Anna Meister

Unsolicited Advice to Adolescent Girls the Summer Before Heading East

after Jeanann Verlee


When he offers you guitar lessons, say no.

When he says you should singe your fingertips

for better calluses, become a chain-link fence.

Don’t forgo the condom because he calls your eyes

a rainforest. When the boy you think you love

fucks someone else & tells everyone about it

with a toothy grin, don’t let him kiss you

or get in your car. Claim you lost your keys.

Picture his bed cold. When he kisses you, don’t

hold your breath. Don’t leave the party

or call his friend. When he strums

his way through the song with your name in it,

don’t smile, don’t analyze. Don’t

call it romantic when two junkies get married,

or do, but know it doesn’t mean anything.

Break things to make friends. Bones, family

heirlooms. Watch the party marvel

at your one hundred & twelve pounds.

Drive across town to a house show.

Drive to Minnesota to swallow mushrooms

in an empty apartment. Don’t smile.

Make friends with all the girls, especially

the ones fucking the boy you think you love.

Kiss them when you’re drunk. Make all the boys

cheer. Make all the boys write songs

with your name in them. Be loyal

to your cigarette brand. Don’t cough.

Let the train track sleepers introduce you

as their smart friend. As a burning canvas,

a paper doll. Instead of guitar,

learn whiskey. Gulp it down

without wincing. Win

every drinking contest you enter. Earn

the nickname Fish. When you leave the party, don’t

go home with him. Tell everyone

he told you he’d been celibate. Tell them

you know he was lying. Show your teeth.

Be a canvas, a marvel, grin like the lost key.

Burn all your money. When you kiss, kiss

like a wasp. Fuck like an alley cat in heat.


Anna Meister is an MFA candidate in Poetry at NYU. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Sugar House Review, BOAAT, Word Riot, & Noble / Gas Qtrly. Anna was a finalist for the 2014 Button Poetry Prize. She edits poems for Mount Island Magazine, works with kindergarteners, & lives in Brooklyn.


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