Krystal Languell

Text

 

PUNISHMENT METED OUT

 

 

my grandmother: no contact for five years

 

my aunt: no contact for eight years

 

my biological grandmother: no contact for 12 years

 

her partner died and in the obituary, my cousins were listed but not my sister or me or our parents

 

the grandmother moved to North Carolina in the 90s and said the black people there were more respectful

 

periodically she tattooed her eyeliner and brows

 

when we saw my aunt at my grandfather’s funeral she said, “I hate being divorced”

 

a few years later we found her husband’s mug shot online

 

no contact for eight years

 

wanted for three years

 

he fled the state of South Carolina when he was due in court on charges of child rape

 

my parents’ best friends: no contact in several years

 

since they divorced and the husband cited her son’s black girlfriend and her black children as a reason

 

the wife moved to Belgium and remarried

 

she’d worked in a cardboard factory previously

 

she’d drive to Walkerton to pick up her grandchild

 

the husband had sometimes been drunk enough to piss himself

 

the husband had told me that if I were to plan a marriage, he must approve the groom

 

this is just one side and some friends

 

a handful of dead ends

 

her boss stole from the homeless shelter

 

he faked sales receipts on donated cars for decades

 

she photocopied years’ worth and kept them at home

 

he’s dead now

 

she was afraid he would burn down their house if she leaked it

 

my sister lost four friends to suicide

 

and referred to loss in a mock interview, & the counselor thought she meant ‘friends moving away for
college’

 

our grandmother had an address book with a ✓ next to people to notify of her death

 

we didn’t get a ✓

 

Do I think anyone will see the poems?

 

No, I don’t think anyone will see the poems

 

a white girl touched me with her toes

 

she was barefoot with her feet up in Latin Sports Club

 

I recoiled

 

I decide against responding when my aunt sends me a message

 

“Why, because they’re acting like vultures?”

 

you can punish your family after you die

 

you can punish anyone

 

I used to ride in the Escalade with my aunt’s ex-husband

 

he took me to a property he bought in Myrtle Beach

 

a young man had set his girlfriend’s clothes on fire, then the fire got out of hand

 

she moved back in with her parents

 

in the condo, I looked through her burnt things

 

he was turned on by the smoke smell

 

by the neighbor watching us, clipping his toenails outside

 

I liked his money and I wanted him to like me

 

he watched me notice a ceramic dolphin & told me I could take anything I wanted

 

I touched it, I didn’t take it

 

message boards about his crimes teach me his family is rich on owning trailer parks

 

money never not dirty

 

dirty never not worse than dirt

 

when he sold the red Suburban, he printed a new title off the internet

 

his friend came over to look at my x-rays while I puked percocet into a sand bucket in his bed

 

he should have let me go

 

what happened happened

 

am I afraid of anyone?

 

yeah, I’m afraid of a few people

 

as a child I was warned about airing dirty laundry

 

(it’s probably not the people you would guess)

 

another poem about corruption

 

a stranger told me I was lucky to get out alive

 

I am lucky to be alive, but I am pretending to be dead

 

or I am pretending they are dead

 

you can punish your family before you die, too

 

he cut her face with a car key

 

she hid in the closet

 

my biological grandmother had a daycare with her partner on U.S. 31 for a while

 

they wore similar flannels & mock turtlenecks, not matchy-matchy

 

north of Indianapolis: not Carmel and not Meridian Street

 

my mom drove us to visit one summer and it was boarded up

 

she used to call my parents’ landline and leave a voicemail every few years

 

she’d say “It’s been a terrible year” and not leave a callback number

 

“Everybody’s shit stinks,” my sister wise-asses

 

No contact

 

No contact

 

No funeral

 

No obituary

 

No future

 

No contact

 

No ✓

 

No