Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

— Virginia Woolf

I am a starfish tonight

by E. Kristin Anderson

(after Prince)


Remind me—

what was it that kept me bound

to reality last summer? The songs

and the stars and the ocean I saw

when I closed my eyes?


I make my bed around myself

and reach my arms out at the edges.

In one hand are the pirates, in one hand

is the ship and my heart beats soft

like a snare.


I never close the door.

You never know what ghost of love

might float through, put on a hat,

and say okay. Instead, I consider

the consequences of words:


What is anchor? What is coffee?

What is pigeon? What is fuck, hard

k sound striking stand straight up

hello into the listener and you claim

to have quit swearing but I never will.


They cut off my arm and as it grows back

every obscenity that passes my lips makes sense

of the pain. Lets it trickle into my mitral valve

where (yes) it pumps dirty back through my veins

like damn damn damn.


But how long do we have here

anyway? And if tonight I am

a starfish in a pool of sweat

and sheets then tomorrow I will

be a dolphin and I will not stay close to shore.


Listen to me, let me win—

this one time, I know you’ll let me win,

vice after vice. We write them down. We

are not sorry. At least me—I am not a woman

with apologies in her dirtied blood.



E. KRISTIN ANDERSON the author of seven chapbooks including A Guide for The Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks 2014) Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press, 2015), 17 Days (ELJ Publications) Acoustic Battery Life (ELJ 2016), Fire In The Sky (Grey Book Press 2016), and She Witnesses (dancing girl press, 2016). Her nonfiction anthology, Dear Teen Me, based on the popular website of the same name, was published in October of 2012 by Zest Books (distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and her next anthology, HYSTERIA: Writing The Female Body, is forthcoming from Sable Books. She’s worked at The New Yorker magazine, has a B.A. in Classics from Connecticut College and is currently a poetry editor for Found Poetry Review. She’s published poetry in many magazines worldwide, including Juked, Hotel Amerika, [PANK], Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Cicada, and she has work forthcoming in Folio and Red Paint Hill. She grew up in Maine, lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at


The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.

—Cervantes, Don Quixote

© 2016 The Indianola Review