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Katie Kemple

*content warning for themes of self-harm

Vampire Weekend releases a new album and hosts SirusXMU all weekend, making it a true vampire weekend for those of us listening in our cars stuck on the Coronado bridge

Vampire Weekend swims into my ears
like a perfectly cufflinked pinstriped shirt,
dripping off the sleeve of my former
self, which is to say, I'm no longer
in my 20s in Boston. This bridge leads
to Coronado, California. A man's
threatening to jump. So I sit in my car
turn the ignition off. Fuck, it's gorgeous.
An April morning surrounded by ocean.
It's not my fault if I arrive late. Listening
to Walcott looping on the hour, trying
to get out of Cape Cod. Well, here we are.
Mexico in sight. No drivers honking
or angrily shouting. Casually we follow
the police waving us to drive the wrong way
off the ramp. It's still a Vampire Weekend,
rerouted, a detour into Imperial Beach
up that slip of sand bursting in yellow daisies.
Crossing into Coronado from the south.
The day crowning my brown hair golden,
even the white streak looks chic, intentional
as chemicals. Hours later, I'll learn the man
had a knife. Survivors say the instant you jump,
you realize you want to rewind. I picture
myself climbing an unspooled tape cassette
out of the ocean, respooling it back into
my organs. Moving to California was not
like that. We're all Walcott sometimes.
I picture a twin me back east, cufflinked
to my ancestry. The cufflinks tossed off a bridge.

Vampire WeekendKatie Kemple
00:00 / 01:50

Katie Kemple's poems have been published by Ploughshares, Rattle, and The South Carolina Review. She has poems forthcoming in Pembroke Magazine and Drunk Monkeys. More of her work can be found at

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