editor’s note:

Dancing to Songs About Death

In 2018, I put together a collection of poetry called Dancing to Songs About Death. The title is in reference to my struggles with anxiety, particularly health anxiety. My goal was to make a book that was half memoir and half poetry collection, with a dose of stream-of-consciousness prose. The book opens with poetry about my childhood and then continues on into my 20s. I write about my anxiety, but I also write about failed friendships, romantic relationships, motherhood, fear of the passing of time, and my futile dream of becoming an actress.

by summer warner

For my first blog, I’d like to share 5 of my most treasured pieces from that collection, as well as a newer piece that I most recently wrote.

The Garage Sale Writer

When I write my flea market poems
When I dictate my clearance schemes
I’ve noticed, in fact
I ignore, without tact
punctuation beyond commas to breathe

Why won’t I input a period?
I love dashes and semis and such
I draw the squiggly lines
like the lyricist I am not

Why can’t I just type a dot?
A question mark was accepted! 

I suppose I can’t end my lines
I guess I can’t complete my sentences
when my metronome thoughts are keeping time
like a marching band of apprentices


Anastasia, your ghost
swings higher than all the trees

Anastasia, it flies
across the bars and the slide
Past the fence asking,

Anastasia, you linger 
If only I could just grasp 
the tips of your fingers, 
or the sound of your laugh

The wind is whispering
The grass remembers you,

And, when they bury you
cold and underground
this place will always hold the sound --
your name echoing from cloud to cloud


Water Song

This is a song of water
Blue, and rippled, and clear
The deep and the shallow,
the wavy and the slow
The only place where I always stay afloat
The only place where I’m not trapped below

I was once, though, remember
that time I nearly drowned
But, the water, it carried me to the top
carried my kicks, my splashes, my sounds
I am afraid of everything 

(I Am) Too Much

Aquarius rising
Sagittarius shining
Thrashing Cancer moon
I am drowning in emotion behind
a shield of orichalcum
In the stillness of the wild sea,
there swims Atlantis and me

Dancing to Songs About Death

I like the way the palm trees reflect in your sunglasses
I like the sound of the ocean as it roars against your eyes
Go ahead, turn on that radio
Let us compromise
I won’t say anymore and you won’t pretend to hear
Another song, another fear

I’m dancing to songs about death again
I’m grooving to a tune about disease 
I’m clapping to a rhythm that’s terminal
I’m singing with the greatest of ease
Vivace! Vivace!
Presto! Presto!
Play it lively and let it swell

I like the way my heart beats like it's the last time
I like the way the chills travel down
I’m twirling to songs about death again
So dizzy, I’ll never touch the ground

Carol Hathaway

If I could go back in time
If I could try on my possible lives
like different, old cardigans --
what would I see?

I spent my childhood watching Carol Hathaway
Her strength and power in a television hour
You watched her and wanted to be a nurse;
I wanted to be an actress

I’ll never be who I wanted to be 
I kept thinking that I had more time
I’ll never meet all of the people who I wanted to meet
I kept thinking that these dreams were mine

I am not ready for time to keep moving
I need the clocks to stop
Turn around, take me back down
to the room in California with the television set

Teach me, somehow, to forget.

Summer Warner is the prose editor at Violet Margin. Her work has appeared in multiple publications- including Scary Mommy, Medium, and The Mighty.

To read more from Summer and the rest of our Violet Margin staff, follow our blog and social medias!

Categorized as editorial

By violetmargin

The literary journal of the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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