Poor Claudia published poetry, prose and conversations online and in print from 2009 to 2018.

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Shrode Heil

Five Poems

  • Days These Are My Friends
  • Groundhog Day
  • Venn Diagram
  • Water Wings
  • Piñata Baby

Days These Are My Friends

So I’m trying to figure out if
life has an intermission: if
dreams don’t count
then maybe long car trips?
Or train travel, the quiet joy
of sitting and waiting
or walking and waiting
and knowing what will happen next,
to be relieved of the burden of orchestrating
the arrival of the second act.
Even at my grandma’s funeral,
her dead body just feet away,
crying wasn’t sadness.
I highly recommend open sobbing
as a sublime finale to a sexual act,
provided it doesn’t terrify
the one you are with.
Tar doesn’t help.
And try not to bite your fingernails.
So much of the song/the singing is about patience.
I want to ask every last one of you,
what is joy?
Through the windshield I see road signs and pavement.
If there was somebody
in the adjacent seat I might touch
his/her forearm.
There was.
And then there was a plane to catch.
A four-and-a-half hour flight with no intermission.

Groundhog Day

I love nothing more than to smile
your belly. Like I hate nothing more
than to stand in line to swallow
some coffee—call me on the day
when nameless exits and
your acne clears up. You’re a dick,
you know. Like I love what
never clears up—this human tendency toward
[dreaming] preening. I love nothing
more than to smile your hair
with sunlight.
Tomorrow, when you wake
in unknown air, try not to think of my green eyes.
I love nothing more than to smile my head
into corners of your body. Tomorrow,
when you wake in unknown air,
hold on to what we still hold,
picnic tables and thoughts of
unreachableness. If I could, I’d shrink
myself down to the size of a cigarette
so you could fit me in your crimson handbag.
We fit each other to our hearts and minds
in the form of drugstore candy;
it costs more than it used to, like everything.
If only we could taxidermy our best bodies
so that, when snowballs come engravelled, I
could place you in the center of the room
and stroke your back. You’re so tender,
you’re gonna make me cry, like everything.
Like I love nothing more than the not-alone
of your vowels. Oh, it’s about to rain,
which means it’s time for us to take cover
in our respective shelters. Farewells.
Like I love nothing more than your
your your

Venn Diagram

I don’t believe in phrenology but
sometimes other people’s ideas about
other heads are all I’ve got. So I walk
with a symphony of reportage about the future
of pillows and broken-chaired regret. Pull one up
and lie down on it. If you position the shards with care
they will cradle new fires.
Above, the smoke and leaves distill
whatever’s in the distance, memories, former feelings.
If nothing else, there is the feel of the sun on our backs.
It’s enough to make us sing water.
Once your body breaches the age
of thirty, spring is no longer
a perhaps-hand because, odds are,
you’ve decided on which pair of pants
do good things for you and where
to do your banking.
The ease with which we agree upon hot dogs is reassuring.
And the fact that we can choreograph our mouths
to pretty much any other mouth is sometimes beautiful
and devastating, our mouths encasing a history
of other parts we’d prefer not to think about [read: lips & assholes].
When I was young on Campbell Ave,
my friend Beth fell and scraped her knee.
The parallel scratches beaded with blood.
You smile when you remember
how she made you feel, which sometimes had to do with
other things she’d reveal [read: lips & marbles].
If you have a small hope
walk into a twilit road and toss it overhead.
If there are swallows in the air,
one of them will think: insect.
As it swoops down with the intent of dinner,
you will briefly think: loss. Always
these left-hand swerves into sadness.
What can we do—that’s just how we roll
our marbles and also bisect fractions of numbers.
But there will be no more halving on the menu. We must learn to wean
ourselves of more discrete circles. It all cometh
whole.

Water Wings

According to the Mayan calendar,
no one will be drinking
macchiatos or having sex this year.
But we’re fastened to a boat
feeling buoyant today.
Archimedes felt such things.
Eventually, he pencilled his death
in the sand. Under water, it can
be hard to breathe. I’m afraid
you’re going to have to pull our weight
upstairs where there are no cups,
no spoons, where we worry mostly
about curtains and windows.
My drink doesn’t look as good as yours.
I’m still proud of my body. When I shower,
one of my favorite things is to hold
the bottoms of my feet under the warm
water. Last night I was distracted
by the thought of holding you. When I woke,
below my sheets, that consideration lingered
even though daylight told me not to.
We are low on minutes
from the day we're born. Clocks,
it’s such a good word, although
the object itself is kinda depressing. Still
happy are we who see a man donning Air Jordans in 2012.
His presence is reassuring, a reminder that
some types of love are still for sale and will carry us
across the sidewalk. If only we could rent this giant business of holding.
Giant because it is no small thing, knowing
which wrists might keep us
afloat and who might pull us under.

Piñata Baby

The start of one thing is the means to an end
of candy. But, usually, when the candy ends
we have a hard time talking due to the gummy
residue on our tongues. It is often blue
and lost in the crevice of our forgetting
of certain feelings.
Let’s drink
to the bloodletting, which is best done
by leeches in the form of ex-boyfriends.
Wind blows. Leaves move. You can see their rusty
bellies getting ready to help
them to the ground. The worst kind of candy
is the candy given by people who date
death, even if death is noncommittal and
ponies up to the bar, waiting for winter
to fall.
In a dream last night
a slow Mustang ran over a friend’s baby.
There was no crying over the candy it spilled.
It’s still in the way. Our feelings.
Which we resolve to hoard or give away
when someone knocks. But the knocks become less frequent
as we age, we latch onto our doors like leeches.
It’s hard to be able to look behind
our shoulders to the history of faces,
the long march of those hysterical masks.
We all have or will have one of these. As well as wrinkles,
indicating where smiles have been.
We're in love with and afraid of everything. Especially
the soft knock (knock knock) of
waiting. Impatience is our kryptonite
though we do no changing
phone booths contain nothing
more than dreams we’ve forgotten
and since movies have forgotten
phone booths, that means we’ve forgotten phone
booths. Ergo, the history of phone booths
equals the history of our minds and bodies
unpacked or pushed aside
by the carriage
return of some other technology.

Shrode Heil

Shrode Heil is the collaborative pen name of the writers Shrode Hargis and Kathleen Heil. Shrode’s work has appeared in Bat City Review, Cream City Review, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. Heil’s work has appeared in DIAGRAM, Pear Noir!, and Gigantic, among others. They live in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This is their first published collaboration.