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September 4, 2021

Ode to Valerie

Patti Creamer

I too know what it’s like to be so unfree so close to
the gleaming pyrite of Atlantic City. To never know
what your body feels like without the sticky grit
of tiny rocks smashed into tinier rocks

or the prodding of hierarchy; it is so much lesser than you.
I too knew that I had been insulted, eyes pureed and yoked
dehydrated by the television and that reptilian’s yellow haircut
forced to attain the leisure class we so wish to exterminate

and I too would never morganize without good reason.
I know what a gun looks like, like you,
and I know when somebody plots to plagiarize and play dumb.
I think of you in that house filled with the smell of salt,

in that library checking out DVDs you never intend to return
waiting for your crush to log online. I think of you riding
your bike into telephone poles begging
to leave the scene but instead making your funeral march

straight to the ocean to spite the inflammation set in your lungs,
the five-day fever skipping on the turntable. I think of you
sticking magnets to the tiny rocks smashed into tinier rocks so daring
disturbing electrons watching the greens and blues and purples.

I think of you listening to a soundtrack of broken mufflers
all goddamn summer trying to be the most lethal person
in the room but still fearing you are not lethal enough.
Valerie, I know he betrayed you in Egg Harbor just like he betrayed me,

I know that everything that dies comes back, I know
our mortal horror lives but not for long and I know
when they hear of the femme fatale, they will not think of Nico,
they will not think of youthquakers, no, they will think of us