i go through phases

sometimes i am sexual
and sometimes i am not sexual
during the latter I dress in tatters
or a brown paper bag with holes

sometimes i am nice to my friends
and sometimes i blow up over the littlest things!
and my friends are like, u ok?

sometimes i worry that people will read something i write and be like,
“that’s not the girl we thought she was, that’s a version of herself she creates
to try to promote a certain tone and vibe”

sometimes my therapist says, “give me an example of who thinks about you that way” and I really do
have to think about it and i look up intently at her tree tapestry as if something is hidden in it and
then of course i come to understand

sometimes a sarcastic tear loops its way around my eye socket
sometimes i write, “we live in the lung of a panicked and rollicking god” and keep it
in a document called “orphan lines” for two years
luckily it’s still most-of-the-time true
but raise your hand if you think it’s kind of an over-the-top turn of phrase?

sometimes i am not environmentally friendly
sometimes i run the shower in the other room just to pretend someone is at my house, someone who
is intimate enough to me that they would bathe their body in my proximity

sometimes i write a clean poem
sometimes i write a poem in which the lines throw up on themselves
and then i don’t clean it now or ever

sometimes i crouch like a creature in my house
sometimes i’m disgusting and the ceiling is quite high and yellow
and i don’t want to write anymore!

KRISTEN STEENBEEKE recently graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received the Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellowship and Alberta Metcalf Kelly Fellowship. She won Indiana Review’s 2017 Poetry Prize and has had or will have work in Pleiades, Sixth Finch, Gramma, Pinwheel, Tin House online, Bennington Review, Poetry Northwest, and others. She’s also a proofreader and illustrator.