ERIN J. MULLIKIN - "Dear Loneliness"

from by 90s Meg Ryan



– Dear Loneliness –

The last time I drove down this road, I counted, using my fingers, up from my birth year, but the way the trucks passed my car threw me off. & I stayed confused for most of that journey & during the days after, so you’ll have to excuse me because right now, I am feeling so sentimental that I don’t know what to do with the way the trees are blooming & blossoming & becoming fully clothed. I was so rich this week that I didn’t even bother to cash my paycheck. This is something I did not do, & because I still do not know what to do, I do the only thing I can think of. I lay down my head against the gravity, & I sing some song that no one will ever know but me. & this is the price I pay for happiness: to be able to feel it but to not know how to tell you what it is I feel exactly because I am always alone in everything, & you know I don’t lie when I say so are you.


Had I analogue desire or had I the white dog’s deaf patience. I would stick my lightning stick into the lightning itself. I would long for amazement & I would wait for it, but I have not the inclination nor the endurance.

In the silk ground, all the ones I’ve loved sleep forever. I find myself at odds with their ghosts, without the will to end & having no tolerance for endings.

I could be at odds with the night, too, if only it would produce in me the steadiness of the lunar cycle. But in this only, I bleed when the moon pulls my skin too tight against my bones, & I bleed when the sea forgets herself & rains upon us.


Last night, I couldn’t sleep because you were hard & angry against me. On our nightstand, our telephone rang, yet neither of us answered.


If I should ever find myself washed completely in an angry sea, I hope it is you who will pull me like a weakened tooth into the safety of dislocation. What I mean to say is that I would like you to rescue me from my agrarian past.

I am sure now that none of me makes sense.

But I am stalking the mist, & I am fertile, I swear it, & I am desperately missing you.


Tonight, the moon uses its awful lit fingers to hoist over the rooftops of houses in my neighborhood. Its slow climb reminds me of the tenderness in a baby’s eyelashes.

Nothing can stop the moon when it wants to position itself above us.

& yet, at the end of an era, someone may lean over the porch railing & yell “Hey everybody, moon’s rising!” & we’ll all turn to watch it crawl slowly across our hemisphere, giant & maddening, clanging as it goes.


Sumatra was the smell that night when the power went out & the ice formed geometries on our windowpanes.

I am not lonely now, let’s not mince words. It’s only that I’ve heard the world break in half, & I am wondering if you’re alright.


The weekend you left, our neighboring church hosted a party. The weekend, then, was full of mirth. Joy. I struck my arm with a knife like I was a teenager.

Our neighbors were looking at the world from their windows.

Someone called the police & I shook in the blue light. I had been arrested before, & I was afraid of the shaking made of my body. I wanted to take a bath, but you had all the towels.

I inadvertently came up with this metaphor: love is a bath you want to take, but you can’t.


You’re always already taking the time to consider something else.

I could be a map, but I could also be a doorway. Whatever I am, I feel now that it is up to you.


The right bottom tooth that should be a canine but is not, that is where I store my secrets. To hear them, you must first get inside my mouth. No, you must memorize all the bodies of water in Iceland first, then you must count them, & then you must tell me the tiny number before my jaws unhinge.

ERIN J. MULLIKIN is the author of the chapbook, Strategies for the Bromidic (dancing girl press), and her poems and short fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines such as elsewhere, Best New Poets 2014, The Yoke, alice blue review, Spork, Birdfeast, and ILK. She is a founding editor for the online poetry journal, NightBlock, and the small literary press, Midnight City Books​.


from The Real​-​World Problems We Face, released February 3, 2015


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90s Meg Ryan Muncie, Indiana

In 1989 Meg Ryan immortalized herself as Sally Albright.
Throughout the next decade, she mesmerized us all.

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