Danielle Wheeler

Courtesy Danielle Wheeler



I saw inside Katie Holmes’ mouth I saw inside
her soul. Is this a small town
where ominous murders happen in the first scene?
Take it easy, Deputy Dewey
we were just–we were just saying with our mouths
how everything
is out of control. No,
next scene. After the music. Before the real characters. “He’s an outcast,
but those lips say otherwise.” Not that I’d know,
I didn’t get kissed until I was 17
in a heavy rain. Hard to say
what we were saying with our mouths, we were just sad. The rain is never
hard enough. My god there are some lives
I just
really want,
along with being beautiful. Katie Holmes looks beautiful–
Don’t worry, she won’t die. The brunettes always live.
I wonder how old I will be
when she dies in real life
But first they need a long shot of the school, of the sun and midriffs. It’s what I thought it’d be
when I was a kid. It wasn’t like that,
and this school is so full of adults
wearing our faces; what English teacher would say that,
would even talk that way?
I want to pass notes
with someone. “We have to figure out what this means
before it’s gone.” But you can’t have it,
whatever it is that you want. It sits over there,
out of reach. Everything is out of reach
even other people your age. Even love. There’s always
a curator, a wry curator
to explain the differences
between you
and everyone else. I never even wanted
to wear their uniform, but I did
want to be pretty. I chose wrong.
I didn’t have the guidance
to tell me who I was yet. You have an hour
to sit, to just sit with these people. It’s preparing you for
everything. Speak
in their language, if there isn’t
too much loss
between you. It’s happening. Now
the leggy one is dying, now the townspeople
are understanding, now
she’s reaching her hand
for something
you don’t have. It’s noon, it’s normal,
then everything gets creepy. Welcome to town. That guy
is definitely
a vampire. Don’t trust
that guy. Not with your heart, sweater-heart,
they’re all hypnotized. But someone
will stand up to fight it. Josh Hartnett
always knows. Do they all
have to get those awful bangs,
to join this secret alien club? Everyone
is against me, and my best friend is acting weird. The teachers
are in on it. There’s an angst
in the hallway
it smells that specific way,
just like you remember it
even if you think you have forgotten. Go back,
you’ll see. And while you are there
get your death metal CDs out of the basement;
Bobby needs them
to save the world. It’ll keep rewinding.
Sarah Michelle
Gellar will run down the street
in her prom dress,
but that was years ago.



Said with those messed-up teeth in the parking lot, this song it was in my dream, it played in the dream. it was the song of the dream. there were words but i cannot decide from what i see in waking time due to the motions of that thought, i could find a man, or a woman in her eyes, to speak it to         to never be understood is the horror, said that dick with those his spent teeth to close on me       hotxxx  but wasn’t in it thinking as the way we can divide reason, wat??? into no song whatsoever that haunts us, over baby, in the parking lot baby Sarah she talked about a ghost               as if that was the thing but it wasn’t the thing it wasn’t the guts either oh my god, xxx said, your grill is hot and oh my god, what does that even mean when i am singing about willow trees when there i was buried because that’s right, i’m dead, (and all this in a mall)     i cannot understand, like one section of song that descends into every old bone knows it, i’ve never even seen a willow tree the song was inside and then i could see, still alive xoxx         it was a million of like everything and there glittering there being no nature that we can inside try to imitate what voices were left when they buried them there to find, and if it comes out this way but no only haunts the mall, xoxoxxx, where our bodies buried they walk above but i         have the money and the want and do you want to believe, baby, they say, the food court lighting our hell they say baby over and over and i hear it, and i hear it oh         baby you are really my     baby and we are dead   i got out of there like             so quick           xxx



That leaves what’s in pictures and what’s actually

I think my weight goes up and down
But I don’t care

A hollowed corn in the center of death
Moves in the breeze

There is no electricity to trace me
So I can watch or

I don’t know, gasp–
Gasp is the word at the end of the sight

Where everything levels where we lost
Beyond losing because

Even a trace has turned silence.


via Danielle Wheeler’s chapbook, Teenage Exorcists, from Slim Princess Holdings



Danielle Wheeler lives and teaches in Austin and was the Rona Jaffe fellow in poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Teenage Exorcists is available from Slim Princess Holdings, and the poems can be found online at The Destroyer, Dreginald, and elsewhere.


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