portion of artwork for Drew Kalbach's poems

Her Haunted Lake
Drew Kalbach

Her truck-body was
trilled and stuck in her haunted lake.
She grew gills. She grew
honeydew hands. She grew fins
and webbed toes.
Time was wasted on guessing
and scrubbing grills.
There were brown eyes looking
for suicide in the freezer.
She kept boxes
of tampons behind the chicken.
My ghost is a little boy
playing with a penny-car naked
on the interstate.
I can’t count how many tissues
I’ve wasted waiting for
the television to unscramble.
Her feet are prunes.
Kelsey climbed a tree and watched
seaweed monsters play
“find the nickel”
in her backyard.
Once, in a letter, you said,
“I have mentioned some beautiful things
but mostly grabbed myself
in the dirty bathroom.”
My hair is the dirty bathroom.
I wanted the gross girls
painting their nails
on my toilet.
Sometimes I find sticky-smiles
under the deodorant.
Her haunted lake was filled
with pizza crusts. Her haunted lake
was a movie. I take control of situations
by seizing. I work up courage
to stumble down staircases.
She walked by dripping
and hungry. The haunted lake
is about my deeply rooted
issue with talking to animals.
Other issues include:
fire safety, chapped nipples,
excessive drooling at night,
nocturnal emissions.
She is lost in moaning.
I met her in a vulva elevator.
This is not a love poem.
I can’t write about
love without urination.
I knew there was a ghost
in your geyser before
she mentioned him.
For years the pirates
were pillaging her
medicine cabinet.
Kelsey would be jealous
of clean nails
and eyes that mock
her suicides. The roommates
are screaming
over wild apes and pizza.
Her kids are splattering
like hammers over hamsters.
I have to fight for toilet paper
every day. I have to pray for plagues
to feel real.
She invites us to her haunted lake
with a platter of human meat.
Normally I’m not so
self-indulgent but normally
I don’t have this
glass shard in my crotch.
She whines like the little boy
in my basement. I wanted her
to lick my grass.
I wanted to abstract
her eyelids but ate sushi instead.
I wanted something shallow.
She giggles like a girly-girl
and accuses me of sodomy.
I was a poet before
I became depressed.
The onset of most mental illnesses
coincides with my decreased
need to masturbate
which is a symptom of weather.
I love her when she drips strange liquids.
Melting on strangers was fun.
I’m writing the bugs
from my skull.
Her haunted lake was filled
with concrete. We ate
undercooked burgers in Guam.
I was a pina-colada under a palm tree.
I lied; I was a worm
in a bottle.
I lied again; tequila makes me
baritone and boring.
She was banned from the internet.
Her halo brings disaster
and fast food.
Routine became root canal,
the kind without anesthesia,
the kind where the doctors smile
and spank your ass
before they start.
She looks lovely lying
in a puddle of foreign vomit.
Her skirts are made of dogskin.
She is a founding member
of the humane society
for leopards.
I’ve been told her eyelashes
taste like fish.
Her tongue
quivers when she laughs.
The only thing left to do is dirty.
The only chunk of her
worth touching
is the extra skin
hanging from her elbows.
I was late to my own lynching.
It was the most exciting thing
to happen to me lately.
Lately, car accidents
sound like crosswalks
after classes are out.
I can hear applause coming
from her haunted lake.
The ghosts are restless and resemble
ex-girlfriends but better.
She drowns kittens for company.
Her hair is flamboyant
and offensive. Her haunted lake
is a popular tourist trap
complete with gift shop.
If I wanted oral I would have asked.
She looks radiant choking.
The sick girls are hocking things
in her haunted lake. She takes
showers in a suit.
Believe me when I say
there is no depth in height.
I have a napoleon complex.
I can’t reach the highest cupboards.
She is six feet tall
and smiling. Her breasts
sag like rainclouds.
She shares my taste for vintage
wife-beatings and awkward
foreign intercourse.
The haunted lake is a shelter
for battered women.
I am sympathetic.
I am bored before she starts crying
and bored after.
She heard me jerking off
but never finished.
The haunted lake is full of letters
to Santa the post
office threw out. Every year
I wander shirtless
through a kindergarten. Every year
she cups a stranger's balls.
People ask about the lewd clothing.
She shows them her haunted lake
and the sunken treasure
of ancient pornography.
Beautiful, they say.
They say, it is beautiful
the way a clitoris
or a man's glans can lighten with age.
Her haunted lake can’t be quiet.
She sits outside with roosters
strangling their songs.
I exercise to punish
my pounds, to beat against
her haunted lake.
Tap-dancing is more effective
than speed-walking.
Her surface is milky-glass.
I looked inside her
haunted lake and found
toddlers kissing.
Their lips sounded like this:
shmuuuup, shluck
shluck, shmluucgh, sleurght.
They shut up for
cotton balls.
I have no underwear left.
The sucking babies
ate them all.
Her haunted lake
was wonderful.
Her haunted lake
was filled with make-up.
It was nothing like
home, nothing
like quiet, nothing
like kibble in a frying pan,
like morning in a hotel room,
like ice-baths
for lent, boiling water
for breakfast.

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