Two Poems

Catalogue of Ships

I love B movie stars first/ boarding school characters/ & weekly magazines/ I love a stage/ I love rumors & runners & black hair/ I love a pot head/ I love getting dumped on a river cruise in a red dress/ I love a boy who loves me & everyone else we know/ I love samba & soccer the whole summer of 1998/ a Seattleite/ throwing bottles into trees & ravines/ a guitar climbs into my ivy-screened window/ plays Norwegian Wood/ I love/ then benzos are in my tea/ what happens next exactly/ I’ll never know again/ but I love him & Paris is a baroque blur I yell about/ I have color in my cheeks/ two fist holes in the wall/ my shoved body hits pavement & an escort through the club’s back door/ I love leaving & hiding & drinking in a pool hall/ haircuts after midnight/ nothing more than running home in the dark & bleeding ankles/ I love watching a man run naked through the desert/ how unhappy he loves to be/ I love not being loved in unfurnished apartments/ I love goodnight/ & only being loved when I’m gone/ I love leaving him for a city three thousand miles away/ I love passing out at my own parties first/ I love a poet/ I love a poet/ I love an improv comedian/ I had a crush on in high school/ that one night in the East Village/ kissed on the street/ I love falling on my face/ I love scraping gum off the floor in Grand Central Station under the gold zodiac/ I love being left/ to watch the tropical storm alone by a marine who saves Manhattan’s imported cheese from drowning/ I love loving nobody for years/ but Frederick Law Olmstead/ his circles & trees/ my body a vector, a record, a stranger/ I love the coyotes wandering down from upstate/ lost in Central Park/ I love a cat who loves me back/ I love hawks flying above the mall/ the wave pool/ a painter who’s good at faking it/ I love pretending I’m on my way to living in a magazine/ I love when the phone call ends & I stop screaming/ I love selling my wedding dress to a woman in Belgium/ selling my diamond ring/ the cool white walls of a suburban pawn shop/ I love not knowing/ I love the Ozark trail for existing/ the heavy rains/ the airports/ still points & time intersect/ I’ll meet you here again & again


Cloud Study

Stunned alive some nights, 
an orange sock on blue sheets, 

announcing okay every time I bend 
or turn or step on a cord, a marble

hand pulls me in—okay,
okay, okay—I don’t know what

else to say, things are vivid—
okay, I say to the peanut butter

going back on a shelf; okay,
to the towel I wrap around

my head to soak the drip
of clocks from inside 

out; okay, to know dying
is here & there, in a tiny bite,

a sting, the porcelain tub, the sockets,
the sky; a knell can come

not even knowing the day; okay, 
a dark fit, the if I fall for good 

who will know & how soon, who finds
me—a list of bones tallied & how

awful the five minutes counting
till, okay, I want a bowl of soup,

the body dings arrival 
& departure upon endless

runways; okay, I sit 
down & the light shifts;

okay, I will forget most things
I ever do or say, but okay, let’s do

language—the hands speak 
in glowing terms, a magic; okay, see, 

a calendar with these hours & days 
to scrawl sweet names across—how

never near enough, but okay, wait—
wanting to breathe more is okay, okay

to be the whole sky fit through 
windows like sitting on hot tarmac, 

a blurred lifeline where the eye waits 
on love, an idling jet, days landlocked 

& under lusting clouds—a wandering pack 
of faceless lookalikes, frayed by heat

and these bright square pages on the wall
where I explain myself with shadow: 

bumping hearts, airplanes, these hours are
hawks, okay: all the things that fly away. 

Cate Peebles is the author of Thicket, winner of the 2017 Besmilr Brigham Award from Lost Roads Press. She is the author of several chapbooks, including The Woodlands (Sixth Finch Books, 2015), James (dancing girl press, 2014), and 9 Poems (eye for an iris press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, The Atlas Review, Boston Review, Typo, jubilat, Tin House, and elsewhere; new work is forthcoming in Tammy and the American Poetry Review. She co-edits the occasional online magazine, Fou (foumagazine.net), and lives in New Haven, CT, where she is a museum archivist at the Yale Center for British Art.