One of the most enriching, forward-thinking, fastest-growing online creative communities flourishing right now is the Poetry community, especially in those scenes that centre on marginalized voices — Women, POC, Neurodivergent, and LGBTQ. Poetry Spotlight is a feature aiming to showcase the work of some of the most talented creators we’ve discovered making waves on the Internet literary circles, inside or outside the mainstream. On our inaugural issue, we present three poems by American writer Lauren Prairrie, from her self-released chapbook Love in the time of Celexa (2017), a collection about the lifecycle of a relationship through the lens of depression.
Lauren is a confessional poet from the lower Hudson Valley in New York. Her work is primarily autobiographical and focuses on the universal aspects of emotion — that is to say, imagine if Carly Rae Jepsen got really into existentialism. While often tackling difficult subject matter, Lauren’s writing is rife with sing-songy rhyme schemes and pop culture references to add a sense of levity to the otherwise heavy material. In September 2017, she self-released her first chapbook, Love in the Time of Celexa, out of concern that the world would end before she was able to secure a publishing deal. Thankfully, that anxiety has yet to be actualized so she has begun work on her next project: a collection of letters dedicated to one of her best friends who recently passed away. She hopes you enjoy this spotlight as much as she enjoys being beneath it.
Love in the Time of Celexa
Would you still want me if you could see
the pile of dishes at the foot of my bed?
I spent all my energy pretending to be okay.
I am doing my best to convince everyone
that I don’t feel like I’m rotting from inside out
and now my bedroom is a minefield.
How do I explain the part of my brain that
doesn’t always work the way it should
without reducing myself to a liability?
I am going to call you at quarter after two
when I’m kept awake by how I hate myself
and all I need to hear is that you don’t.
(There is no manual for how to love me
and the pills aren’t always going to work.
I hope you’re a very patient man.)
You’ll have a split second between when
you wake and when you take the call to iron out
the edge in your voice that would break my heart.
Would you sneak out of our bed at night because
if you have to listen to me crying in my sleep
for one more second, you’ll lose your mind too?
Or would you understand that this too shall pass?
I can’t expect you to stay but I can tell you
that I always come back into the light.
I’m exactly the girl you fell for;
I just get eclipsed by my shadow sometimes.
A Body Full of Ghosts
It’s hard to find the way to describe being abused
when you’re still afraid to admit that you were.
How could I ever write an ode to survivors
with the word still so foreign on my tongue?
Who am I to lay claim to a language
that I’m not ready to speak out loud?
What gall have I to reassure girls of their strength
when the weight could crush me at any second?
I seek salvation in the pages of Webster’s
in hopes that if I can put a name to the nightmare,
my vocabulary will grow as raw as my body
and I can stop speaking like a ribbon wrapped bruise.
Only then will I be free from your specter.
I’ll spend a month mourning all the sunshine eclipsed
and then I’ll work to warm back my blood –
grow into something besides my own grave.
All I want is the strength to speak my truth
in hopes that my honesty will bring you down
the way your lies kept me for so long on my knees.
Let my first smile in months illuminate your wreckage.
What My Sister Would Tell Me If I Could Say Your Name Out Loud
I. I’m sorry that you felt your bones break
against the glacier you mistook for a heart
but let this be a lesson:
II. When winter comes, and it always comes,
you bundle up or you get frostbite.
This isn’t any different. Stay warm.
III. Don’t beat yourself up for hearing a challenge
in what was meant to be a warning.
You’ve been through enough.
IV. Who taught you how to stay soft
when the world demands you harden?
It damn sure wasn’t me or mom.
V. Not everyone will treat you
the way you deserve so
please be kind to yourself.
VI. Nothing lasts forever –
that goes for this pain as well.
Survival is in our blood.
VII. Every now and then the wound will re-open.
Bite your lip, get it stitched, and keep it moving.
The pain isn’t anything to fear, I promise.
VIII. The only real way out is through
but it’s okay if you need to escape sometimes.
Just don’t go losing yourself again.
IX. Forgive yourself for the way your tolerance for pain
went shot for shot with his capacity for inflicting it
but Jesus Christ, never let it get that bad again.
X. You don’t have to forgive him for the way
he never absorbed your sensitivity through your skin.
Even if he warned you.