What A Shame | E. Kristin Anderson

                                    (after Taylor Swift)

This week my whole body has rejected reality, an apocalypse
within an apocalypse, and I know better than to ask for help.

I lived so long walling myself in with cassette tapes, frightened
of the madwoman beneath my own skin. I don’t think I know

what crazy means anymore but certainly you know better than
to stand so close to a wild creature. I slip myself through the eye

of a needle and burn myself to cinders. I’m not the woman you 
intended me to be. Did you think I’d say anything other than

fuck you forever? I may never ascend to crone but time is what
I have now and it’s excruciating but it’s mine. I’ve learned that

the line between rot and ruin is the slice of a hot knife. And I’ve 
learned that my teeth are broken and bespoke. I’m losing track 

of days and don’t know my own age anymore. Call me angry 
but I’ll show you how anger blooms in me like cactus flowers 

in the tinderbox that is my gut. Even fish die in hurricanes and 
I wonder how I became this sordid lullaby to sing, an ominous 

sunset, a window I’ve climbed through. I’m inside-out and alive. 
Now I see I’m the snow you didn’t scrape from your roof I’m 

leaking into your attic I’m a spreading mildew a rot in the wood. 
Most days I’m trying to move on. I throw five year old pills into 

the trash with melted cough drops and post office receipts. I hold 
cassettes in my hands that I’ll pass to the next generation, the lonely 

and the weird that frightens you, the bear dark and hungry behind 
your house. It’s true—I don’t know what crazy means anymore. 

But I understand consequence. I understand all manner of failures—
those that live unabashed inside me and those that are not my own.


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 Michigan Quarterly Review, The PinchBarrow StreetTriQuarterly, and Barrelhouse Online. 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), We’re Doing Witchcraft (Porkbelly Press) and Behind, All You’ve Got (Semiperfect Press). Kristin is a poetry reader at Cotton Xenomorph and an editorial assistant at Porkbelly Press. Once upon a time she worked the night shift at The New Yorker. Find her online at EKristinAnderson.com 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, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.