My first book, published by Coconut Press in 2014 , is also my favorite book.
All of the illustrations on this site were created by Krysten Brown for the chapbook Sorry It’s So Small, published by Factory Hollow Press a really long time ago. It’s super out of print but I could sell you a copy for a lot of money if you really wanted one.
I’m Lauren Ireland. I learned (or whatever) how to write poems from being a person in the world and also from going to UMass Amherst. I live in Seattle with my husband and a cat and a big cardboard box full of copies of the following books:
Plus two chapbooks
Sorry It’s So Small is my first chapbook (or any kind of book, ever) and was published by Factory Hollow Press in 2011. It was a collaboration with the dazzling Krysten Brown, who designed cover and interiors, and it is now out of print.
The title refers to the size of the book (it is really small) as well as the way big feelings, both good and sad, seem to shrink as they recede into the distance.
I wish I had gone to school for archaeology, but I’m bad at math and languages and also at touching corpses.
Here; I dug up some old poems and interviews and stuff for you. I’m not willing to claim 100% responsibility for any dumb stuff I said before, say, 2013.
Wine I’m weightless in the wet neon night.
Smell of burning plastic wood smoke leather sleeves.
I can’t leave you without imagining your death.
I burn the inside of your palms with my brains.
Our bed is a cloud the night made,
our little grey cat its breath.
It’s a night with one star
fragrant as cold roses.
Hair pins sparkle in the cracks of the floorboards.
Let it fall out of you.
I can hear things in the vents
voices hoarse and sweet.
I want to be whispered to.
When I am tired there is nothing
in me. All the pleasures of the senses
crushed under my dirty soles.
The pleasures of the senses
are ok with me.
You guessed it
I am awake
making a list of everything
I have wasted today.
It’s almost nothing
it’s like half a thing.
The window is cracked thought-wide
smaller than a thought
enough for the moon to get in.
Where are we.
When are we.
Would you unknow me if you could?
There are things I wish
I didn't know.
Peeing in the dark
elbows on knees
cold tile, excited spider
in the bathtub.
I have a secret fear
of still waters.
and you are already tired.
Go to sleep tired.
Your breasts are two bruised plums
circled by a drunk wasp.
You are so close to forty.
This was never supposed to happen.
Go back to the time before “time.”
Wake what’s sleeping there.
Make a ladder
of your own silky child’s hair.
Lick the tears
from your own smooth cheeks.
It is all very very tender.
Climb past your small curled self
curl your fingers
over the lip of the bowl
of the inverted world.
You have no idea
how far I’ve come
to tell you this.
What if those were all your teeth on the floor.
What would you say if your dream came true.
You move through the tunnels of me
you are the toasted odor of decay.
Something is always about to happen.
Why are scary things sexy. Why are doctors so tall.
If the future is a roller rink my skates are white
& my smile is white & I am dead & I am
couples skating to Cypress Hill.
over the bridge
I can see
my own dress.
will this long sadness
lope after me
shaking the boards
collecting my nosebleeds
of my hair?
but the absence
all this vulvic divinity
discharge of poems
birthright of being
I don’t want it.
How many men
have chased me
away from myself?
I never asked
over the water
the flavor of fruit
from my very
Soft crescent of moon
softens in the current.
I can only ever
inside the softness
of my own
my dress drying
on the rails
the seams like the spancel
To be naked
is to be the most
my own self
through the trees.
How did we all get here
I don’t know
Become a secret
that turns itself inside out
become the remotest part of yourself
become a snake that becomes a dark boat
slicing through black brackish water
rich mud, crackling dying things
quiet dead things.
The moon cuts the water and
that’s where you fit your body
into the groove of cold light.
The water closes around you.
The water reflects nothing.
Think of all the things you can find
under the mud
the spinning wheel and the candle
the CD player and the candle
the teenager and the candle, where
the candle is red.
A crushed velvet something, a moon on a chain.
