"An Erasure of Leigh Chadwick's Poem 'Utah Is a Documentary'" and "An Erasure of Leigh Chadwick's Poem 'The Last Poet Writes the Last Poem Before the World Ends'"

An Erasure of Leigh Chadwick’s Poem “Utah Is a Documentary”

Out west, saints climb ladders. Depending on who you ask, the ladders are either tall or heaven is low. Sometimes it’s always morning. You ask me to follow you home. I love you. Your words. The snow hasn’t melted yet, and I haven’t been outside since I was told I could go outside. Everything is safe, the talking heads say, but I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to know. There are so many questions I want to ask: Am I still allowed to laugh? Are people still upset about straws? Are you still allowed to laugh? What I really want to know is why there aren’t enough lips to kiss what we’ve lost. You don’t answer your phone anymore. I’ve stopped caring about the way people smell. My mental health tells me stories around the campfire in the middle of my bedroom. Thunder sutures itself through my spine. The sky coughs flakes of dandruff. I dream I pull your teeth, rest my head on your decaying chest. I wake up a decade of lust. I wake up blank. I wake up dressed in a robe that makes my skin smell like wildflowers. It’s Tuesday. You would never be here. I go into the kitchen and put on a pot of tea.



An Erasure of Leigh Chadwick’s poem “The Last Poet Writes the Last Poem Before the World Ends”

I never invite my nightmares over for dinner, but they show up anyway. They come carrying boxed wine. They eat all the dessert. They lick their plates clean. Sometimes my nightmares are an entire season of mud, but sometimes they’re nothing but empty clouds drowning in dusk. Regardless of their weather, the nightmares tell me the same thing. They tell me I will be the last poet who will write the last poem before the world ends. They tell me the last poem will be composed minutes before the world ends. They tell me that the last poem will be pretty good but not great, and that in the penultimate stanza I will write, Here’s 2020. Fuck the moon and fuck the birds. And here’s 2021, too. And here’s a monster sweating Axe Body Spray. The nightmares tell me that after finishing the last poem, I will black out from drinking all the boxed wine they brought over the night before, and that, hours later, I will wake up covered in mud, my head throbbing, my mouth a sandstorm. They tell me I will consider grabbing a couple of Tylenol from the medicine cabinet, but it won’t matter because minutes later I will be dead.



Leigh Chadwick is the author of the poetry collection Your Favorite Poet (Malarkey Books, 2022), the collaborative poetry collection Too Much Tongue (Autofocus, 2022), co-written with Adrienne Marie Barrios, and Sophomore Slump (Malarkey Books, 2023). Her poetry has appeared in Salamander, Passages Identity TheoryThe Indianapolis ReviewPithead Chapel, and CLOVES Literary, among others. She is the executive editor of Redacted Books and is also a regular contributor at Olney Magazine, where she conducts the "Mediocre Conversations" interview series. Leigh recommends Sandy Hook Promise.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 - 22:02