A STILL LIFE OF ORANGES AND ERMINE by KOBY L. OMANSKY

Once, very drunk, I read aloud a poem about lov[ing you]
after a friend had just vomited all over the comforter and
was moaning guts. I thought: I’ll show her how shame
can laugh at itself, bare on a pulpy blanket.
Look; it’s just us, bags of bile, hanging out.
Besides, dim rooms are for movement.

Another girl there in the room wept, she was so moved by [my loving you]
leopard print legs spilled inward in her heaving.
We later learned she was a racist. Something something
about my loving you also fearing what it did not know,
but frankly, just a threadbare attempt to find meaning
in a moment that once existed with people who
must still exist, but also don’t anymore.

I would like to believe that poem is still true,
Only because it was once.
That it wasn’t poisoned by its physics in a bigoted heart.
That it exists beyond me enough
to not bear my portrait above its mantle,
but close enough to touch me with its foot under the blanket,
which is to say, have context.

If I were to do the work of metaphor,
or take up painting now that poetry is ruined–
it would be an acrylic girl gripping the toilet bowl, wailing
“I am s o sorry I do n’t know
I’ve had less before and it didn’t
happen this way at all”


Koby L. Omansky is a writer and digital organizer for justice reform whose work has appeared in places like FIVE:2:ONE, Lunch Ticket, anthologies by Platypus Press and Thoughtcrime Press, and more. She was the 2016 recipient of the Andrea K. Willison Poetry Prize at Sarah Lawrence College, and most recently named a finalist in BOAAT Press’s 2019 Chapbook Prize. She lives and works in Brooklyn. On Twitter she is @KobyLiliana

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.