Two Poems by Katrina Papouskaya

These two poems by Katrina Papouskaya are at the cross-section of loss, longing, and fantasy. They speak, in different ways, on the desire for a place or person to call home…

by: Katrina Papouskaya


I want to finish this to the end. You come 
turning a corner too fast like in that
‘Celibacy at Twenty’ Olds poem you love so much. 
I am your reverie and nightmare. Statistically 
a lot of women like to imagine me taking them. 
Statistically a lot of women have been taken 
but this is different from the control
of imagining it. You like my 
indifferent face. You like the stalking
across a stage, riling up a crowd, the 
hunched shoulders. I am turning 
away from you. I am throwing you 
small morsels because you think that’s
how the world works. You’ll take 
what I give you and be grateful. I hold up
your chin like a merciful villain. My smile
is too close to a shark’s. You’ll grow up
and learn being with a man like me 
is empty. You like a twist of the arm. 
You like me wild-eyed with anger. 
There’s a sigh I haven’t
worked you up to yet and it bears
my name. The girls at the edge of
the stage feel it too. Be my groupie
so I can say I had them in my whiskey-
swirling age. By then, you’ll be free of me 
and happy. By then, I’ll lose a lung
while you tie a ribbon in your marrying girl’s hair.
It’s how you make something out of me
when I’ve given you me.
It’s Gotten Cold at the Beach 

I was never any good at making friends.

I want to break boundaries now,
splinter them like 

a #2 pencil on an adolescent
high school day. Boundaries –  

a month ago, I just wanted to 
hear myself think, to read 

while watching twilight descend 
outside a window taller than me, 

mess up my bedsheets then 
make them smell fresh again. 

Now, I’m hungry and wondering 
if it’s my fault I’m not helping dust 

the last of the sand off a girl’s shorts 
as we tie up our drying hair 

into something presentable 
in front of a beach bathroom mirror.

There’s a muggy stench and again,
it’s twilight. We’re going out for beers 

with the boys, a quarter of who we 
might flirt with, but mostly, they’re brothers. 

I was just trying to protect myself. 

What wanted to come to me 
would come to me; 

I wouldn’t sacrifice my cat’s company 
for a 5AM night’s end. 

Now, to make up for lost time, I’m 
curling my lashes and nursing hard ciders 

and lashing the page at home about 
all the lovely red disco lights; 

the way they paint my friends’ faces.

Katrina Papouskaya is a Belarusian-American writer currently residing in Brooklyn with her cat. She holds an MFA in poetry from The New School. Her poetry has been featured in Glassworks magazine, Miracle Monocle, and is forthcoming in Menacing Hedge.

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