Sonnets from I Wanna Destroy You


The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave Told she’s dead, we thought it was a joke. Nobody died young then—the empire on hold. Our canines growing in to match our egos. She’d left her violent husband behind; I still had mine. In L.A. she’d been playing auditoriums, iconic bars. Broke, still at the bookstore, my nerves were wire. Fishnet Prufrock, how could I begin? She’d made her talent pay the rent but I was stalled & tuneless, blind to beauty, focused on some gaping craters in the drywall, from his hand. (Even fury starting to look bland.) Pink Turns To Blue Even fury starting to look bland, I left him, after more than one false start. All I kept, two costume hearts: Niagara falling from a thin brass band & a rhinestone broach he stole from his mother at Christmas. He had to give back all her other jewels. The lack of honesty, taste, in that business should have turned me hard, except I loved something about his tongue, his brain— struggle to recall. Some puzzled grace in green eyes, tenderness contained. Soon enough, his sparkle was erased by futile efforts to be tough, adept. Precision Auto His futile efforts to be tough, adept, got him night-shift at a convenience store. He hawked Slim Jims, cigarettes, & swept black & white linoleum before he caught the 5:14 back to our flat. We’d overlap a few short hours on a mattress on the floor, an agate- eyed, petulant tabby gouging tours across our throats at dawn. Car alarms on Huntington went off like clockwork. Griefs we gave ourselves were worse than harms our neighborhood supplied, though some poor jerk stole our Corolla. We stole it back from the project’s lot, fueled by a fifth of Jack. Wave of Mutilation From the project’s lot, fueled by a fifth of Jack, god knows what graveyards we got into: Boston’s corpus sprawling thickly sown, the North End’s Puritan tabs & moderns & the military’s myriad teeth: gravestones sprout to flip myth upside down. My man was all for death’s erotic track till morning sickness brought a view of suburbs we’d fled from— minor terrors, endless dull concerns of raising kids on paltry funds, relief too mean, the two of us half-grown. I was clear about our family’s chance: crept home from the clinic while he danced. Five Stop Mother Superior Rain Home from the clinic while he danced, I wondered who’d come to know or give a fuck about it. Kept religiously for years, the secret was a blow to Sara when I finally told her, but she hated it for love of me, not for faith, not to shore up some dry- rot shrine to patriarchy. His folks were different, his mom a fan of Christian verses. The local fundamentalist was her boss, church a Leviathan of antebellum glare. The Pentecost descended there each Sunday to counter the college on the corner.

KATHLEEN WINTER is the author of I will not kick my friends (2018), winner of the Elixir Poetry Prize, and Nostalgia for the Criminal Past, which won the Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush Memorial Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Republic, New Statesman, Agni, Cincinnati Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner and Poetry London. She was granted fellowships by Sewanee Writers’ Conference, James Merrill House, Dora Maar House, Cill Rialaig Project, and Vermont Studio Center. Her awards include the Poetry Society of America The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award, and the Ralph Johnston Fellowship at University of Texas’s Dobie Paisano Ranch.