Keepers (4)

By: Stephanie Burt
July 23, 2016

One in a series republishing 10 poems — about everyday objects and pop culture avatars — by HiLobrow friend and contributor Steph Burt.

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avril guitar

FOR AVRIL LAVIGNE

I used to be told
just what to play, and how to play:
I was wide-eyed
for the halides, the emerald tides
of applause, raccoon-eyed in the
      foreign sun.
That’s the thing about spotlights: it hurts
      when they leave you alone.

Now I feel old:
at least nineteen, today.
It gets hard to decide
who to be: minx, brides-
maid, pirate, tagger, ghost girl, in search of
      more fun
than I cóuld be when I was my first name,
      blank as cut stone.

Dad, I want to say thanks
for forcing me to practice
every night after school. It’s hard to
      postpone
what you want for what you will want later,
      to put things off
when you might change so much from
      each March to that May,
but now I know you have to study so hard
      to sound free,

and if everyone thinks
I’m fake, Goth-lite, black lace
and tennis shoes and butterflies drawn
on denim in ballpoint, it is almost enough
to know you still pay me attention: I will say
that I’m crazy, I’m yours, I’m real, I’m lost,
      but the me

that I want to keep is the one that dictated
      the mix,
the author of gold-notebook storyboards,
      not the star turn:
the planner in the mirror, the overhearer
who once stood in line for so long, who
      wanted to learn
the secrets, the customs, the costumes, the
      whole bag of tricks.

Copyright © 2013 by Stephen Burt. Reprinted from BELMONT with the permission of the author and Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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ALL POSTS IN THIS SERIES

STEPH BURT at HILOBROW: KEEPERS (10 poems) | GENO (EPIC WINS series) | NO KILL I (KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series) | ENTANGLEMENT (HERMENAUTIC TAROT series) | HAPPY BIRTHDAY (QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series).

CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators

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