Karolina Zapal

Baby Buttface

Baby short for Baby Buttface rides the cis-Siberian railway         she’s maybe twenty-two-years-old usually makes it up on the spot and often asks in a crowd so which one of you artists will be designing my next tattoo? contracting anyone who dares to pay attention
       when Baby becomes involved with a home a feeling arises         the kind of feeling that festers at a wedding         a sprig of jealousy a pinch of gratitude a handful of reserve         all dependent on who gets involved with the feeling
       when Baby returns home        home breaks
into a whisper walk faster—the nest you’re meant to occupy is forever a step ahead she joins the birding association they give her binoculars        still she cannot see
anything fly         for Baby the feeling’s mutual
her subconscious vomits         what she has is not enough and what she can have is no more         the cis-Siberian does not cross anything rather un-crosses the letters t and x which when uncrossed become 1 and /
       when home returns to Baby it’s usually in a dream a literature a childhood state no one here cooks up a decent wage         Baby feels indifferent to possession         if something is inside of her is it possessing her or does she possess it         a room licks her fingers erotically throws a BDSM-themed party for every theme
       when Baby seeks home she is reminded of a light with a cord too short to reach the plug
what will it take to lengthen her name back to Buttface         across the street is a children’s home but she cannot reach it         the home itself doesn’t feel seeked because nothing can feel seeked until it’s found         fortunately a home if it’s a house will stand still        it’s her responsibility to found it
       when home seeks Baby it must rearrange the tracks to trans-         a gut feeling is just a gut job
a home with people already inside will not find Baby
Baby needs space for her fingernails to grow without skin from a body folding into their beds
       when Baby finds herself wanted she feels like an empty red tub inside a larger white tub filled with water         everything is dirty even the claw foot went for a walk on the railroad stopped when it came to perpendicularly-set tracks         Baby and home
        when a child becomes involved with a home it’s not a matter of what comes first         it’s a matter of if eggs can fly

I Customize My Mother on the Highway

I summarize (customize) my mother on the highway.
We are tired        staring at violet barcode.
An artist doesn’t have a dressing room. Stuffy words
I plan on opening the zipper.
Amethyst hardest intercom.

An artist portrays in a way we can’t understand.
Her profile becomes the only face I want to search
on the internet. A cheek of moonlight
on the road breaks off
in my eye. Amethyst rally ukulele custard.

English is my second
excuse for not engaging with the artist
but if I bet I can understand more than the average person…

what does that say about the artist?
What does that say about understanding
an average person?

Sting fish beaconed
discourse in ten gauges wifeist
Uzbekistan horror the verge unseen…

My eyelids swallow navy
fleeting gray. She blinks it away
brave-driving. An artist is a cactus caught inside a glass
with in-grown needles
growing anywhere but up.

The glass is caught inside the artist.
It spans the entire novel. Those who understand art
understand it’s a performance.

The paramedics come.

They complain about a mother
whom they continuously have to bandage.
I agree but
know what they mean but
she always says sorry.

Because sometimes, she still buys me tampons
for the artist to take an invisible step forward.

“Sukienka” is prettier than dress. Up to the throat
where it cuts off. Then there’s a crash
hair gets caught under a heel
and her understanding pops in.

Nothing is permanent in the exit row
not even flight.

Karolina Zapal is an itinerant poet, essayist, translator, and author of Polalka (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018). Her second book, Notes for Mid-Birth, is forthcoming from Inside the Castle in late 2019. She is collaborating with the poet CA Conrad on translating their book, The Book of Frank, into Polish. Born in Poland and raised in the United States, she wonders about lost cities and impenetrable borders.