Courtney Kampa


You’ve tried, you really have, you’re saying

to your buddies at the bar, but there really is

no better way of describing her person

than as a book of maps pointing the direction

of your own. And you’re sorry, really—well, a little

sorry—that it’s ended this way, this compass

wheeling into all directions, those thighs

you gave yourself to, thought you’d do something

interesting with, but there you were,

tongue climbing the latitudes

of her body, thinking all the while mostly

of yourself: how those stories about her family

made you feel; that her irises’ foreign color

left you questioning your personal

and professional decisions. Her short arms

taught you yours are long; that your hair

looks best when a girl’s hands misbehave

inside it; that your fear of lightning

is normal—it’s fine, it’s really fine—and for all

of that, you owe her, you do, though you doubt

by now, she’d take it—anything—from

you, a week since your name in her mouth

has done cold, glossy things

to both your bodies. Do your impression

of her again—someone’s saying—but wait

til I get back, hikes the belt loops

of his Levi’s, brings another pitcher from the bar,

the beer disappearing like whole people do

into desire, and you’re lit with it, alive

and pulling at the air, entertaining them with how

her door was stuck just after you’d told her—

how she couldn’t get it open,

shoulder thrown against it, your mock-wild face

imitating her own’s attempt not to be,

and they’re howling now, because it’s funny.

They stack their cups like many glassy pieces

of an argument. Lie down with us

in our lives, they say, There is always more

of the world, they say, She is meaner now, and

more beautiful.

Courtney Kampa

<em>Edit Poetry</em> Courtney Kampa

Courtney Kampa's work is forthcoming in Boston Review, TriQuarterly, The Journal, The National Poetry Review, New England Review, and elsewhere, and has received awards from The Atlantic, Poets & Writers Magazine, and North American Review. She holds an MFA from Columbia and works at a publishing house in New York.