2 Poems by Arti Gollapudi

Painting toenails and spilled polish

I can change I can change I can change I can change I can change I can change I can change

white leftist mother fuckers surrounding themselves with other white leftist mother fuckers
wearing three hundred dollar pants having clear skin as if I weren’t here trying to do the same strap
me into something stupid and expensive and rip out my chin hairs
move my apartment closer to the L train and teach me to love a smoothie with an avocado in it that
was picked and plucked by a stranger who we can’t ensure is under ethical work conditions
oh my god please for the love of god let me in I am rapping at whatever the fuck chamber door Poe
was talking about white leftist fake liberal ass mother fuckers
who are straight or gay and not somewhere floating in between and changing on a day to day basis
like me who know their shoe size who don’t spill coffee on all their books who have framed artwork
on their walls as opposed to me who thumbtacks concert tickets over paint cracks
white leftist mother fuckers LET ME IN
I can change

when I think of the moon landing I am no longer afraid of dying

I pick daisies out of a recycling bin
and paint my toe nails fluorescent colors
and eat brie cheese on my fire escape
I hum Minnie Riperton songs and keep lip gloss in my bag
I draft texts that I will send at 5pm and bookmark articles to reference
I keep my bush trimmed and my spirits high
but you don’t answer me until 10pm
and I am already home stoned full of ramen
watching something about space and infinity and objects
getting sucked into black holes that never get to emerge
like I have done time and time again
so I don’t answer until 6am
two days later
because when I think of the moon landing
I am no longer afraid of dying


Arti Gollapudi is an NYC-based comedic performer & writer with a bachelor of music from Berklee College of Music and a master of arts from NYU in performance studies. Currently, she is the diversity director of and teaches stand up classes at Brooklyn Comedy Collective. She hosts a variety show at Union Hall dedicated to dismantling body stereotypes called Yourself, Your Body and a one-woman show at Slipper Room about living in isolation called Boogie on the Brink. Her most recent book of funny poems and narratives about intimacy is called Boys I’ve Kissed & Hated and she is currently working on a new project focusing on writing about scars. She uses comedy as a tool to open dialogue about personal identity, trauma, and farts. Find her at www.artigollapudi.com, at @ArtiParty, or at @ArtiFartyPoems.

Courtney Cook is an MFA candidate at the University of California, Riverside, and a graduate of the University of Michigan. An essayist, poet, and illustrator, Courtney’s work has been seen in The Rumpus, Hobart, Lunch Ticket, Split Lip Magazine, and Maudlin House, among others. Her illustrated memoir, THE WAY SHE FEELS, is forthcoming from Tin House Books in Summer 2021. When not creating, Courtney enjoys napping with her senior cat, Bertie.