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Kron Vollmer Teaches Me the Secret of Life

by Karen Pittelman

The first time we meet,

you’ve been forced to flee your apartment

due to carbon monoxide poisoning—

 

But not before choosing

the month’s signature color

and then grabbing 

only clothes that match

so as to remain stylish in exile.

 

You peer at me 

from under a regal fur hat

and say:

Do you think there is nothing to be done?

 

There is never

nothing to be done.

 

First of all,

there is dancing.

The way the arc of a wrist

can lift even

the heaviest flesh.

 

There is Barbara Streisand

and the specific holidays

on which one should

honor her.

 

If these borders

are not the right borders,

then declare your own.

 

Issue a new national currency,

set your own rate of exchange.

 

Attend to the tiny mysteries:

 

The tv switching on by itself

to your favorite film,

 

The butterflies mistaking your

father’s bright golf pants

for flowers.

 

Choose a wig

to keep your look timeless.


Plot a lifetime eyeglass plan

for ever-larger frames

until your whole face fits

behind enormous lenses.

 

If it is winter,

be crowned in this fur cap.

 

If it is spring,

we will swirl

in novelty print skirts.

 

And if you are starving,

there is always the forest

 

Where we must learn 

to forage for delight,

 

Where even the deadliest mushroom

may also be exquisite.

Karen’s poetry has been published in Bodega, Sunday Salon, Keyhole, Machine Dreams, and New World Writing among others. She is the author of Classified: How to Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use It for Social Change from Soft Skull Press while also being a singer-songwriter for the queer country band Karen & the Sorrows. Her third album, Guaranteed Broken Heart, was recently featured in Rolling Stone, Billboard, NPR, and the BBC. Currently, she resides in Brooklyn where she works as a writing coach.

"Spillage" by Nisha Atalie

Artworks by Michael Reich