Cate Peebles

The Next Plane

I step into the party
And stand beside a glass
Jug of vodka that looks
So clean, so just, more exact
Than any icy anecdote but
I sip cloudy tap water
Instead because I enjoy how
A veil will fall on anything
And sample all the pickled
Root vegetables spread
On a clean white cloth
Arranged like conversations
From across the room
Against a pictureless brick wall
Exposed just so in corsage
Formation, smart, even bold
Until I put one in my
Mouth and realize I
Had started to pucker
My lips to shut myself up
When I spout: Language
Is a field of broken tractors—
My words adolescent
Poltergeist stuck between
The Formica table and heavenly
Dust and the woman with Cruella
DeVille hair is a humid
Aztec bride eating hearty beets
On a toothpick; she barely
Blinks and that’s about it
So I move over to the girl
From Beirut who hovers
Alone next to a giant fan
That corrugates everything
We say and blows our gauzy pink
Dresses against opaque skin
Making clear our flesh and
Bone and semi-precious sweat
Otherwise we’re the phantoms
Here and would get
Away with it but she says
She has no experience
With clear spirits
Visiting us in this dimension
Except for the small ones
Still holding on to a fan blade
Before shooting off into wherever
Animals and children
She says,
But not dark ones with
Anger and blood lust
I’m here only 10 days
To see art and then
It’s back onto another plane
I say,
I would kill
For a séance
She nods coolly
Twisting her face into
A flapping, moth-eaten napkin
With two black button eyes
And I vaporize
Never grasping
How to exit a room

Cate Peebles' poems have previously appeared in Boston Review, Cannibal, Forklift Ohio, Octopus, La Petite Zine, Lit, Tin House, Washington Square, and elsewhere. She co-edits the online poetry magazine, Fou (, and lives in one of New York City's five boroughs.

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