Krystal Languell

I was experiencing summer ennui and my person suggested I “read a book with a plot,” so I picked up Middlemarch, which was the closest novel within arm’s reach. Inspired by Simone Kearney and Rachel Levitsky’s collaborative responses to the novel, but not having read their work, I began reading with an eye out for what might have been of interest to them. This was of course impossible and I instead started reading about fifty pages in the morning and then attempting to recreate the plot from memory in a poem each evening. 








on the topic of medical advice
blistering is a common treatment
when physicking falls short
the pills a fertile mother takes to 
get through a busy month of baking
the brown rather than pink recipe
has worked for years a tumor they 
might want cut but first it’s manners
among doctors offense his patient
cured better by a younger man better
because the servant was no longer sick
and with no cutting into her others 
from the brink of death some say
unnaturally no autopsy practice in 
place the young doctor thinks aloud
of graverobbing historical figures
to his wife’s disgust who says no 
misery please for us make discoveries
without upsetting people they have
a little consumer debt having rushed
the wedding the banker built the new
hospital though a low profession 
other bodies’ fluids and temperaments
says wife she is opposed to muck & bile



a second time a young woman refuses 
to obey a man and he’s dead by morning
‘by’ in this case stretches to include the
period of hours prior to his expiration
slumped over a picnic table in his cape
frantic work and the next day timeline 
skips ahead weeks a woman in grief 
what does she do how is it different than
sitting in her room with a few books 
and a window would be hard to notice 
his absence no one passing her a note
about what room to eat her dinner in 
next marker will be the day to open 
his desk someone interprets the will at
her its codicil appended to exert control
from the grave who’ll never receive a
portion of the wealth the only person 
she had spoken up for to split the land



Krystal Languell was born in South Bend, Indiana. She is the author of the books Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVox, 2011) and Gray Market (Coconut, 2015) and the chapbooks Last Song (dancing girl press, 2014) and Be a Dead Girl (Argos Books, 2014). In early 2014, Fashion Blast Quarter was published as a poetry pamphlet by Flying Object.

Recent work in 2015 includes a collaboration with Robert Alan Wendeborn, Diamonds in the Flesh (Double Cross Press), and a collection of interviews, Archive Theft (Essay Press). A core member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, she also edits the feminist poetry journal Bone Bouquet. She was a 2013-2014 Poetry Project Emerge-Surface-Be fellowship recipient and a 2014-2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council workspace resident.