There’s not a single thing in your closet
that should be worn after 1997.
You do look fat in those pants,
probably gained twenty pounds
in the last thirty minutes. There’s no parking
within ten blocks of the party.
All the people you hate are already there.
They’re miserable too, but tonight
you won’t be able to tell. They’ll have
green string tied around their middle fingers
and you’re supposed to know why.
There will be twenty-two words spoken
you don’t know the meaning of.
You will end all your sentences with prepositions.
People will notice. People will laugh
when others mention Gary Johnson.
You never Googled Aleppo. You don’t know
what it is either. All your “friends” will ask
if you’re okay, remark that you’re always
so down-to-earth. This will remind you
the entire world lies. You’ll think about
Lance Armstrong and Milli Vinilli
and your best friend who made out
with your very first boyfriend
while you were home with strep. You slept
with his letter jacket, had to wash
the snot/drool/tear stains in the sink.
You loved John Hughes movies
If you stay, you can watch The Breakfast Club
for the 57th time. Pinkie swear you won’t think
about self-harm. Swear you won’t imagine
all the ways this could end.
Think of the relationships you neglect
by leaving—the inanimate objects to be moved
and then replaced right back
where they were—the two Oreo cookies
left in the package to reassure
you didn’t eat them all at once.
Think about the floor in the bathroom,
how much more sense things make lying
with your bare back on the tile. This is you.
You are the plate and the half-eaten sandwich.
You’re the pile of laundry. Don’t forget how
it is out there. This stain on the carpet is you.
These unread books—you. Don’t forget you.
Added: Thursday, June 15, 2017 / From Not Without Our Laughter, (Mason Jar Press, 2017)
Katy Richey’s work has appeared in Rattle, Cincinnati Review, RHINO, The Offing, and other journals. She received an honorable mention for the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Poetry Award. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops and The Cave Canem Foundation. She is also the recipient of a Fine Arts Work Center Walker Scholarship for Writers of Color and a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. She co-hosts Sunday Kind of Love Reading and Open Mic Series at Busboys and Poets in Washington DC, sponsored by Split This Rock.