“I need to get wasted tonight and destroy things” by Anna Gurton-Wachter

I need to get wasted tonight and destroy things

everyone knows I shouldn’t be

getting high with you

going out for drinks

talking until I lose myself

then someone interrupts

to say, what are you doing?

I thought of a line for a poem

while we were in the shower

but couldn’t say it

and now I don’t remember

you take showers together?

seems to be the only takeaway

but what about that line

I can’t remember

who I was

and you can’t seem

to make sense of it either

how powerful and powerless

I am all at once

I didn’t want to share the line

even with myself

I’ll save being brilliant

for later, right now

a voice whispers in my ear

you’ll be where I’m going

so everyone thinks they can read me

they’ve always been able to

I’ve always come home late

puked into my pillow

swallowed the evening whole

I wanted to make sure

I was really living

and will you be where I’m going?

I do want to know

how far across any room

we might lock eyes

stoned and ready

I guess

the poetry is more alive

than I am

I want to go home again

I imagine such a place

formed into a dialogue

that I can destroy

and I wonder if

I’ll be awake for it

the destruction

I imagine us swimming

beside a boat

in the dark

there is a photograph of me

swimming in the dark with someone

nobody can say who that person is

though we all remember that night

I had sex with one person in a gazebo

then found myself in a room with another

he was confessing something and kissing gently

mostly I was present

how to say I’ve already had my fill tonight

without any words

if there were such a thing as being full

I’ll take you home with me too

throw you in my truck, save you for later

but who was that person in the night water

swimming next to me

in the photograph we look like

we know each other well

— but enough of that,
what does it matter?

desire and pleasure mix

we all know

there is a moment in

David Wojnarowicz’s tape journals

where he is in his car

driving listening to a song

speaking to his tape recorder

and he gets so sad

thinking about

the people who have died

and how they will never

get to hear this particular song

not even a song he likes very much

I see all of new york

that way today:

the subway,

the panhandlers battling

over who can ask first,

the homeless men at my feet

I see them and I miss them

as a pre-emptive gesture

I miss you already

where am I going?

when there is no future

we imagine them saying

the problem is not

that we are fiends

the problem is

that there is a country at all

and will I kiss you today

give you some change

write a love poem

that actually takes place

in my body

a song that makes

everyone imagine it playing

without any listeners

in a deep internal future

when there’s nobody left

Note on the Poem:
[The lines : “I’ll take you home with me too / throw you in my truck, save you for later” are a reference to the poet Diane Burns, whose work that I have encountered evokes for me a kind of confidence mixed with sadness that I find very unique. My poem was written after reading Diane Burns and Alice Notley in the 1981 Feminist Reading Group at the Poetry Project. Our group discussion coincided with the Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh hearings, which directed the group’s attention more acutely towards alcohol, ideas of truth and witnessing, memory and sexuality. There was a defeated, angry and sad quality to us all already, and I felt that the hearings made coming together to talk about poetry and check in with each other feel even more necessary.]

Photo: Anna Gurton-Wachter

Anna Gurton-Wachter

Anna Gurton-Wachter is a writer, editor and archivist. Her first full length book, Utopia Pipe Dream Memory, is newly out from Ugly Duckling Presse in 2019. Other recent work has appeared in Peach Magazine and Vestiges. For more info visit annagw.com / @anna.as.metaphor