City Of [Poetry]

by Hillary Kobernick

“With luck, love lends us beauty,
not the right to keep it”
–Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

I borrow Boston, city of,
and when I am really desperate
I borrow all of pathetic, self-righteous
Massachusetts. I borrow John Adams
and then I borrow Sam Adams.

I live in a diabetic peach boiling
with pesticides and large hands
steady beats grinding against
the curved ass of a Coca-Cola can.
I live in hell. Atlanta is the reason
I know hell is always personal.
Some people like it hot.

Boston is pornography tucked
behind my bookshelf, the Virgin
I pray to: save me from myself,
all the me in my decisions.
There must be mercy in the world.
Mercy, too, is personal.

I often borrow 4/5 a bottle of wine
not for beauty, but for company.
I live in a whiskey rind.
Beauty is a clean cut on a dead hog.
I live inside my personal hell.
I live inside the deep-throated
National Laugh. It was written
by Yankees. I live inside a map
written by Yankees. I live in the
city called the Personification
and Banality of Evil.

I live inside the thermometer.
I live in what wishes to be a rainforest
but is really just a mound of kudzu.

I hate the South like my generation
learns to hate racism.
I hate the South like I’m from Seattle—
which is true.
I hate the South like I lived there.
For three years. With my ex.
Which is also true.

I vacation in bottles of Pinot Grigio.
Atlanta is a depressant. Places kill.
Atlanta is the childhood trauma
I will go to therapy for
when I move to Chicago.

I imagine calling Atlanta
long-distance in January
with drunk apologies.
I imagine calling Atlanta
sober in June and
saying I didn’t mean it.
I’m so over it I almost
deleted her number
but I want
my cat back.
This is personal.



Hillary Kobernick is from the City of Emeralds, Jets, and No Umbrellas. She currently lives in a village outside Chicago, where she pastors a small church. Her poems have appeared on Button Poetry and in literary magazines in the U.S. and Canada including DecomPBellevue Literary Review, and FreezeRay. She has competed at the National Poetry Slam four times, representing the City of Personal Hell and the City of Therapy. Photo by Marie Kavadias.