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Krystal Languell
Krystal Languell

(The essay on modesty)

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 28, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I was thinking of the hurdles set up for young women to discourage their independence. A girl tries to access power through the channels she’s been introduced to, namely limited to purity, only to be denied anyway. All I have been able to conclude is that once we are willing to ask for permission, we’ve already lost our chance. This poem is from a series called ‘Little Runaway,’ a reference to the 1961 #1 song ‘Runaway’ by Del Shannon.”
—Krystal Languell

(The essay on modesty)

(The essay on modesty) (in application for) (bodily autonomy)

              (She lost that case) (on (wide is the gate))  (rhetorically memorable)

                            (Arbiter rise)

(Attracted to) (the most minor) (advantages)                 (adopting gendered props)

              (Assaying willingness)                       (I notice a certain scarlet letter)

(Dream of a house)           (it can’t be mine)     (vast roominess)

                            (Dream of a beach) (but it’s a beach with a                 problem)

              (In the smug of your (natural woman))               (I have had (a stain) (a conceit))

                                        (Despite appearances (allegedly))

              (A medical person) (declares the injury a                                     non-emergency)

Copyright © 2017 by Krystal Languell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 28, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Krystal Languell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 28, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

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When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

To be a good
ex/current friend for R. To be one last

inspired way to get back at R. To be relationship
advice for L. To be advice

for my mother. To be a more comfortable
hospital bed for my mother. To be

no more hospital beds. To be, in my spare time,
America for my uncle, who wants to be China

for me. To be a country of trafficless roads
& a sports car for my aunt, who likes to go

fast. To be a cyclone
of laughter when my parents say

their new coworker is like that, they can tell
because he wears pink socks, see, you don’t, so you can’t,

can’t be one of them. To be the one
my parents raised me to be—

a season from the planet
of planet-sized storms.

To be a backpack of PB&J & every
thing I know, for my brothers, who are becoming

their own storms. To be, for me, nobody,
homebody, body in bed watching TV. To go 2D

& be a painting, an amateur’s hilltop & stars,
simple decoration for the new apartment

with you. To be close, J.,
to everything that is close to you—

blue blanket, red cup, green shoes
with pink laces.

To be the blue & the red.
The green, the hot pink.

Chen Chen
2017
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