Poem of the Week | August 30, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “How to Live to Among the Buzzing” by Kelli Russell Agodon!

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. www.agodon.com / www.twosylviaspress.com


How to Live to Among the Buzzing

When I complain the spirits are tossing their drinks
in my face, you ask me if they are in tuxedos
or jeans. I say strong perfume and uncomplicated
hair. I say aprons and silver halos. And when I find
the honey spilled in the pantry closet, I wonder
how many bees died this year and when you joke
you want to name your punk band Colony Collapse,
I think how we use humor to rub out being terrified,
like when a neighbor’s pesticides made every fat leaf
fall from our fig tree, we said, Thank God!
We’ve outgrown those shadows!
And that night,
we made love in a bed that seemed safer
than the outside world and I threw our television
out the window while you slept because there was
too much buzzing, and naked, I went downstairs
and pulled out a container of fruit, a soft banana,
spinach, and almond milk because I am trying hard
to feed the ghosts blueberry smoothies,
so one day they will leave me alone.


Author’s Note

For a long time, I lived with a haunted armoire. At night, I would wake up with a jolt and run to it and open it up, looking for medicine or sick birds I was convinced were in there. It had an anxious energy that called to me when I slept. After fifteen years of poor sleep, I finally got rid of it. And for two weeks, I slept well, until one night I woke uneasy believing there were dying guinea pigs under my bed. Now I dream there is medicine I’ve forgotten to take in my nightstand. So what does this have to do with the poem? The buzzing is the unease and anxiety around us that exists, revealing itself in different ways—as ghosts, as the television out the window—and we try to find ways to deal with it. I had a realization when I got rid of the armoire—it wasn’t the armoire that was haunted, I was. This poem was a way for me to explore what we carry with us and the things that keep us up.