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Past Lives

By Paige Elizabeth Wajda

You’re reading it the wrong way,

scanning the pages for hours, eyes glazed —

the way you let them go slack

at the stereogram posters in the optometrist’s:

a ship appears, or an apple, or a face.

Like that you peruse poetry, not savoring,

but slurping, not sipping, but shotgunning,

devouring, razing, waterboarding it

for an answer, slickly pouring over

rhythms and stanzas and similes

the words like gunfire. Why the violence,

why the rush? As though you aren’t interested

in reading anything for the first time.

As though you're seeking out

words that you once wrote —

lines to save your life —

lines from your other life.


Paige Elizabeth Wajda is from California and a member of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She spent four years teaching English in Poland before earning a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. Her work has recently appeared in Pulp Lit, Amsterdam Quarterly, and Hit Points: An Anthology of Video Game Poetry.


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