Kelli Russell Agodon

Two Poems | Kelli Russell Agodon
January 28, 2016 Agodon Kelli Russell

Tequila Sunrise Waltz with Heart Murmur


When you say no worries what you mean is,
you’re welcome. It’s a high tide with a riptide
and the lifeguard at your beach has yet

to take swimming lessons. Someone
will throw you a life vest a size too small.
No worries. You tell me the man with weak

heart doesn’t understand there’s a sand dune
you want to lay him down in. You think
the man is charming because he keeps

a murmur behind his ribs, a sigh beneath his lungs.
Right now, as you fantasize about the man
and his heart, bills are being placed

in your mailbox. Even though you tried harder
this month. Right now, someone is thinking
of going under and someone else is standing

on a bridge because falling seems easier
than failing. One letter. Maybe that letter
is a bill, or a summons, or a note from the past

saying that boy you slept with once is dying. No
worries. But this is what I like about you—
the world is untethered in a universe

with unplanned meteors and you fantasize
about a man you don’t want to kill
by way of orgasm. The sun is on fire

on your back. The man you want to sleep with
is ordering a coke from a bar with a straw roof.
Your home has been invaded by flies

and carpenter ants. But the view from beneath
your bent sunhat has more blue than clouds,
and you think about his heart a little more—

you’re welcome—decide it’s worth the chance.



Aging Waltz with Retirement Planning as Cigarette Smoke


You are blowing smoke rings like small hazy
moons across the table. Taking your breath
and turning it into a satellite, a ringless planet.

I want to place my hand on your thigh
or your lips. It’s hard to decide where creation
comes from—the place where exhaling

becomes a fogbank, or the quiet place
where breath begins. You are opening up
a brochure of places we could travel to. . .

as a group. I tell you I dislike people and all
of their complexities. I tell you they will hate you
because you smoke in public and speak loudly

when you swear. Sometimes when I look at you,
I imagine you naked in a bowtie, a birthday suit
tuxedo, but I do not tell you this. What I tell you

is we have five years to get our act together,
that our dog’s acupuncture and laser treatment
will cause us to be the old couple who can’t afford

a decent home. You blow smoke rings at the cat
and I exaggerate my sense of desperation.
I am young enough to know we still have some

life yet, but old enough to know we are dying
for a little foreplay. Promise me you won’t forget
our youth. Promise me you won’t continue to create

our future universe out of smoke.


Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of four collections of poetry. Her newest book is Dialogues with Rising Tides published by Copper Canyon Press. Kelli is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer. She lives in a sleepy seaside town in Washington State on traditional lands of the Chimacum, Coast Salish, S’Klallam, and Suquamish people where she is an avid paddleboarder and hiker. She teaches at Pacific Lutheran University’s low-res MFA program, the Rainier Writing Workshop. /