Feature: “songs we used to dance to” by courtney marie

Release Date: March 31, 2022
Publisher: Goliad Media Group, LLC
Genre: Poetry


the world is on fire but everything is fine. you’re invited to a party. there will be dancing. a poet falls in love with you. we want this to last forever. somewhere hidden, a garden blooms. a revolution overdue. illness and isolation. the misery of hope. the comfort of madness. a forest of contradictions. you’re not sure what’s real anymore. a ghost has gone missing. we haunt this place now. nothing will ever be the same.


don’t get your hopes up is a powerful collection of declarations rounding corners, running to embrace. These poems hold monsters next to notes. Together, they say, “i build myself a deep nest,” as though to imagine an ever-shifting space of both reckoning and healing in times of despair. It is precisely here, in “the place just behind the eyes,” that seeing becomes a political act, as clear as the avowal to never look away. Let the poems of don’t get your hopes up work through nothing less than magic. – Sophia Terazawa

When Courtney Marie writes in the title poem, and the way we talk about it/when we don’t talk about it, she distills this collection’s accomplishment of giving voice to the peculiar aches of our most intimate relationships. Her poems’ elisions and prolepsis dilate with vulnerability, and it is from a bold and tender place where she speaks to vulnerability threat of hurt and its promise of grace. These poems understand that when we are at our most vulnerable we are neither lost nor disappeared but only misplaced. These poems know our present is crowded with the past, and that ears can just as soon strain to hear a mother’s footsteps as drown a voice with ocean. This collection speaks those oceans that span the distances between who we love, who we lose, and who we find again. Put simply, these poems are love, which—despite and because of our brokenness—find us, again and again. — Paula Mendoza


things that didn’t matter

there were many flowers but no shade

all my poems had depressing titles like 

i was always outdoing myself with existential grief

we all developed anxiety disorders

& everything felt worse in summer
before the winter dread set in

sometimes we built a fire in the yard of the house
on the land that was stolen and stolen and stolen
and sold to me, which i thought about all the time
not knowing what to do about it

we had a thousand impossible dreams
crushed daily by the systems that claimed to save us

we were in love
regardless of how badly we knew it was all going to end

the broken house we were born in
was built on recklessness and greed
& in our inherited selfishness
oblivious to our own demise:

we still made music

& watched the birds in the evening
we still grew flowers

we still made love sometimes
& laughed when we felt happy

& sometimes we really were happy
among the flowers

sometimes we truly believed
we would be saved

how to save the world

write down all the ways
we are connected
[to each other /
to every living thing]

replace [religion with art /
art with magic /
magic with wonder]

unmoor yourself from the conventional idea
[that we cannot be saved /
that our actions are too small /
that to dream is hopeless]

make an inventory
of everything holy
create a blueprint
for future generations

light a candle for those we’ve lost
sing a song around a campfire
dance with fierce abandon
conjure spells to cast out evil
let go of the pieces that no longer fit

protest protest protest

bury your heart in the woods
and return ready for war

we must fight
[against being disposable /
against the greed of the powerful]

write a letter to yourself
tell yourself that it is possible
for love to flourish

tell yourself we’re going to give it
everything we’ve got

somewhere out there it’s all on fire

& i am always waiting 

(on what?)

something that may never happen 

every time

this despair is relentless

my ghost [is working overtime /
haunting my ability to function]

reality is fluid

i cannot 

concentrate on anything

impossible to think straight

i feel
guilty for squandering so much time

i lose
endless days to sadness

but every night we party a vicious carousel

a vicious carousel

i am
turning into myself so slowly
impossible not to be afraid of everything

somewhere out there, it’s all on fire 

& i am just one body
not dead

(not yet)

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About the author

courtney marie is a writer & artist based in denton, texas. they are the author of don’t get your hopes up (2018, Thoughtcrime Press) and songs we used to dance to (2022, Goliad Media). their work has appeared in Nat Brut, The Boiler, Thimble Literary Magazine, and beyond. cm enjoys making weird & sentimental art with/for their community, exploring the world, and playing pinball. they live with three cats, cry all the time, and are forever writing letters & sending snail mail in a desperate attempt to connect with the outside world. they are the co-founder & director of the artist collective spiderweb salon.

Twitter: @fiveglue

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