Saturday, January 27, 2018

Poetry By Anastasia Jill

Anastasia Jill (Anna Keeler) is a queer poet and fiction writer living in the southern United States. She is a current editor for the Smaeralit Anthology. Her work has been published or is upcoming with, Cleaver Magazine, FIVE:2:ONE, Ambit Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Hawai'i Pacific Review, The Laurel Review: Fearsome Critters, and more. 


Erin’s in a rush with nowhere to go
but the rocks and tundra of wooden
trees in her backyard /
she spends every day
in a carrie underwood fueled craze
of country music
hazel eyes
and the american spry
of the girl beyond the fence
who took the name karma
the one who broke the tops along the fence,
separating them like bits of teeth

she smells like fresh rubber,
has hips like dirt piles
and her hair is always wet from
morning showers.
she could fit in Erin’s pocket
and snuggle against her thigh
like pulp in a nectar.
if they could meet.
they would speak and runaway.
this, at least, is what Erin always imagined.

one day,
a piece of wood-tooth breaks,
falls on her half,
Erin picks it up
tosses it back.

karma looks over,
asks Erin, ‘did u do that?’

a new gumption grabbed Erin’s jaw,
and said,
‘yes ma’am.
it was me.
I did that.’


for as small as karma was,
she kept an even smaller woman in her pocket,
the type of goddess she’d introduce Erin to.
for now, they sit on a beach
made of palm, drinking jack bottles
and admiring each other
and karma tells her,
‘being loose. this is what matters.’
and like this, they are together,
pudgy tummy over bikini string
the twang hugging empty space
between their buck teeth
like picks against a banjo,
their tongues plant flowers,
and sing a special country song.
for a minute, they forget
they were children of the backwoods.
but they weren’t children anymore;
they were women,
skin bold and bright
denying a fresh burn sticking to their skin
like leather.
karma later went and stood up,
sat on Erin’s lap,
cheeks hugged with sandy crystals
and pressed into her hands like a present.
this is when Erin learned,
someday was just a word.
if someday were this
it weren’t soon enough,
she could tell y’all that much.


turns out Erin was right –
karma loves to run away
stole her daddy’s car and left,
under the moon, stuck in the sky like
a hitchhiking thumb.
Erin took off with her
because there was nothing else to do.
karma leaned in, breath smelling like
a rotten PBR can. She locked the door
and swore, ‘i ain’t the warden.’

they said they were running
but ain’t no place for them to run –
no place for their toes to sink,
no beds familiar with their curves,
no bathtubs damp with dirt from their porch,
no clementine trees to grow roots in backyards.

‘don’t be silly,’ karma says,
‘clems don’t grow on trees’ and
Erin cannot BELIEVE how wrong karma is!
wrong but still friendly
with a secret in her pocket

Erin wants to grab that secret and run
and she tries-
Erin tries to run, so hard

dragging the handle, she’s on the road,
then climbing a water tower.
karma catches her,
slams her body to the ground,
threatens to make her one of the roots
leaving wood shaped kisses on her cheek
and even though she pulled the lock,
and the lock could come undone,
karma was still the warden. now aware of where she is.


together they find a waffle house where
the waitresses get into altercations
this is fitting, because
karma’s hand fits perfectly smashed against Erin’s

Erin takes this chance to look out the window
because karma won’t let her eat
all there is? road, houses pink,
trimmed, and full of dolly parton charm.

Erin wants a drink
but it’s after midnight-- no cigar --
dry counties pave the way for her spine
to be broken and busted, like her butt.
karma’s legs jiggle under the table
while Erin misses her backyard,
in the days where karma was mystery,
and nothing more.

her eyes burn like squeezed tangerines
as karma spits into them for fun.

Erin stands up. tells her no.
no what?
No karma.
it wasn’t me.
it wasn’t me who tossed your teeth over the fence,
it wasn’t my yard for you, open to invasion.
it wasn’t me you held on the beach.
wasn’t me you promised someday.

this wasn’t me.
I want to go home.
take me, now.’

without waiting for permission,
she puts her hand on karma’s back
to reach for the secret planted.
her pockets opened.

it was Erin she was hiding.
that was the big secret.
it WAS Erin.

small and timid.
a plastic, fake possession.
she had no mouth,
her eyes were shut
but her lap was strong,
her hands looked stronger,
karma scoffed and took her back,
yet again.
Erin watched the vision of herself
get pressed back into denim;
the clap of teeth against her backside
broke her psyche in two.
it was imagination and she knew that
but she wanted to runaway too.
they both sat there, silently fighting.
neither of them ever got their waffles.


Erin sits in her car surrounded by burning garbage
while karma kicks her heels up on the dash.
Small things disappear, burning up in stench.
‘I love this woman,’ Erin says
with meaning,
before flinging herself into the fire,
going down

as karma watches her
burn in the orange flame.

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