Tennessee, you keep taking my socks each time I do laundry. Every week, I have to
buy a new package. Striped or plaid, it doesn’t matter, they will all be eaten by your
machine. Bundles of cotton that protect my feet from my shoes which protect my socks
from the ground which protects the rising heat from taking us all back down.
Tennessee, you keep taxing my tampons. Bundles of cotton that allow me to be civilized
in public. My own personal genital dictionary. I pay for these luxury items like a Gucci
handbag strapped to the waist of some stumbling creature making its way north.
Tennessee, you keep shutting down bookstores and opening coffee shops and it’s not
like I don’t like coffee shops, but there should just be an equal proportion of words to
caffeine for me to get anything done.
Tennessee, you keep me awake. I hear owls, trucks, frogs, cicadas, feral cats, electrical
units, cable boxes, old records, TV stations, radio waves, guns, footsteps, cobwebs,
rivers, wind, tornados, fireworks, hopscotch, and whiskey before I settle in for the night.
Tennessee, you freed Cyntoia Brown but killed three more Black men without blinking.
Tennessee, I’m starting to think you don’t put the toilet seat back down after you’re
done. Tennessee, I’ll get to my point.
When I drink from your rivers I cough up blood. I haven’t showered in months. I smoke
cigarettes to feel awake when coffee doesn’t work. I refuse to listen to you anymore. My
dermatologist charges thirty dollars an hour. I won’t get down on my knees. I read an
opinion article entitled “Why I proudly wear my Make America Great Again hat” on a
park bench near a crying baby. I can’t remember if John F. Kennedy was a Catholic.
Selena Gomez won’t stop asking me to buy makeup and I’m tired of letting her down.
When I put my ear to your soil all it says is stop hurting us. I can’t and won’t stop
gardening cacti. I don’t want to go to nuclear war. Russia takes four months to deliver
my mail. Take down that ugly statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest or I’ll do it for you. I’m
thinking of starting my own commune for everyone with student loans. It’s true I don’t
change my oil every four thousand miles but I’m nearsighted & I don’t want to die here
Lauren Suzanne is a writer and poet from Nashville, TN, an alumna of Belmont University, and a current MA student in Art History at the University of Chicago. Her poems have appeared in The Crambo Literary Journal and the Red Mud Review. She won first place in the 2018 Sandra Hutchins Creative Writing Award in Creative Nonfiction at Belmont University. She currently lives in Chicago, IL.