Two Poems by Lizzie Harris

American Internet

Young girls
were beginning to flirt
with indecency,
but never more
than in 1999
on a friend’s family
computer, in a chatroom
that was, at first, a public
frenzy — a layercake
of colorful names
with numbers, train lines
on a map — until
one name
would grab you
through a window,
and there glowed
a new kind of intimacy.
It was a game
of asking questions
you’d later answer
with untruths rooted
in a truthful estimation
of what another person
might want from you.
At 12 I was
30, with my husband
sleeping in the next room.
I was as pliable
as words
had always been,
but the screen
was like a foil
you angled to your neck
for a deeper tan.
And sitting before it,
we began
to let the world in
in a way
that was almost

American Internet

Even when I hide
you find me, display
annihilation in Technicolor.
I try to swallow it.
In the bad old days
they turned down the radio,
but today is spent
opening and closing windows:
Officer Murders Man for Taking the Stairs.
276 Girls Kidnapped from School.

Sometimes America
comes inside your building.
Sometimes America
is a window of cakes.
I try to chart myself somewhere
in the death tolls.
America values
the individual
only when it values the individual.
With this, I see the world
in layers: unsure of its build,
of what it wants
to build. It’s business
as usual in my room;
no call for blood, no one
calling. Existence, you bait
on a dull hook. I let you into my eye
like a webcam. Gravity, you thing
of gravity: what have you
dimmed in me?
The older I get,
the younger earth seems.
I love the things I love
so much, I fear I’ll keep
wanting them long after
I’ve died. In the future
I’ll tell my grandchildren how we held
atrocities like cities on a map.
How for a blip
time was incapable
of telling its story
so we settled
for documenting our salads.
So much of this world
we knew at too great a distance.
Life was so short
and death bloomed
from the screens.

From An Ordinary Misfortune

“This statement by an American man at the bar: Your life in Korea would have been a whole lot different without the US. Meaning: be thankful.”