“three questions” by Caitlyn Siehl

My mother tells me
that when I meet someone I like,
I have to ask them three questions:

1. what are you afraid of?
2. do you like dogs?
3. what do you do when it rains?

of those three, she says the first one is the most important.
“They gotta be scared of something, baby. Everybody is. If they aren’t afraid of anything, then they don’t believe in anything, either.”

I met you on a Sunday, right
after church.
one look and my heart fell into
my stomach like a trap door.

on our second date,
I asked you what you were afraid of.
“spiders, mostly. being alone. little children, like, the ones who just learned how to push a kid over on the playground. oh and space. holy shit, space.”
I asked you if you liked dogs.
“I have three.”
I asked you what you do when it rains.
“sleep, mostly. sometimes I sit at the window and watch the rain droplets race. I make a shelter out of plastic in my backyard for all the stray animals; leave them food and a place to sleep.”

he smiled like he knew.
like his mom told him the same
“how about you?”

I’m scared of everything.
of the hole in the o-zone layer,
of the lady next door who never
smiles at her dog,
and especially of all the secrets
the government must be breaking
it’s back trying to keep from us.
I love dogs so much, you have no idea.
I sleep when it rains.
I want to tell everyone I love them.
I want to find every stray animal and bring them home.
I want to wake up in your hair
and make you shitty coffee
and kiss your neck
and draw silly stick figures of us.
I never want to ask anyone else
these questions
ever again.

“In the Kitchen” by Caitlyn Siehl

You make me think of Joni Mitchell.
Of red wine and dancing on tiled floor with my hands up, like I’ve surrendered
to the rhythm of my body when it
is singing about you.
You make me think of sun dresses
and citrus and rose oil.
I peel fruit and it is exactly like saying
your name, so I don’t wash my hands
and I touch you until we both smell like tangerines, until we’re sticky with it.
On a Saturday that is not this one,
I will go for a walk while the sun yawns, and everything will turn quiet.
It will be a small moment, I can promise you that, and it will take me to you.
Somewhere with a big kitchen and brick walls.
You will be cutting an onion with a butter knife and I will be
drinking Merlot out of a coffee cup while you cook,
and Joni will be singing in that aching way she does, like she’s got all the time in the world to fall apart.
Here, you will be the voice inside my talk of forever.
Here, you will be the open window and the sway of my skirt in the wind.
Here, you will kiss my stained mouth until it is its own sun
and every word is golden.

– Caitlyn Siehl, “In the Kitchen” (via alonesomes)

“Riddles” by Caitlyn Siehl

If the battle is over but everyone is
dead, how do you know it’s over?
Who decides?
What came first, humans or despair?
Did it crawl inside of us or did
we crawl inside of it?
It’s warm where the flesh,
which is yours, meets
the mistake, which is an open mouth
on the bed in your dorm room,
tongue like a serpent,
like something lost and frantic.
If you keep going, will it settle down?
These are the hard questions.
What do you call a punchline
when there isn’t a joke for it?
Why did the chicken cross the road
and why didn’t you?
How many licks does it take
to get to the center of the loneliness?
Yes, the tree still makes a sound,
and yes, you will still want to
disappear even if no one is around to
snap you out of it.
Listen to all the cars screeching
to a halt outside of your window.
Listen to the engines rumbling softly.
Listen to how they are all saying
“Get through this. Get through this.”
When does being brave not look like being brave?
When is the princess not a princess?
When is the hero not a hero?
Who cares. Save yourself.
Fuck the story.

– Caitlyn SiehlRiddles

Caitlyn Siehl is the author of What We Buried.

“Her, Her, Her” by Caitlyn Siehl

She is a year ago.
She is the ache in the empty,
the first time you changed your mind
and the last time you were sorry about it.
She is a city sleeping beside you,
warm and vast and familiar, streetlights
yawning and stretching,
and you have never. You have never.
You have never loved someone like this.
She is your first stomach ache.
Your first panic attack and your
favorite cold shower.
A mountain is moving somewhere
inside of you, and her handprints are all over it.
Here. Here. Here, you love her.
In the fractured morning, full of
too tired and too sad, she is the first
foot that leaves the bed.
She is the fight in you, the winning
and the losing battle
floating like a shipwreck in your chest.
When they ask you what your favorite moment is,
You will say Her.
You will always say Her.

~ Caitlyn Siehl, “Her, Her, Her”

“The Poem to End All Poems” by Caitlyn Siehl

If I had to write a poem to end all poems,
it would be the word ‘lonely’
in every language.
It would ask for nothing,
only echo, echo, cry, then sleep.
Please don’t make me write it.
Don’t make me be honest.
Not after all this time, all this
gorgeous pretending.
I have finally spun a story that doesn’t
look like a failure,
and all I want to do is stay in it.
All I want to do is keep singing.
Let me stay in this kingdom without
a name.
The one I made.
Let me sit with my tin crown on my makeshift throne.
Let me do all of it.
Let me fight.
Let me be the dragon and the
spear that kills it.
I would very much like to be both.

Caitlyn Siehl, The Poem to End All Poems