Four Poems

Erin McIntosh

Photo Credit: Susan Smith/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Photo Credit: Susan Smith/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

deep sleep / the curse

The spindle is a turn on. Just imagine—
one hundred years of sleep. Nobody entering
your home or your body. What kind of world,
when peace is brought on only by
wishful thinking and resentful godmothers.

When I was little and cried at night over
some small tragedy my mother would tell me
hush, you have to get your beauty sleep.
Tracing purple half-moons that grew
under my eyes from laying awake yet
another night. I left a light on in an attempt
to convince myself of monsters under the bed,
but I always knew I was alone.

Later I was older and when my father came
to say goodnight he would ask whether
I’d remembered to wash my face. Pointing
toward pinkish half-moons that grew like poppies
across the field of my face, motioning to
a magazine cover and saying I’ll bet she does.
I left off hugging him back, wiping my face
when he kissed me and growing quiet when
he told me he loved me.

The heroine in a new film I see has bags
under her eyes and makeup sort of covering
her puffy face and for a moment I think
What a revelation. Nobody telling her no.
I wait for something bad to befall her and when
it inevitably does I feel a connection to this
godmotherless girl. In the end though there is
a dance montage and of course a prince and this
has always been my problem with stories
like these: I can understand when things
go wrong but I never buy the ending.


the move

Mops, an old couch, stretched
black garbage bags: move them
to the curb. Scrub the sink
one last time. Don’t think
how you came to be here.
The signs have always been
straightforward: everyone must go.
Everything is leaving now.
All remembrance is a lie,
and a naughty one at that.
Photographs get passed
around. I don’t know why
we do it. Afraid we might miss
out, we might choose the wrong
fork. Eeny meeny miny moe.
Eyes closed, breath held, fingers
crossed, prayers whispered.
Nothing is as bad as all that, but
just in case it is, precautions
must be taken. Stars must be
charted. Maps used to take ages
to fold, now they’re obsolete.
What’s next? —hamburgers?
bookstores? Certainly not
chain smoking, not actors.
What would we do without
those who understand
how to play the part?


The August Notebooks, ii (Los Angeles, 2015)

Or how
every time I watch a romantic comedy
I feel alone. I am sitting in my apartment
eating linguine with puttanesca sauce
like the Baudelaires, and that old song
called “Gravity” comes on: something always
brings me back to you. Except for all the times
there was no you. I scroll through my phone
and find no one to simply call.

Nothing is
simple, not like cleaning yourself and dressing
in shorts and a sweater, walking to your
neighborhood cinema and paying eight dollars
to watch other people laugh and cry and
fall in love. I start to make up a story to explain
why I am alone, but none of it is true. To write
is to live a solitary kind of life. This is why
I choose acting over authorship every time.


I cannot say

There will always be words I feel
I cannot say. There will always be
memories I wish to hide from. Open
highways are sometimes cures for this,
as are haircuts, oceans, cruise lines.
Stop telling me what you want
to know. There is nothing to say.
I don’t want you to know about
the things I refuse to write about:
the night in the house on Crenshaw
when my body wouldn’t allow you in
or the night I wanted a girl who wanted
me and yet she chose somebody else.
How it felt to sit outside the bathroom door
with the two of them in there together,
and I not even able to drive home,
my stomach too full of beer to stand.

pencilErin McIntosh is a writer and actress currently living in Los Angeles. Her poetry has appeared and is forthcoming in various online publications including Bone Bouquet, Lavender Review and Speak Easy Mag. Email: erinmariemcintosh[at]

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