Two Poems

River by Joni Mitchell


Happy holidays angel, from Chicago. Oh how I wish I had a river, that I could skate to you on. 

Here’s hoping the snow, never leaks through those boots of yours, to touch your feet, which are sized at who knows, wetting your ankles, and ruining your day, 

You fly through the city on a bike, xoxo, and a laugh at the successes of our enemies, shared via text, and that sweet long signal call, you wish you were smoking on my porch right the fuck now? Well guess what

I’ve got a new porch and it’s smaller but more beautiful, it’s got less of a view of the sky, but you can still see the clouds and the sunset over the park, this park is different, the new park is larger, by a lot, there’s even a lagoon to kiss near, and a dried up pool to screw and rim in, 

I can’t believe you’re right, I would frot for the right guy, have I never told you that? I wish it was last winter, and I was thinking about pet sitting for diana, and us making a vegan feast on christmas day, that’s all passed without happening now, but there’s still the dream, the fantasy of us, sitting near the tree, monster in between us, curled up, a fingertip apart, watching notting hill with a blanket over us, i promise to spill no curry on the blanket, and to kiss your forehead goodnight, before we sleep in poet’s beds and wake up to another snowfall, a boxing day together on our feet and backs, wrists and elbows and necks cracking in the morning, the way your hair falls in the morning, the way you look making us both tea, the way we both look sitting at the bar, you sitting up straighter than I could ever imagine, at the little deli counter, lentil soup and katy perry and hashbrowns for all. 

For the holidays I’ve gotten you a shoplifted book, the content is all secret love letters, between Arthur Russell and David Wojnarowicz, baby……. They are too steamy,,,,,, for the pages of any lit magazine, here’s a new spank bank, here’s a place for you, here’s a place for us, here’s a place for everyone to eat sleep and fuck and live, here’s to a holiday celebrating abolition, here’s to holding onto each other, and here’s one last cheers, me with my menthols and you with your 27s, the one’s stephen stole too many of, fuck it…. Let’s be BAD…. let’s have one inside, next to the dead landlord.

I could go on,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, i love you, my favorite letter in the alphabet, 




California by Joni Mitchell


Dear Turner,

I don’t know the name of a single beach in Chicago. 

I know there are beaches that run along Lake Michigan, the holiest place in this stupid country. I despise the beach. I promise I’m allowed to say this. I know I don’t need to defend myself but I will. I grew up next to a river, I grew up on the edge of the Atlantic. I have no attachment to the ocean. The beach is hell. Any and every beach is hell. Even the beach for faggots. I’ve been a chicagoan for three years and have never been. I have gone to the Pacific one single time. 

I stood in the Pacific right off the plane. I had flown into LA with what I thought was the flu. The doctor at the minute clinic charged me $45 dollars for her to simply say “it’s probably the rhinovirus” and then she handed me a doctor’s note. 

I didn’t sleep until the plane. You know I’m always doing this, dear Turner, why do we love to stay up? 

Isabelle picked me up and all my sins were in a car. Oat Milk Latte and the Juul charging on my laptop in my lap. She drove us to Venice and we walked for a moment. I slammed my body into some famous man but I can’t remember which. An accident, a classic LA moment. We walked to the water and I took my bad shoes off and stuck my feet directly into the water. I had a fever and the ocean didn’t cure it. Nothing cured it but sleep while Isabelle fucked her boyfriend. One of her greatest passions. I wish you two could meet, you would love her. 

You ask me to write you and tell you how I am. You know how my summer was. I’ve told you everything dear Turner, what could be left for me to share? You’ve seen each and every screenshot. You’ve looked up the facts of men’s hometowns for me. You’ve rode the bus by the town. You’ve sent me your findings. I would never call you a partner in crime, merely a collaborator in my heist fantasies. No art is stolen, just me and my wild heart. Whisked away to some bar in Bushwick where I can be kissed and kissed, until a man decides it’s not right for him to do it and he goes in jerks off in the bathroom. Blasting cum on the black sticker covered walls and mirror. Dear Turner, I’ve drifted into romantic fantasies, can you forgive me again? 