A crescent moon is the universal symbol for night.
A snake is a chain of memories.
Get this poem tattooed on your lower back.
Bronzed breast bone. Rattle rattle.
Even the air tastes like metal.
Mercury glass. The backs of spoons. Poor Brooklyn.
I-beams sway to comfort me.
All of Poland has turned out to hold my hands.
Gently weeping wolves. The tender hare.
I am disloyal to my own tears.
Thank you for breaking up with me
in the park. Now I get to hate
trees. Each dead leaf has a special
meaning: Death. Sleeping is a long slow fight.
Night makes breath sad clouds.
Dark breaks around every sound.
Each time the phone rings I remember who I am.
I'm Lauren Ireland. I thought I told you to shut up.
Once there was a city here or I forget what that means.
My body is preparing itself for California.
Physical distance is a kind of purifying pain
jasmine and urine a kind of sickened longing.
What if I said no place is a place for being okay
in the world. When I lay down drunk I’m in every city.
The spooky fuck of nostalgia and I forget.
My body is preparing itself for California.
And I am full of america. Those folded mountains
sleeping skin and hair. Weird peace in the rumpled hills.
Earthquake shoves our house and we shove back. High
and sighing in over the roofs and all the wrong trees
fog is a salve for all the lost words. Yes
I am straight with the kush
Grey falls all over everything
except my party dress. & even then
the whole galaxy is dusty,
& my hair. Well.
I am just trying to sift.
Remember when I was a person.
I have been waiting to be
pretty again & to be friendly.
Trees bend away.
Books fly off the shelf. I suck.
Let me tell you about the time
I was a person. Do you know
any more than I do? Snow, who cares.
I have seen a shark’s vagina.
Men are taking vibrant golden tinkles in the park.
Everything I do is wrong. Extravagant vomit
weak little talons it's all solid gold.
YOU are the god of the underworld
your job is to show no happiness. I get high & listen
to the music of the spheres. I love you. I'll die
if I can't keep moving I resent the full stop.
I want to be in a cold car
with all my selves
in a Massachusetts I never left
The divine sweetness of the girls
in my head
the car exhaling
over dirty white roads.
press the sky
press the clouds.
Far away geese are calling
I park at the party.
Cloud of golden midges
I’m in love
everything is on fire
it is four o’clock
on a Friday forever
it is almost spring
and I have never been hurt.
Sturdy yellow petals
over the turnstile
pleasure of excess
in the butterfly garden
I am already concerned
everything is past.
I will lick these peonies open myself.
Walking over the bridge of names
the darkest dark
I have ever seen
dark cars hushing
over the dark street.
Watching the party blink on
sealing everything with fear.
Warm scent of curled hair
on warm dense fur collar
dress red as a cat’s throat.
When we go inside the party
who will we be.
faded brown rose
incense and silk scarves
at the cigarette shop.
Spiraling piles of books
under the windowsills
names gossiping in the flyleaves
spiders on the porch.
Here is the swimming hole
where we prise garnets from the rocks
little tick sucking at my chest
here is where the black bear waited
by the door
here is where we pulled over
in the unholy church
here is the shop
where we buy eggs and bread
here it is.
Making faces in the convex mirror
I’m told this is the face
that makes me pretty
and this is the face
that makes me me.
on the wet skylight.
I am the ghost
at the feast
I am afraid
of the telephone
the space between now and then.
The dark is alive
with the imagined scents
of sleep and hair
I pull it on like a blanket
the night’s most awful blanket
I’m breathing dreadful clouds
wet can of wet ash
burnt cigarette ends
ice on the sill
on my elbows.
Everyone who lived here
Is that a nice thing
to tell me
before I go to bed?
Then merciful sleeping
into the charred morning.
and the frozen millstream.
Kitten-faced violas in a mug
whole afternoons on the grass
screen door slamming and slamming
fresh red blood
on my palm.
