Michelle Roberts: Two Poems

Michelle Roberts is an MA candidate at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and an editorial assistant for Prairie Schooner. Michelle co-curates the No Name Reading Series in Lincoln, Nebraska where she currently resides.


Today Is A Man At The Post Office Who Did Not Hold The Door Open For Me

Today is a 32 pack of PBR
Today is a walk downtown in my tiger leggings
Today is the oppression of the Queen
Today is a serial killer
Today is my teenage angst walking past me with his shirt off
Today is a drunken alleyway
Today is knuckles
Today is knuckles on my cheek
Today is a girl who does not wear sequins
Today is a tree branch in my head firing twigs through my temples
Today is “screw you muse, can’t you see I am driving?”
Today is Tom Waits
Today is a missed call
Today is this vagina and a castle I cannot escape
Today is a struggle
that will grow in my best friends breast
Today is “I’m tired of your bullshit,”
Today is a pocket walk
Today is a pebble
Today is a pebble that got lost on the driver side.
Today is the Midwest weather crash
Today is getting nothing done
Today is not good enough
Today is your birthday
Today is a man I’ve never met who tells me goodnight
Today is “Let me show my anger for once,”
Today is infusing confidence because I am no longer gender but a weapon

Today is two lungs stuck to my lips while I suck on a cigarette so hard it has to go to the ER and I will never quit this breath,
all of this hate and madness and chaos and rioting and revolutionizing and Googling and social injustice and trying to get people to understand
an American disability
Today is me waiting for the wind inside a mason jar
Today is canned
Today is never happening again
Today is coming for you
Today is a bully

Today is a new therapist’s waiting room with a boy that won’t look me in the eye, lying on the floor underneath 3 chairs avoiding his feelings
Today is breathing heavy, put on ice
for tea time
Today is fucking for breeding
Today is the day you knew would come
Today is a 187
Today is genocide
Today is a catcall
Today is the joining of X and Y
Today is pretentious and has a name
Today is blonde white girls don’t have problems day
Today is killing an animal to press between two buns
Today is making a profit
Today is a blowjob
Today is ________
Today is shrapnel on my tongue and you and me and this world
is Russian Roulette.


Driving Past Stansbury Bay

There is not enough salt in Utah
to preserve us. We’re just a song that made its debut
by payola. AM airplay used to be so criminal.
Radio station static bursts and bellies
up on my dash
as I keep driving on to Nevada.

White halite down to
latch; turn the key of our open
mouths, damp
it sticks to our lips and limbs were never meant

to reach across so many miles
of elsewhere life.

What are you looking for?