Two Poems

Sarah Certa



Today I am staying in my t-shirt and underwear

with so much sadness

in every ounce of my body, like being cradled

in the achy arms of the flu, and because there is nothing

else to do, I might as well climb onto the rooftop

and think about flamingoes, whose wild pink wings have been flashing

across the white sky of my brain all week for no apparent reason. I might even

light a cigarette. I might even smoke it. I might even call

the first friend I made in college, the poet

who bought me wine and kissed me on the cheek, said I looked

just like his ex-girlfriend and wouldn’t I like

to be his supermodel? Why not be his supermodel

and traipse across the tight-ropes of his world in six-inch stilettos with a martini in one hand

and a silk neck tie in the other, wear lipstick and make movies

in the living room of his dreams? I wonder if wearing lipstick

would make me feel older. Right now I feel like a living room

that needs to be rearranged. My knees keep knocking

into my nerves, which keep tripping

over my anorexia and into

my arms. I hate that I have to keep reminding myself

that I am an adult. I hate that I don’t know

what that means. If Victoria’s Secret knew everything about sexy

they wouldn’t be selling bras. Just white t-shirts

and mango-flavored chap-stick. Movies of men cooking dinner while outside

an end-of-August storm creeps over the horizon like a bruise

on your spine you didn’t know was there but like

to press up against because it makes you feel like you’ve done

something. This morning I got the mail from the mailbox

and that was something. I got a letter and that made me happy

but then I realized I had to open it

and I was sad, like tearing apart the seams

that keep a secret, when I opened the letter I thought I heard the sharp

first cry of a newborn, and so from now on I want to keep all my letters

unopened and next to my pillow forever, so that even after I die

they will always be there, the little pile of envelopes

with their little heavens breathing inside.

When I think about heaven I imagine

walking naked into the field across the street where

it’s 1968 and I’m somewhere in Canada

taking pictures of all the small white flowers licking at my ankles so I can make postcards

to send to all the people who live far away, all the people

I’m always thinking of, which is everyone,

every day. When I think about heaven I feel

the way my daughter must feel when she sees

I’ve been crying and offers me her tiny body

to hold. When I think about heaven I think maybe

I should stop thinking all together and move through the rest of the day

like the water that makes up more than half

of our bodies, how it moves

like a moan through the dark, curving

over the lip of a cup, holding on to itself longer than seems possible,

until the break, the spill, the tiny crash of the drip

of an IV next to the bed like the one that I’m in where

my veins are really no more

or less blue than yours, all these bruises

on my body from an ocean no one has named. 



Hello Hello


Poets are some of the emptiest people I know

is a thought that just hit me from somewhere in the back

of my brain, those shithead elves throwing snowballs at me.

My armpits are damp because I’ve spent

the morning alone on my couch, thinking about strands

of words like pearls, how much I want to kiss

every collarbone in the world.

How much I miss you.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a bird or

fingered myself, and now the morning is over and I’m still

on the couch, my belly full of pasta, my Christmas lights on and

my heart so steady I can feel it in my clit, that humming-

bird tongue where the tops of my thighs meet.

What are you doing and why isn’t it me?

I’m trying to let go of the person I am.

I’m trying to smile more.

I’m trying to stop trying.

I’m trying to break down the door and build playgrounds out of cotton,

spend more time moaning, invent prayers

to swallow like rosary

beads, holy pills on a string.

I want to choke on something beautiful

and then spit it back up

into the mouths of strangers on the street

so I can feel like a good citizen in my community. 

I wonder if I have a disease.

I don’t care if I have a disease.

This is me on a Sunday.

Hello hello I’m a person in the world and I love you.

Hello hello I’m too stupid to say anything about war except

I love that millions of you have died inside me.

Where does all that sperm go?

is a question I am now seriously wondering, my vagina

walls like some sort of graveyard,

except it’s never sad. This is the first happy poem

I’ve ever written about dying, and I don’t know

enough about my bank account or refrigerator,

but I have both and today that’s enough. 


 About the Writer

Sarah Certa was born in Germany in 1987. She is the author of RED PAPER HEART, a limited-edition chapbook from Zoo Cake Press (2013). Her poems appear in Narrative, B O D Y, Metazen, Paper Darts, and elsewhere. She lives in central Minnesota.