• kjoannerixon

Crush


I bought this book, years ago, because of the Supernatural fandom, which for a while there was about 80% gifsets on tumblr paired with quotes from Siken's poems:


"You're in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won't tell you that he loves you, but he loves you."


"But damn if there isn't anything sexier than a slender boy with a handgun, / a fast car, and a bottle of pills."


"In these dreams it's always you: / the boy in the sweatshirt, / the boy on the bridge, the boy who always keeps me / from jumping off the bridge."


"There's a bottle of whiskey in the trunk of the Chevy and a dead man at our feet / staring up at us like we're something interesting. This is where the evening splits in half, Henry, love or death. Grab an end, pull hard, / and make a wish."


"But angels are pouring out of the farmland, angels are swarming / over the grassland, / Angels rising from their little dens, arms swinging, wings aflutter, / dropping their white hot bombs of love.... They want you to love the whole damn world but you won't, you want it all narrowed down to one fleshy man in the bath"


"We were in the gold room where everyone / finally gets what they want, so I said, What do you / want, sweetheart? and you said, Kiss me."


I think the parallels between Siken and Supernatural are stronger than just surface references to angels and road trips and beautiful boys. Crush breaks the fourth wall in the same way Supernatural does, referencing the artificiality of film, the contrived nature of so much of life and how frantic and crushing and awful it feels to be in the middle of a story being told by someone else. "So you say you want a deathbed scene, the knowledge that comes before knowledge" - "Who am I? I'm just a writer. I write things down. / I walk through your dreams and invent the future."


And of course, Crush is much, much better than Supernatural ever could be, because the queerness isn't subtext, it's text, it's explicit, and engages not just with homoeroticism but romance, internalized heterosexism, "a gentleness that comes, / not from the absence of violence, but despite / the abundance of it." And a particularly queer longing for a home that never existed: "I had to make up all the words myself. The way / they taste, the way they sound in the air. ...I made / this place for you. A place for you to love me. / If this isn't the kingdom I don't know what is." that reclaims the ability to contrive our own scenes, write our own scripts, fit ourselves and our lovers into new narratives.


That last quote is from "Snow and Dirty Rain," which, this time around, was my favorite poem in the book, perhaps because it's about grief (and other things), and I've been grieving for a while now. There's a lot of grief in this book: "Straw House, Straw Dog" is another really strong poem about grief.


Anyway, I've been listening to the podcast Ride or Die, which reminds me of how much I used to love the Supernatural fandom without having to actually watch that damn show ever again. The show finally ended this year, which was weirdly a relief, and it ended without ever fulfilling the decade and a half of nasty queer baiting that made it so painful to love. Crush was one of the first books of poetry I owned, and so in a way my habit of reading poetry is all due to Supernatural. Life is weird.

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