I am thinking of something
tell me what I am thinking.
but I am.
I don’t remember anything
rainy afternoon on Locust
following smells home
the cold expensive smell
of the coats on the bed
is it wrong
to care about this
little red one with white dots
every slender thing
that grows on the forest floor
has a name.
Brackish water has a taste
Fear tastes like aspirin
inside the old cupboard
in the shed
stored in the eaves
it is not ok to be here.
out of bricks.
The apples are going
with sweet dead faces.
Wet dusty scent of storm windows
Non-shadow of blinds making vertebrae
watery light on the wall
the sound of mail being sent (slide whistle of joy)
the dumb daily things
the luxury of abstinence from lipstick
o world when
did you get so small.
all these sounds
low and holy in my ear like night.
Dangerous whiff of rotting apples. I’m gutted.
Wasps don’t sting they bite. Actually I have seen my dad cry.
Real fruit or nothing. Cheetos. Everything
I remember about being three is wrong.
I look good in a bikini. Give me my fuckin money.
Give me my fuckin money. Give me my fuckin money. Give me my fuckin money.
The creek overflows. Moccasins will leap
to bite you where you stand. No you can’t touch me.
The creek overflows. Teenagers suck
their thumbs it’s hot-hot. I’m not on drugs
or anything, but I can see the molecules vibrate.
Plus there is a cheese sandwich inside me, making me feel cozy.
Standing in line for the roller coaster: it’s 1998.
You can buy wine at the 7-11.
Bodysuits are for prostitutes.
I just thought you should know.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare fuck
your accordion. There are marigolds and rich sadnesses.
I’m crying on 5th Avenue thank you it’s raining but just
a little bit bright blood on a bright hot day. There is no
great mystery. Music comes from cars. God comes
from books. Love comes from paper. Hare hare.
My heart is a hotel room
and I am alone here tonight
cold windows, cold sheets, warm breath
cold city sparkling coldly below
time drying on my thighs.
If you ask me, I will tell you:
even as a child, I knew
childhood was a mistake.
It’s been a long day.
Now I am 37. The mornings go on
until four o’clock.
That is when I am closest to death.
Today I am eating tulip leaves, dying of water.
Because there is the unreal
and then there is the really really unreal.
When you are my age you will understand.
My hair grows long and I cut it
my hair grows long again and I cut it again.
Change is seduction.
Change is seduction,
seduction is a message:
you could never be this again
even if you wanted it.
Now I am 37.
Who even am I
hungover, not even real
I froze my eyes with the lip of a Coke can.
Well water and jasmine
milk milk lemonade
the perfume of the suburbs haunts my hangover
and every ex-boyfriend finds me on the internet.
I was drunk enough to look in the mirror
and think, this is OK.
Now I am stoned, eating cake in bed.
Sorrow is a long game.
When there is nowhere else to go
past all desire, past the place of feelings
my hands are sexy lions
hunting in the yellow forests of memory.
I don’t want to remember things.
Paper like moth wings
those folded notes
soft foxed edges.
Handful of pony beads.
High school high school high school.
Why won’t you help me not feel like this?
All the dying commas fall
blazing from the sky.
The moon has a drunken face
laughing and laughing over the gravel drive
in the blood-bright October air.
The truth is not that bad
coming from you.
But when the truth is
coming for you
that is another story.
Who can loosen a Champagne muselet with her teeth?
Are we ever not within a breath of hell?
Jim Beams, like 3 or 4 of them, and
I am past reason.
I am licking the tender inside
of my own tender elbow.
I am the rickety queen of my own bed.
The last time I was beautiful I
carried the cold in on my coat
carried a book wrapped in brown paper,
a surprise. My hair a crown of braids.
Candlelight, fat glasses of golden wine.
Be careful what you wish for
in the airport bar.
Now I am burning
and burning in circles.
My crown is fire. No, rain. No, fire.
My crown is the heat of things passing.