Kaylie Johnson, Central Michigan University


My cousin Neal told me I’m a robot.
I can tell you that there are nineteen ones
in the binary code for love.
That’s why nineteen is the number of love,
people celebrate February nineteenth
by giving each other a Robot’s-dozen of roses.
Lovers sweep partners into dustpans of their intimacy,
throw their grains into garbage bins,
and pick hairballs of each other
from their bristles—
it’s romantic.

Last summer my friend told me about Montana and grizzly bears
as we hiked through the woods,
ten minutes later
we found ourselves between a mamma bear and her cub.
We were stuck on a bridge over a swamp
three-miles deep into the trees,
it was thundering when the police found us—
big ol’ guns across their backs.
I don’t talk thunder, bears,
or imminent threats anymore.
My eyes are up to bat
at the maintenance guy pitching
his sweet, deep voice over my desk.
Next week he’ll do that broom thing to me,
sweeping and whatnot,
until I’m in a garbage bin, literally.

I once held a hand until sweat
rivered through our creases,
but that wasn’t the sweeping kind of love,
that was crying-together-at-a-funeral love.
I sleep in a flamingo position
diagonal across my bed.
What does the flamingo position say about me?
Or about my love?
That there’s a Bermuda triangle of love between my knee and my thigh?
That whatever makes its way there
will be lost in a sea of 750 thread count?

I change my sheets after every meal
of toast and peanut butter.
If someday my love is allergic to legumes,
I will give up the bed snacks
until the weekend they’re out of town.
I’ll tell them what I’ve done,
that I’ve had relations with peanut butter.
This will be a perfect time for them to break up with me,
tell me it’s the peanut butter,
when really they fell in love with the fuzz head
who knits blankets out of her kinky sex toys.
That’s when I re-commit to peanut butter in bed.

The German word for falling in love is verlieben.
I didn’t even know that until today
and I’m eight years deep into Deutsch.
English doesn’t have a single word for
“to fall in love,”
but let’s say the word is legumate,
since we’ve been talking about peanuts for a while.
If we ever legumate,
I’ll give u my leg and we’ll spread like peanut butter
on my toast crumb sheets,
my robot elbows creaking as the mattress shifts
with your weight.

Kaylie Johnson is a poet from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is looking forward to graduating from Central Michigan University in May 2016. She studies English and Anthropology, but also enjoys reading comic books and thinking about possible meanings of life. Kaylie has some friends who inspire her endlessly, and who will be asked upon graduation to follow her wherever she goes, ultimately forming a continuous train of friends that spans across the continental U.S. She hopes to someday meet Billy Joel.