I’m doing well. I’m sitting in a coffee shop. The barista and I were once in a fake love triangle, but that was last summer. I’m busy, so busy rewriting my own romantic canon. Blasting through my history by licking the neck and clavicle and collarbone of a man until he whines my name over and over. I’ve said this before. I said I was rewriting. Is what I write a poetic of romanticism? Dear Turner, you’re the only one who I can trust to tell me what I write. I surely don’t know. Did you get the wink? Can you see my blue green gray eyes? I’m flashing them at you as bright as I can big boy. 

Lana just came on, where does she feature in our canon of California? That’s what we’re building here isn’t it? She’s later in the canon. You said to me recently that you can’t remember everyone’s personal canon and I stopped myself from saying that I wish to step into your canon and be fired into my mid 20s. Why do I stop myself ever? I know I don’t need to with you. I choose my words carefully, but that’s just communication, baby. I am so impressed with your precocious youth. It’s beautiful. It turns me on. 

Surprise! I have a semi in this cafe and I’m not hiding anything. 

You’re too goth and you’ll never be plastic enough. I can’t feel you crinkle when you push into me when we hug. I can’t hear anything except for your breath. I’ve never heard your heartbeat. Dear Turner, I should rest my head on your chest next time I see you. Don’t let me forget please. 

My credit score is zero. I don’t know how to fudge the numbers right? Can you teach me? Can you show me how to raise my credit, and my inner child? I’m trying to raise this baby and not eyefuck the man in this cafe with a carabiner and a sweater that just says Damn on it. Yes it’s a crewneck. Dear Turner, the burnt orange beanie is too much even for me. What am I supposed to do in this city, in this growing adulthood? How do I build a life and not imagine these mullets in my mouth. God I want to choke on hair. I want them to shave their mullet off and shove the hairs down my throat until I die. Stuff me like a turkey, stud. 

You’ve asked me how I am and I didn’t say sad, maybe I am hiding. I’m doing so well it scares me. Is it a cover? What am I hiding from myself? What am I hiding from you? Is it grief? It’s always fucking grief. I’m so bored of my own grief. Less bored than I am with my hunger and trauma, but still bored nonetheless. Is there anything more boring than having a nice man in front of you, kissing him, and almost moaning the wrong name? If I had a psychoanalyst they would disagree, or probe me about my use of the word boring. I just don’t want to write an essay about trying to fix my problems by falling in love with another Aries. I just want to say the right names and write the best essays. 

I am sad still about that dumb fuck. Less than I was on your couch though. When I blacked out and looked up walking directions to his bar. Sober and coming to staring at a screen. Yes I’m bored by that sadness too. I don’t really want sadness but if I do succumb to it, I would at least like to have it hit. It’s all surface now. 

I guess all porn for me is about loss. You’re right, or David is. Maybe you both are. Dear Turner, I love how right you are. This new man loves that I’m always right. When I tell him what the lyrics actually are. When he stops kissing me days later while the song plays, to tell me I was right? I told him I could cum right then and it absolutely wasn’t a lie. 

I want to kiss. Before and after and during hyperbole. Who will you be kissing if we really do all lose? Who are you kissing at the end of the world? Let’s not talk about it now. But if you see a face when I ask that, dear Turner, does it have smile lines? 

I came first last night, I’m selfish and I’m sad, and I haven’t had the best baby I’ll ever have yet, let alone lost them. If never feeling like the pretty one is our culture, does that mean in 25 years we’ll look back and want to hold our own faces? Dear turner last night I almost asked him to spit in my mouth, but no one ever has. I don’t know how to ask for the unknown, I don’t know how to ask for what I haven’t already felt. That’s why I’m scared. 

I do know that I miss you. I do know that you miss me. What I don’t know is if you will take me as I am? Strung out on another man? I’m going home to sleep. Write back and let me know. 


Jo Barchi

Jo Barchi is a poet and essayist living in Chicago. They are a Midwest editor at Joyland Magazine and are currently working on a book of epistolaries.