Visitor; Self Portrait as Comic Relief; Counter Café
By: Emmy Schroeder
I was a quiet boy,
or so I thought
I spent the days
living in my dreams
& at night a girl
would visit. This
every so often
in my dreams
she would ask why
are you frightened?
& I would answer
in my thoughts
(which can be heard)
Has it always been
Self Portrait as Comic Relief
My home is the laughter of a goat
facing slaughter & my dysphoria is a bladder
desperate to be empty an abandoned swing
left in motion.
You chased cishet beauty standards w/ Ambien & vodka
Trauma builds a nest; it burrows
into ribs into air pockets of cartilage—
a living composition
You went to jail the day you turned seventeen
I witnessed a woman (who was incarcerated)
raped two thousand times in a men’s prison—
her shaven hair cascading possibilities
sinking into the current of applause.
You smelled the roses as they passed you by—
a million incandescent bulbs exploding in the sky
I understand why you killed yourself—
the pain is immediate
& the relief comes quickly.
I’m sitting on a barstool
at the café counter
peering through a glass barrier.
The Chef is cracking jokes
like eggs into the stove pan.
He lays the strips of bacon
on the stovetop grill,
out of respect for the pig.
Emmy Schroeder is a queer trans poet. Her interests include (but are not limited to): fitting her belongings into a suitcase and watching music videos on Youtube. She received her undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Heliopause Magazine, Screen Door Review, The Stirling Spoon, and Aura Arts Review.
Interview with the Poet:
Cathexis Northwest Press: How long have you been writing poetry?
Emmy Schroeder: I've been writing poetry for about four years. I started writing poetry during an "Intro to Poetry" course my sophomore year of undergrad.
CNP: Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?
ES: I'm not sure which specific poem I read that made me fall in love with poetry. The first two poets I remember reading that had a lasting effect on me were Edna St. Vincent Millay and Langston Hughes. I fell in love with the lyrical nature of their poetry.
CNP: Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?
ES: Currently, my favorite poets are Ocean Vuong, Christopher Soto, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, and torrin a. greathouse. Specifically, I like the poems "Aubade With Burning City," by Ocean Vuong, "Los Padrinos Juvenile Detention Center, Unit Y2," by Christopher Soto, "Birthday Suits," by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, and "ON RE-LACING MY SHOES," by torrin a. greathouse. I also enjoy reading Millay 24/7. My favorite Millay poems are "Afternoon on a Hill" and "Departure."
CNP: Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?
ES: I've found that my words tend to find me the most when I'm fully engaged with some other medium. I'll visit art exhibits, take a walk, listen to music, cook dinner, etc. Basically, I just do something that isn't writing. I'll pull out my notebook or my phone and write down anything that comes to mind when it does. I've learned to focus on my sentences and trust where they are headed without thinking ahead because I feel as though our brains do that naturally.
CNP: How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?
ES: I like hearing the form of the poem, if that makes sense. My poems usually start out as prose and then I'll make line breaks and create form afterwards. It usually involves lines and arrows. My notebooks look like someone went through my writing and decided to confuse it. I've lately been writing poems in the margins of books that I'm reading.
CNP: Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?
ES: I still struggle with my voice. It's infuriating. My advice to poets is that when you write, think of your audience as one person who needs to hear you. I've been lost in this world many times and a poem has saved me more than once. Be fearless!
CNP: What is your editing process like?
ES: Some poems I strip down, rewrite, break apart, and put back together. It's a lot of trial and error. Some poems I barely edit. Most of the time, I'm subtracting lines rather than adding them, but not always.
CNP: When do you know that a poem is finished?
ES: It's hard to say when a poem feels finished. When you can read it out loud and not cringe. You never know until you know. I sure don't.