Irina Bogomolova

Wandering the crevices of my mind.

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the women

the women are growing out their hair for you
their nails for you
their legs for you
you like them all long

but they want to

find nail clippings in the sink
to erase every dead part of us they touched

find hair clippings in the sink
to erase every dead part of us they touched

we do not remove our legs for you
we do not remove our legs for you

these living parts remind us
we could have always run
but didn’t.

We do not know why
and most times
the facts don’t make so much a difference
as the stories
and the stories
aren’t so much facts as they are tales

and we
are always so busy chasing our own

only want what looks familiar
only want what hurts familiar
who hurts familiar

is a breeding ground for
trauma is a breeding ground for
is a breeding ground

call it generational
call our children second chances
call our homes cleaned

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our friends are all following our friends
“suggested for you,” means
this is all tit for tat
especially if you’re into that kinda thing
the invites are always coming in
it’s not our fault if you’re not there to see them
not our business if it’s for your mental health
see how your attempt at control
is really just admitting you have none
so you delete
and reload
and delete
and reload
and wonder if it can ever be permanent
but it never is
because the invites are still coming
because no one picks up their phones these days
you notice
you’re the only one sending text message check-ins
and “can you hangouts?,”
if you stop
things get quiet
and no one with anxiety knows how to do quiet
which is why this poem keeps typing itself
there’s no metaphor about trying to fill the silence
no metaphor in trying to delete forever
it’s not like I don’t want you
it’s that I want you...

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The last time

We were not prepared for this
for having to grieve a body
that is still alive
but a thief of life.

I do not remember my last run
can’t recall if I made good time
or if it was one of those
never ending
count the cracks of the pavement
the broken backs of all mothers
be it yours or mine,
kind of runs.

I remember the doctor telling me no more
like he was some God I forgot to pray to
did not pile enough at the alter of
gratitude for every stride
I drown dried petals in tears
do not recall my last real stride.

We were not prepared for this.

I do not remember the look on my mother’s face
forever remember the words engraved,
“what was that running doing for you anyway?”

It was everything
but you cannot translate everything
это все
in Russian
without also saying,
“that’s it”

We were not prepared for, “that’s it,”
for hang up your jersey
I held onto my track...

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My body
has always been this cold thing
my mother
always tells me
it’s a bad thing
I’ve learned to tell myself the same
but don’t see a thing in the world I could change.
Maybe my body
remains so cold because all of the heat has gone to its joints
maybe my body
has become so brittle because it cannot bear anymore weight.

My therapist
suggests referring me elsewhere
doesn’t know how to talk about my pain
has no idea what it feels like
I can’t remember a day in the last ten years
where I had no idea what if feels like
where pain wasn’t baseline
where a day off wasn’t a miraculous exception.

I don’t remember the last miraculous exception.

Don’t remember not feeling like the sick friend
has begun to slip from my tongue
before they even ask
my body
a constant rejection
the invites
have stopped arriving at its door.

But they are all still so full of compliments,

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Ever forgotten

Ever forgotten the word for turtle?

Ever forgotten the word for dress?


Ever forgotten how to pronounce your last name in your first language?


Ever been too embarrassed to ask?


At least I know my first name
know it means
but it often feels like war.



I’ve noticed when I have nothing
I fill in the space with anger
with leave
with not interested

what I mean is
I don’t know how to say
what I mean
what I mean
what I mean

Is I will bury my parents
with having never known anything
of substance
see I don’t know how to ask
anything of substance
I don’t even know the word for


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Rock-a-bye, baby
On the treetop
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock

I have been balancing
on a tree branch
this moment
knows all the anxiety that will
follow me down,
when I swear I’ve finally become grounded.

When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall

What is grounded if not having finally found
the bottom of the rabbit hole?
Found the pit, following all those running thoughts.
It is dark in here
no matter your focus
you can’t imagine the light bulb on.
You can only take the paths that you walk upon.
Sometimes it’s too late to change direction.
This is down.

And down will come baby
Cradle and all

Call everything you do protection,
wrap yourself in illusionary shelter
we’ll call it by it’s name
its only a name
let’s not get offended
by numb
sometimes it’s useful
when it’s growing dark you try not to feel
the light leave the room.

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Drunk driving

She fumbles trying to put her jacket on a ledge
I giggle
tell her that took a little too long
she giggles
tells me it’s the tequila
I stop, think,
she just got here
begin to grieve for her son
she goes and buys herself a drink.

He gets behind the wheel
too many to count
why bother
he drives better this way
swears it
is more careful
never been stopped
only when sober and speeding
swears it.

I get in the backseat of his car
letting my eyes droop
seat belt off
could be driving the wrong direction
but hey
if I die
at least I’m with blood
maybe if our blood spills it can mix
and if our blood mixes then we can finally be close
I wanna be close like that
so I’m cool like this
buzzing and buzzing
and silent and silent
make my way upstairs and pass out
just like that.

He gets behind the wheel
all sober and shit
driving home from a graduation party

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after the night

I wanted to write a poem
on the night after the night of crying

this is the first one
after the the last one that felt worse than death
and I remember describing it that way

after a year of death
to include: no one saw it coming, an endless nap, suicide, and
the piece of bloodline that led to love
after all of it
it was this heartbreak that strapped me to the bed
or the floor
and it all felt like forever.

I wonder, if the one after that one
and every one after that
will always feel like
dry eyes on the night,
after the night of crying?

And is it because I have nothing left to give?
Am I the dry well left behind, kept for decoration,
maybe something nice to remember
but to never use to it’s full capacity
is my heart
something never to be used to it’s full capacity?

Or does learning to walk away
just begin to feel more like power
and less like pain?

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When I call my father to talk about love
I call him to talk about
what we need to add to the Costco list
in a way,
I think we are actually having the conversation
But still I ask,
“Why do we never say I love you?”
He tells me
how he wasn’t raised this way
how Americans,
throw it around all the time
and it means
and don’t I already know?

The phone call ends on shopping lists
I’m sure I ask for the usual
oatmeal to last a lifetime
and almond milk.

I think when my father buys me almond milk
he thinks I’ll know he loves me
and on some level I do
but doesn’t he know?

The damage we are doing?
That almond milk purchases aren’t so innocent
that the bees are dying
that the land is starving

that not speaking of love
it will have consequences
that do not end with us.

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We dont talk about

We don’t talk about
what immigration feels like enough
to the degree
that I don’t know how to describe
what being an immigrant feels like enough

only say things like
I am not this
but also no longer that enough to say it
no sure what side of the ocean holds my home
being in America
has felt a bit like

a permanent type of temporary

and as confusing as that might sound
that is the best way I think I’ve ever described it
and it feels just like that
it feels
as confusing as that might sound.

When they ask me to speak my native language
I do
unless there are others of my type around
then I become hesitant
scared that my native language has become less native than theirs
I am but a mere google translation away
from wrong
from I forgot the word for that
you know it doesn’t really translate over
like my dad
never fails tell me
that I do not

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