from dumpsters & birds & trauma, by Claire Alexandria

Claire Alexandria left a comment on your sad post. She has survived something like 9,551 days on earth. dumpsters & birds & trauma is a yet to be published project she wrote in 2016 and constitutes book 1 in her series of dumpster poems. You can find more of her work at TYPO, DIAGRAM, Dreginald, and elsewhere.

from dumpsters & birds & trauma


The dumpster in our backyard attracts tourists. When you set on fire an indestructible thing, this is what happens: people want to jump in. They came to see its crimson paint contrast with the fading winter afternoon, or to feed the mouth of a monster, or just to find out the fuss, or to tell a legend to their children about the entry way to the earth’s infinite stomach. But now people talk about how they don’t want to live anymore.

Smoke devours the air. People are finally screaming. I lie alone at night with the shades lifted. It glows red out there. When I couldn’t sleep, I had to find a replacement for dreams. We huddle in this house carefully apart. When we get too close we remember the spark. Stanchions lie scattered on the lawn.

When dancers die here, I cut the electricity. We sit in the darkness of deep space and the wind rushes over us howling louder than the people. It has an expert whistle. What is a memorial if not a giving over of your control to a world willing and ready to take you?

When dad died I didn’t have to worry any longer about his rock music clogging the house or my brain. Now I can hear myself thinking a few times a day.

The birds learned sad songs when they came back to our neighborhood the first Spring after the fire. In the afternoon sometimes when death has no customers I hear them trying to remember a happiness they’re not sure they ever had.


I grow on trees now. You know somebody who looks like me. A metaphor is a comparison that makes two things truer. There was a week when the people on my street seceded from this country and printed me on their xerox paper as a symbol of currency, of food, of weight. Then everyone got bored. I was maybe asleep for most of it. They let me know afterward what had happened. They’d worried about waking me up. They said it seemed like lots of little angels were jumping into my ears as if on a suicide mission. Which suggested I was on fire. Why wake a fire. I told them I understand.

I’ve always prided myself on understanding more than anything. What kind of a mockery is that. When you understand why they’re hurting you but don’t do anything about it. Have no pride in stopping the pain. Just in understanding it. I think that’s disembodiment.

One day the sky was laughing at me and I told it I didn’t think that was very nice. But it made me smile. I said you’re right. Sometimes you want to talk to somebody so badly but you know if you do they’ll try to shove your words back into you, smother you like a fire. And you’re thinking, but my fire’s for them. And god keeps giving you incompletes on your report card, that cruel woman. And you’re crying in the parking lot, bent over, half in, half out of your car, not sure if you’re trying to be seen, or to hide. Sometimes I seem to myself more like a second person. I see me as first only later. I see me as third just as often this year.

People have started to make a profession of shepherding people to our backyard. They make good money. They buy new land once they’ve emptied it of people. They sell the land to new people. The new people are shepherded to our backyard. It’s spiritual, one of the shepherds told me. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t speaking that week. And looking past him, I just the saw the big eyes of all the people who’d follow us here … Now sometimes when my friends and I talk about the latest genocides and we have trouble to empathize with all those pains piling in deaths, I tell them, just think of these people as eyes, imagine all their eyes rising to meet you, a pool of despair.


Telling stories is a good way to sabotage reality. I read that on a gravestone in my dream once. That’s when I started writing this book. It hurts doesn’t it. I just mean. This living. I haven’t spoken to my mother in over a month. It’s just us living in the same house not talking to each other. I don’t even look at her anymore. I imagine yelling at her. I imagine kicking her out of the house. But I think only people with jobs and more years on earth get to do that to other people. Or I mean. Only people who have birthed someone get to eject their birthed one from their living space. I mean I always feel smaller than something and I think it’s her. I’ve started eating my own hair. Is every world you imagine not your own? I’m very disappointed in myself right now but crying seems like the only path to sleep and writing seems like the only path to crying and body is the path to writing I always fail to notice. I’m a fucking path I walk all over and ignore. I take me everywhere. All over myself. I am a stampede of my own footprints. I am in a fight with my body b/c I knew this was a good way to ensure winning and I always wanted to know what it felt like to win something.

A skywriter clouded out for us “THIS IS THE MODERN CONDITION” on my friend’s last birthday party. I don’t know where they got the money from to pay for this. When I asked they joked they printed it. I don’t hang out with my friends that much though. I’m alone mostly. So if all these stories start to make you jealous remember maybe that I’m jealous of myself too. I mean it’s okay. You are and I are probably here right now if these words are happening. I can’t wait to be mistranslated into other languages. I can’t wait to feel a great distance from myself. My name just something I use like a key to unlock a door to other people. But not something that really says anything about me. I am so many more people than that. A lot fits inside of me. Sometimes two bodies are one person and sometimes one body has at least two people in it. I am my favorite house on my street and I hate it here. Thanks.


The tenser part of me is less appealing to read. Well then what are we writing if we want everything to be digestible? A communicate. But it feels like I can’t do that right now unless you are ready to listen to a very dense thing. I am so heavy I feel like I am sinking through this page. Sinking through this bed. The fingers on my right hand hurt. Cuz I spend so much time on my laptop. That’s how I get through the years. That’s how I get enough space to separate stories. Hurting my hand on a keyboard and bashing buttons is most of what goes in between. Have you ever just lain in your bed all day. With none of the technology but you and the bed and the prefects of comfort. I want a stone age with a bunch of amenities I don’t have to notice like an air conditioner. It’s been summer here for 20 years. Do you know how uninteresting you feel when you let go of all the screens I’m always shoving in my face? I feel very unequipped to deal with the earth. I can’t wait until this story stops telling itself to me. Yes I am a girl out of touch with my body. Yes, I am my own muse.