- Birthday, Poetry, Reading, Writing

From the Archives: Three Poems, by Laura Cronk


Happy birthday, Laura Cronk! Celebrate by reading these poems we published on August 12, 2019, and which were subsequently included in Cronk’s Ghost Hour!


What to Eat

The way to be a powerful
forty-year-old woman
is not to eat.

The way to be a powerful
fifty-year-old woman
is to order sparkling water.

The way to be a powerful
forty-five-year-old woman
is to cross your arms
and stand back
when the birthday cake
is passed.

To be incredibly
powerful at twenty,
don’t eat.

At thirty, it helps
not to eat.

At sixty, you can be
powerful not eating.

A seventy-year-old
Italian countess orders
only steamed vegetables
and has a fifty-year-old wife.

Actresses interviewed
for magazine profiles
order steak frites, chowder,
beer, pieces of pie, and coffee,
but we know they don’t eat.

A man, a famous actor
in his fifties, sat with
a journalist at his own
coffee table.

He blinked back
a headache and ate
chopped salad with
oil-free vinaigrette.
His decorative girlfriend
wandered past.

To be powerful and artistic
and a man,
it is good not to eat.

What to eat: almonds soaked
in water for twenty minutes,
rice milk, avocado, fish.

I can see the wonderful things
that would happen for me
if I would not eat.

Just like my sister.

She locked herself
in her room and stayed there
for months.

She had her baby,
gave it away,
and went back
to her room.

She ate only boiled
chicken and apples.
She emerged thin

with just enough suffering
legible on her face
to make her truly beautiful.



I wish I were a priest.
I wish I wore buffalo horns
and an ivory orb
as a mitre on my head.
High holidays and times
of despair—
what to do
and what to wear
unyieldingly glam,
form untraceable
beneath the pooling blue.
I wish I had that far-off look,
holding up a white flag
to the crazed fertility
coming between me
and the great, pure ocean.



The moment when everything
has to be finished
or abandoned.

It can never be finished.
So abandoned.

Everyday, how to quit,
walk out. How to say,
That’s it, I’m leaving.

The light,
it gets sharper
before it gets darker.

Look, the shoes
I wore when I was ten
are on my feet again,

glowing white.
The trees saved up
their color all day

and are throwing it off
while the sky goes gray.

A truckload of yearning
is dropped at my door
each dusk.

The shipment
stacked sharp against
the silk sky.

It’s night’s work
to prepare it, arrange it,
clean it, cook it.

slip into it.


I just want to be pushed
against a wall and kissed
by a drink,

held at the swerving
tip of a green stem.

If pleasure wastes,
uses up,

the thread, unspooled
unable to quite spool again,

I don’t care. I want
to be unspooled
by a drink.

I want the dimmer
switch pressed and turned.

I want the incandescent
light; I want
the privacy of a drink.

I want to pick the meat off
the bone, drag it through
salt, alone.

I want
the taste of oblivion.

In the ghost hour,
when everything
that’s lost

or gone
is really gone,

I want a drink.



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