Kentucky – Poetry: 1st Place

By Elise Pfeiffer

(After Allen Ginsberg’s “America”)


Kentucky, I think about breaking up with you all the time.
Kentucky, my father says you have a rude voice.
Kentucky, I have a crush on your best friend.
Her songs make me cry and I daydream
that she wrote them all for me.
Kentucky, I’m fed up with your sadness.
Why did I let you take the rest of my cigarettes?
Kentucky, I jumped the gun when I let you kiss me.
You never know what to do with my body.
Kentucky, I’ve still never been with a girl
and you insist I never will.
You push and prod me like the cattle
that graze on your grassy blue.
Kentucky, I’m just not in love with you
and I’m not sure that you can even tell.


Kentucky, your cheeks are ruddy and filled with stupid stuffs.
Your hills are blatantly unorganized and slim.
Kentucky, I ought to be more gentle with you.
I know you can’t bounce back like I can.
Kentucky, you’re not just a piece of money, a piece of flesh.
Your people they live under stones.
Kentucky, I’m sorry I treat you like
a stage one night and a dumping ground
for my shit-filled mason jars the next.
Kentucky, you are Persephone darkened by funny-men
who saw your roosters as a tourist attraction.
Kentucky, for a moment I forgot how unsexy smoke is.
It’s a dangerous sport we’re playing with you, dear
and Kentucky, I’m doing my best
to convince the others to love you again.


Kentucky, I’m going through an identity repair.
I stand at your mountain bottoms, combative, and scream.
I’m so angry, Kentucky.
I haven’t had an epiphany in weeks.
Kentucky, my mother says we’re codependent.
I think about breaking up with you
all the time but when I get down
to the choreography of blame.
Kentucky, I can’t make myself blame you.
You’re addicted to anxiety drugs.
Kentucky, when did you become such a boy?
Kentucky, I can’t find your footnotes — I’m at a loss for words.
I guess I’ll go join the workforce.
Down in the wet parts of your coal belly, there’s a mandate
of Silence, so Kentucky, please don’t speak to me.