

 

 

 

 

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These poems center around the Internet as a sort of apocalypse, its creation an immediate shift in the way we navigate the world. For me, a big part of that is the juxtaposition of immediacy and perspective. I've found myself telling intimate stories in broad context—individual experiences cast against a great expanse of time; personal traumas placed beside public tragedies. I'm interested in how the emotional scale of things is so different from the scale of things.