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
wears the glint of morning—
a bathrobe reminds me
I am an act, a lip sync
human with enough
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.
I’M BAD TOO
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.