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.