Blades of Crust

by Blair Emsick

“I can't even believe.... I never once saw..... I never knew.... I always had,” my sharp-nosed main squeeze paraphrased with a theatricality only he thought was astounding. He capped off with a laughter louder than anyone else. I suppose I always admired and envied someone who could make themselves laugh, but still there was something crude about it that hit beneath the nail.
Getting drunk at bars after poetry readings, imagining we’re bigger than we were; that old enduring past time.
“He's exaggerating,” I said, wanting to defend poetry more than the poet.
“It was still nonsense,” he demanded, moving his cigarette through the air pompously like a thin paint brush.
“It was....,” I started, peeling back the layers of sensory experience in my brain, trying to contact the translator within to make sense of the reading. The whimpering, the belching, the big heads atop small bodies, the hangnail of an idea, and mostly me, day dreaming.
I was day dreaming about making soup, when one of the poets interrupted my imaginary peeling of garlic with a horny drool, “I wanna blow loads into you/ after eating your pussy.”
“It wasn't all nonsense, but some of it was a bit too much,” I conceded. What could I do?
They continued to argue about poetry, which was a topic I really should have been more invested in, but I was too busy conducting my own poem in my head.
“Literature and journalism rock the boat way more than any poetry,”
“White Man's Burden! Dream deferred!”
“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings! Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock!”

A tusk rusts between blades of crust.
A casket is filled with silk and diamonds.
A floor is filled with long golden hairs, and take-out receipts

“Yeah but those are as much poems as much as Luther's 95 Theses was a list, like, why don't we nail lists on doors anymore to create ideological unrest!”
I held back a scoff and shuffled inside the bar, even though all my friends were outside, and my drink was half full. I just needed to be invisible for a moment.

Looking for the man who has been asleep more than he has been awake
Could he tell us about death
Cold voices, cold drinks,
I serve less purpose to the world than a sink

I was chasing tid-bits of conversations like lightning bugs on a summer night:
“You know I liked her until...”
Until what? Until she started doing coke? Sleeping with your boyfriend?

“No, you can't leave.”
To go where? Go to work? Go to her ex's place.... again.

“Ids like.. I could give you the finer things in life! Ifyouwan flowers I'll buy yerflorwersz.” No one's bought me flowers before, but I've never asked for them either.

My mind blinks instead of thinks,
On and off, open and closed,
What’s there?
What’s theirs?

I slam an empty shot glass on to the bar. Some guy offered me one. He was one of those creatures who seem to make you even more invisible. Who says no to a free drink anyway?

Looking for the man who's been more alone than ever with company.
What can he tell me about being left behind? About being forgotten?
Left foot, right foot left foot, trench foot.
A smoke and her photograph,
all he had left.

Hey are you mad at me?” Sharp-nose appears suddenly.
“No.”
“Then why'd you just leave?”
“I donno”
“You're mad about the poetry thing, huh. You know I love your poetry right?”
“My poetry’s awful,”
“But it’s important to you, and that's all that matters, that's why I like it.”

Looking for the oldest woman in the world.
So she can tell me the right and wrong way to spend my time,
So she can help me make sense of it all.


Blair Emsick grew up in Omaha. She is studying English and Journalism at UNO. Her writing typically deals with the precarious balance between existentialism, enlightenment, and binge drinking - three past times she actively indulges in when shes working, studying, and getting her heart broken. Her muses are beer, cigarettes, and Mahalia Jackson. She can also read palms and minds.