America by Zoe Strauss 1-2

I’m kind of in love with photographer Zoe Strauss’s work. I’m gonna try to do a series of poems based on the pictures in her book America. It’ll be similar to the Daniel Richter series I did a while ago–ekphrasis is really cool as an alternative to the essay I think.



America by Zoe Strauss—Vanessa

First let me start out by saying this
and I don’t say this often enough to you
but listen this time because I can’t repeat
this for you no matter how much you
beg me to.

(I know you don’t like it when I smoke
but fuck you, you know?)

Last weekend was terrible but
it’s always good to know that
you will always be there for me
like that, like when you picked me
up from that party where I was fearing
for my life, yet again. It’s always something
isn’t it.

No, it’s not that I love you or anything
like that at all, or anything.



America by Zoe Strauss—Twin Beds on Cantrell St.

When I got here it was hot here
And it’s hot now too but less so
With the beds pushed apart
And your sweaty bread body
Turning away like that from me.

Maybe it’s the light? It’s hurting
your eyes? Maybe it’s the way I
had really lightly (I thought) and
casually suggested that maybe
we could do that again.

You didn’t like that, I thought,
since I think your eyes welled
up and you sobbed almost and
I remember thinking, man, this
girl is really unhappy about this.

But the room cost me fifty bucks
and we can’t just leave without
coming to some kind of grasping
of why it’s okay for me to do
what I intend to keep on doing.


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