Kelly Kapowski is a character on a ‘television show for teens that aired in the ‘90s called “Saved By The Bell.” She is an all-American, squeaky clean, girl-next-door kind of girl.
Rachel Ronquillo Gray is a Kundiman, Pink Door, Las Dos Brujas, and VONA fellow. Her work has appeared on Public Radio International, Hyphen Magazine, Glass, Tinderbox Poetry, Tahoma Literary Review, and other places. She currently lives, writes, and makes food in Bloomington, Indiana, all with her daughter strapped to her chest.
Welcome to the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Rachel, what poems have you brought for us today?
Kelly Kapowski Unplans A Pregnancy
If I could do it over, I would — thing is, I wanted this.
Prom, I mean. That’s what the fluttering told me.
He showed up at my house because I couldn’t afford
a dress. He stood in my living room, halo pinned
to his chest, some kind of teenage savior. Teeth, blushes,
and perfect brows. In the car, I rolled the window
down, let the electric wind blow through my hair.
He put his hand on my knee and I felt the thrill
of pinprick feet all over my skin. I didn’t have a dress,
so we kissed on a picnic bench outside the school gym.
We could hear the DJ and all his slow jams. We danced
underneath the security lights. A hundred monarchs swept
behind my knees, over my head. Now I wonder, little heartbeat,
if this was all part of the plan. Whether it was his plan or yours.
I thought I was the only girl blessed by the fluttering, the promise
of blue skies and life among clouds of delicate wings soaring
through that electric wind. The gym and its echoing slow dances,
so distant and small. Halos a tiny glitter from this height.
And now, I see I was covered in moths the whole time. Burdened
with want. On a relentless journey for the moon or anything like it.
Kelly Kapowski Gets An Abortion
I am living a life. I will love it regardless.
There is no other option. What I feel is love.
I’ll run my hands along tree skin, feel it rough
or smooth. I am the only one who knows why
this tree grows crooked. Its leaves make shadows
on my skin. I sprawl, spiral, die. So what if I called
it a baby. Instead of a baby, I put a tree in the ground.
I dig a hole with my hands. My fingernails. My stone
lungs. My jackhammer heart. I massage the roots.
So what if I called it a baby. So what if it could have
had his hair, his perfect brows. I return the dirt
to the hole with one hand, hold the tree’s thin stalk
steady with my other. I hold myself at the ribcage.
I am the thing stitching myself together. So what.
Kelly the Killer Kapowski
I get these headaches. I black out & then I’m in a classroom
with red doors. They’re all locked & Zach Morris is hiding
behind a skeleton. The bat in my hand is heavy. I slam it on
a desk & tell him I want him. I shove aside all the desks & back
him into a chalkboard. It’s only you I want. I’m doing this because
I love you. I slam the bat into the chalkboard. He screams & it fills me
like water pouring into a glass. Slam. Slam. Slam. Slam. Please stop
loving me, he cries. This is what you wanted, isn’t it, when you
invited me over to study & turned the lights down so low I couldn’t
see words. You smothered me in your arms, saxophones playing so softly
I nuzzled into you but felt like a deer & couldn’t move. You want me to
ask you to the Sadie Hawkins dance, I’ll do you one better. This skeleton
dance with only a bat between your flighty, bird-like body & me:
bonecrack & splinter, fists raining.
You've been listening to poems by Rachel Ronquillo-Gray on the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.