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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Concentrate and Ask Again; Someone is Watching the Microphone; I’M BAD TOO

By: Andie Francis

Concentrate and Ask Again

When we leave the kitchen, our cat

licks a stick of butter. And some

where in the freezer is a casserole 

made from the same butter. Each

Thursday, my lover, in his pajamas, 

tows our garbage can to the curb 

moments before the truck arrives, and 

from the shower, I watch our baby inch 

toward the edge of his bouncer. The

less we sleep, the less we look out 

for one another. I, for one, admit

I cannot keep my eyes open long 

enough to turn the volume down 

when the movie gets violent or to save 

laundry from the line at the first 

sign of rain. Exhausted, I demand

more from the world we inhabit. 

Please take it, whatever today’s “it” 

is, and let me know how many hours

you can do so. Exhausted, I wait

in my closet for an adult version

of myself to appear. If I am lucky, 

she will, and up she goes to respond

to the next small disaster. I cry into

my limp sweater. If I am unlucky, 

I’ll instead yell at my lover,

and the “it” that will be tomorrow’s,

if this one is not resolved.

Someone is Watching the Microphone

backyard Airstream 

wears the glint of morning—

a bathrobe reminds me

I am an act, a lip sync 

human with enough 

hairbrush, more 

all ya gotta do’s

to convince the day 

I won’t need a guardrail.

I will not be your bucket 

of pulp today with each

angled glance in the mirror. 

Eyebrows sing hug me,

squeeze me. Cheeks can 

play more homemaker than 

wrecker. It is myth that lets 

us forget our own creature.

So what if I am really the cause 

of a dirtied flag? An empty 

propane tank I’d better

goddamn explain. I, too, 

am here to get my soul 

known again, to see how far 

rear-views will take me.


In a spectrum of self, today I am 

indistinguishable. Because of today, I go in 

sequins (whatever color you want 

them to be). Choose a drink

I’d like to swim in. If bees want to,

they will. It is a sad thing, the bees, 

don’t you think? San Francisco 

didn’t save me. Until then, I glare out 

anyone’s eyes that say so, anyone 

that pigeon-necks me. Third-person 

listening has got to stop. Bumblebees

carry pollen in their baskets. A bee can 

share half her weight. King Tut wore 

gold sequins to his tomb. Beset until 

the end. Except there wasn’t an end 

for the ancients or for Michael. I’m Bad

with you, these platelets I wear say. Look at

me, backstroking in fucken shine.


Andie Francis is the author of the chapbook I Am Trying to Show You My Matchbook Collection (CutBank Books 2015). She holds an MFA in poetry from The University of Arizona and is an assistant poetry editor for DIAGRAM. Francis's work appears in Berkeley Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Greensboro Review and elsewhere.

"Concentrate and Ask Again" came out of an anxiety attack I had in my walk-in closet a couple of months into motherhood. I'd say it's a comment on the utter exhaustion one feels as a new parent, and the potential minor and major hazards that might come along with that. The closet was a space to invoke a lifeline, an 'adult' version of myself or some higher power, but it also became a space to mourn an 'old me' that wasn't sleep-deprived and feeling alone.

"Someone Is Watching the Microphone" is orbiting the idea of 'faking it' to get through a day, or even a phase in life. Sometimes an 'act' becomes a way to survive, and/or a way to empower one's self, as is the case in this poem. I used Woody Guthrie's song, "All Ya Gotta Do Is Touch Me," as a way to enter the poem. For me, Guthrie's song is about feeling alive (and what it might take to get and keep that way of being), and I think the poem's speaker is hoping for the same thing.

"I'm Bad Too" is an associative poem that started with my thoughts about sequins and why people wear them. I have owned a 1980's sequined tuxedo belt for about 15 years, and over the course of those years, I've busted it out on days where I've needed a pick-me-up. I wanted to consider mindset as it connects to mental health, and how fashion could play into that. Somehow the poem moved into bees too, probably because the bee-decline was in the news a lot when I was writing, and honey became really expensive. I wanted to see if I could ping-pong bees and sequins in a poem. This is that attempt.


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