Two Poems by Natalie Eilbert

Liquid Waste


Again I chew the cud before I waste beneath myself

I sit in a café and pour out. Impartiality of organs twisted

into weird suns. A man I called mentor pushed me forward

on a couch and reached up. When I forward-fold I think

of his hands working his body up, my body working his body

up. I disgust the image. My carriage spills. I came to understand

shame in a bed of marigolds. I stared at a bed of marigolds

as my mother told me of my cousin’s suicide. My feet inched

the black soil, the shame-full yellow faces in each flower.

How cheap to be arranged, plotted, nourished. My carriage

spills. They could never be wild and still radiate shame.

Shame unto shame as oceans unto oceans. Kip strung up

in a room, dead from his bad remains. Marigolds extrude

a fear-full nature. I was so alarmed by my lack of care.

So young I was in my dimension. I was still in death’s

dimension. I boasted to my mother my nonexistence.

Death had yet to show me the shame of being alive. I believed

the impact of my nonexistence carved my existence.

My carriage spills. There was an unspeakable, indistinguishable

knot in this liminal phase. I came to see this as choice. Choice

stroked on a liminal plane. In answer my animal eye

reached through oyster layers toward oil, slime-wet rock

of humanity. And so human form pitied me as I humanly formed.

Marigolds blinked above my origin story. What more

could I be but the texture of blanched skin. Drip.


Liquid Waste


Anne Boyer says on her blog there is no “listening”

to one’s body, which in all circumstances is providing

the wrong information. The doctors plan to cut

my mother’s throat open to remove harmful nodules,

my mother who grew up wanting a penis and no

uncles, no sixties-era rape tactics, no loss of her firstborn.

How will disease be for her how will disease be for me.

I am more lonely than I’ve been since a man held me down

as if to drown me in the lake of his needs, empty pizzaboxes

stacked as though to collect that flattening residue.

Readers balk at the violence of such active sub-pred phrases

when they extend out the body not like verbs but skin

over skin, skin over organs, skin over overactive nodes.

I didn’t want to be a girl like this. The woman-body

glides over my sleeping and drips a syrup in my ear.

My mind is precious. It dreams of removal, as all

precious things wish for somatic omission. Poor fishbones

skull of a mind. My carriage empties. I fear hormones,

how they’ll cut me open to see my fault lines, hypnotize

the kraken of the woman-body gliding me awake.

Yesterday I searched my shoes and remembered.

I remembered a boyfriend who pushed my cheek onto pillows

and told me he removed my clothes better than I could

dress myself. I could dress myself. Out the window, snow.

The abuse of men, they voice their hate of me now

collecting accounts of fibril damage. They say how could you

say I did this. My mom closes my book to banish

her opening throat. When will indifference come,

says Berryman at his father’s tomb. My carriage fills.

It means to draft a letter to all of them, a wet damp scrawl.



NATALIE EILBERT’s debut collection Swan Feast was published this year by Coconut Books. She is the author of two previous chapbooks, Conversation with the Stone Wife (Bloof Books) and And I Shall Again Be Virtuous (Big Lucks Books). Her poems and essays are published or forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Offing, Tin House, Guernica, and elsewhere. Recently a winner of the 2015 Arkadii Dragomoshchenko Prize for Innovative Poetry, she is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.