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Madisen Kuhn Aug 11
This time next week, I hope I will be breathing the air that I’ve been gasping for. I didn’t realize that four months could feel like four broken bones, two arms, two legs, all secretly cracked, only felt under the weight of my own invisible dread. It’s okay that I went back to being sixteen for awhile. It’s not what I wanted, what I planned for, but it’s what happened. I woke up with butterflies in my stomach and the rug ripped out from under me. My car sits in the driveway and I don’t drink coffee anymore because it makes me shake and I don’t know how to handle the shaking like I used to. I never used to worry about sharing drinks yet today I’ve washed my hands fifteen times and still don’t trust them. But it’s August and I’m twenty-three again. Or at least I will be when the key slides into the lock and I take that big gulp and pray for it to add a few years back that were taken away this summer. Everything is a circle cut in half, alternating between hollow and whole, snaking through time with hysterical pseudo endings and beginnings that are really just doors leading down a different hallway in the same ******* infinite hotel. Sometimes Wes Anderson’s, sometimes The Shining. I don’t have to listen to the yelling for the rest of my life if I don’t want to. I don’t have to be so unhappy if I don’t want to. Maybe next Saturday I will drive to the coffee shop on the corner and order something decaf and sugary and thank god that it’s over. It’s over. *******. The leaves will be turning orange soon. I almost forgot.
Madisen Kuhn Jun 24
i want to write about you
but i think it might be too soon

i am stopped on the cracked cement
next to a small but necessary park
in the middle of it all

there are hundreds of thousands of windows
shut tightly to keep the cool air in

the only chickens for miles
are being served up on plates
between college roommates
and lovers who find the city
more romantic than any
vague resemblance of a kiss
exchanged quickly on a narrow step
but still, i carry around my wicker basket
packed with old egg cartons
and carefully folded tea towels

i memorize the feeling of tired eyes that won’t look away
of how warm it is inside my bedroom with the door closed
tracing your outline in the dark

until the soft orange light of morning
paints every shadowy corner

until i have found myself feral
deep in a dark blue thicket
somewhere between you and the trees
does this make sense to anyone but me
Madisen Kuhn Jun 1
i was riding in the passenger seat
down a meandering stretch of back road
where the mountains look
like watercolors
when i realized that
your arms feel safer
than my own mother’s

(i am afraid of what that means)

i still fall asleep
in your old heather grey t-shirt
still think of you
every time i pull a sundress
over my head

(i am afraid of what that means)

the braids in my hair
the buzzing in my chest
the left side of the bed
the small, persistent voice inside
telling me to keep going

are somehow
in some measure
still yours

(i am
in some measure
still yours)
Madisen Kuhn May 27
at night, i dream of sun-drenched eggshell walls
baking in the morning like yukon gold potatoes
where we wake unbothered by the encroaching light
i’ll meet you in the kitchen to switch on the toaster oven
the coffee ***, pulling our ceramic mugs from the drying rack
carrying our books with bent covers to the balcony
where you set down thick slices of french bread slathered in butter
and a bowl of fresh, cold strawberries on a small round table
that we found at a sunday yard sale two summers ago
we take turns taking crisp bites in between sips of steaming coffee
mine with raw honey and cream, yours black
our oily thumbs staining the corners of thin ivory pages
i listen to the sound of you reading; of the world waking up
birds singing their sunrise songs; and my heart
slow, and buoyant, and irrevocably yours
Madisen Kuhn May 3
the truth is

i cannot be contained like that

i cannot be taught to like water 
more than cranberry juice

i cannot pretend for decades upon decades

(years like soft footprints and malnourished
buzzards circling who i really am;
the whimsical part of me
decaying like neglected cavities)

that i enjoy self-discipline and growing muscle

i cannot cook healthy dinners 
and go to sleep at reasonable hours

i will not wake up one morning
and be everything that you hoped for me to be

i tried holding myself very still for a while
i tried to like doing what i’m supposed to

and maybe i will someday

but it won’t be because i loved you
Madisen Kuhn Apr 28
i bump into the thought
that i don’t really care
about anything

not school
not being pretty
or healthy, or better.

when you wipe off
the good girl cosplay
the soft peach blush
and the freckles
and the lip gloss

the straight a’s
and the sweet potatoes
and the self-discipline

you will find a wild thing
dancing around
in her underwear
drinking iced coffee
for lunch and
doing nothing but
writing and reading
and abandoning any
semblance of sanity

completely consumed
by all the things
i shouldn’t be.

and when i have
destroyed everything
around me
with my negligence
and delusion

when the decent ones
have seen themselves out

when there is nothing
left inside of me

there will always be poetry.
from my third collection of poetry, ALMOST HOME, out in October. pre-order now:
Madisen Kuhn Apr 24
i am waiting for my coffee
i am the old couple eating pastries
with their chairs turned towards the window
i am the wafting scent of musk and amber
i am the bright magenta trees lining route 240
blooming in april while it rains
i am the veiny hands i know nothing about
except that i wish they would touch me
i am gulping down the foam
tasting the bittersweet memories on my tongue
the ones that have yet to happen
i am remembering what it means to have teeth
to feel so different, so distant
but entirely the same
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