Lauren Russell is the author of chapbooks including Dream-Clung, Gone (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2012). Her first full-length collection, “What’s Hanging on the Hush,” will be out from Ahsahta in 2017. Russell’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online publications including eleven eleven, jubilat, Better, and boundary 2, among others. Her reviews may be found in Aster(ix), Jacket2, The Volta, and elsewhere. Russell holds an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and was the 2014-2015 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.
Helen was never in Troy. She had been transposed or translated from Greece into Egypt. … The Greeks and Trojans alike fought for an illusion. —H.D.
I am always the woman in red.
I am always huddling in some round room.
Even when I am not wearing red, I am still the woman in red.
To be forever single is like wearing a flag to a funeral.
“It is always more satisfying to harbor a secret crush,” Helen
warned Paris, but neither he nor the thousand ships was listening.
Helen in Egypt’s identity crisis is attributed to the author’s:
“Did you see H.D. in Borderline? She looked like a heroin
addict before heroin was even a thing.” Opted instead
for mediums, furniture rattling, Freud.
“I hear James Franco is playing H.D. in a new bioflick
from Focus Features.” I am confusing the story of H.D.’s death
with the story of Gertrude Stein’s, Bryher a stand-in
for Alice B. Toklas, gender expression reversed.
Q: What is the answer? A: In that case, what is the question?
I feel least black around those who are confident
of their blackness. I feel least queer when told
I can’t be a butch so I must be a femme.
I am I because I will never learn to drive.
Life structured toward a pedestrian mobility.
I take a bus. Passing under numerous bridges.
And stop outside a museum. Beside a statue of Helen.
In Egypt or Troy? (Do I wear my skin like a costume
or a uniform? Do I wear my hair like a fountain?)
published in The Brooklyn Rail online, September 2013, and in Tarpaulin Sky Magazine, “In Utero,” June 2015