after Neko Case

When I find the morning I pull it from the ground
and whisper an invocation. Across these counties,

I’ve left myself motherless, let myself bear the name
emergency when I kick up dust. The name ghost

when I’m out of breath. But even in this apocalypse
every constellation bears your name. And in 2019

what is ghostly if not a lost memory, a dove whistling
in the evening, a glacier melting into the sea—and still

I didn’t know love could run so deep and alive before
I heard you laugh and there is nothing on earth I wouldn’t

grind to sand to keep you in the light. That winter when you
climbed into my lap and fell asleep warm and breathing

you became the spring—tonight I pray to every sweet
brown mouse who has suffered so I could live in this future.

And I wonder—what legacy have we left you in these years
of self-destruction? No matter how hard I try I can’t wash

this entire week out of my hair and when morning still
finds me in this corner of the earth I am filthy and

I miss you. I drop a letter in the nearest mailbox and even
as I crash into the asphalt I know there is nothing standing

that I wouldn’t knock down and I’m waiting, a fire shivering.
My knees are aching but I spend my evenings laying down

rails sturdy in the rubble because I know a day will come
when you need the space to run because if you are anything

you are the speed of sound, blooming like magnolia mile
after mile. This love I keep is like breath to me now and

my tornado heart will hold your name to the smoke and
to the sky, glowing wicked until the blood in me is gone.

E. Kristin Anderson is a poet and glitter enthusiast living mostly at a Starbucks somewhere in Austin, Texas. A Connecticut College alumna with a B.A. in classical studies, Kristin’s work has appeared in many magazines including The Texas Review, The PinchBarrelhouse OnlineTriQuarterly, and FreezeRay Poetry. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture (Anomalous Press) and is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry including Pray Pray Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press), Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press), 17 seventeen XVII (Grey Book Press), and Behind, All You’ve Got (Semiperfect Press). Kristin is a poetry reader at Cotton Xenomorph and an editorial assistant at Sugared Water. Once upon a time she worked the night shift at The New Yorker. Find her online at and on twitter at @ek_anderson.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.