a documenter of feelings. shapes. colors. stories
audio producer | writer | teaching artist
I was a room for eleven
months. The books piled
neatly, the dishes washed
every evening. Then,
you came back
again. You pulled my chest
from your jaw in one beat. Chin
tipped towards table corner, eyes
trickster fire, saying: what if?
The next day waves crashed
my room. All the way up to my
collar bone. I heard the ocean
swallow cars on Portland Avenue.
I walked fears into mud by the river,
cicadas my witness. Our memories now
too close, almost drowning their chorus.
That night the rain chanted Leave
the room, leave the room. What if?
Emily Krumberger | © 2022
I want to cut off my arm. Sometimes.
When the steps of Coltrane’s notes grab me,
threading themselves under my skin.
They start soft: a child peering
around the corner of an open door,
then quickly padding away.
Slowly building, their crescendo
a warm buzz on my skin.
Or when the fuschia splatter of clouds
like magnetized forms on an etch-a-sketch
hang above the Lake Street K Mart
on humid summer nights.
When metal clanging down city streets and
pieces of children’s afternoons
ricochet off house walls into kitchen windows.
How do you tell people that you ingest every
snatch of song overheard, every glimpsed sway
of skirt, every shade of the prism your eyes consume?
That you are a river of electric current?
How do you name the color of sky
ignited by fluorescent etchings
of a downtown at the moment after
a silent cascade of rain --
Is it inky? Is it mauve?
The petals of water cycle their own orbit
in the streetlamp pool, barely possessing
the weight to touch down on cement.
How do you name the meeting of lips
to skin in the triangle between hip bone
and abdomen? Or the cackle of saliva
against tongue and inside of cheek -
oral mucosa - in a kiss?
This precise naming of things -
in language - is this
Emily Krumberger | © 2020
CHICAGO LAKE LIQUORS
How are you doing? Surviving. Two older men with six packs lean in. Yea, I’m in the same boat. One, a shaved head, grisly beard, Harley shirt, hunches over as he picks up his Milwaukee’s Best. In the check out line, a green mohawked kid speaks Spanish to two guys with work still on their jeans. A grandma tells her nephew the stories knotted in her back.
Now this chapel of indulgence and mosaiced liquid no longer vibrates with elder laughs nor commerces in shit talking. Brighter lights and new linoleum don’t favor gray heads nor lined faces the way softer tones did. A shiny new neighbor with heated underground parking and a necklace of balconies has arrived. The block grins with Uncle Sam teeth and tells visitors that the changes are worth what they hide.
Emily Krumberger | © 2019
On that drive east
down 36th street
the summer’s last sun
glint arrowed a shard
across the windshield.
The breaks: not quick
enough. The squirrel’s
dart: too direct, kissing
the wheel with a
deliberation its heart
couldn’t sustain. Still,
the veins sent blood.
From this side of
the steering wheel we
shouted, burst doors
open. The car: now a
winged dinosaur stalling
in the road while the
its spill around brick
apartments to ask,
is it time?
Its flame: the blaze
we didn’t know to
prepare. Our arms
found cardboard and
gurnied the rodents’
shuddering frame onto
alley grass. In unspoken
rhythm we altar boyed
and auntied. Pulled
mother tongue from
dirt. Whispered psalms
and threaded death
rituals our hands learned
as young bodies. When
the cadence of truth
was known by
refracted light we
are all earth dust,
Emily Krumberger | © 2022