Lana Del Rey is releasing a book of poetry. It’s nice she’s had something to do since breaking up with her cop boyfriend, considering there aren’t many pop stars left to blame for the failures of the feminist politic. It’s called Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, and it’s supposedly due September 29th. In her Instagram announcement, she also claims the entirety of her advance is going to “different Native American projects,” which is nice, probably.
Since she first announced her upcoming poetry debut in September 2019, anonymous sources—who look strangely like me and my colleague Emily Alford—have been dropping rejected poems from the collection into our inbox. They vary in quality, but are all, without fail, “very Lana Del Rey.” The Gilded Age metaphors, thoroughly Connecticut wasp aspirations, and heavy-handed LA allusions practically drip from each one, like a saccharine Gucci fragrance, or the smell of old lace curtains.
In an effort to preserve them, for history, for the archive, for the canon of female poets, Emily and I have collected what we could below. Some are clearly unfinished, while others fully fleshed out, like Del Rey’s own imagined California landscape. Enjoy!
Goddamn regional man
You paint my cardbody in neutral hues
Your pitchfork is bleak and you blame the news
Promised a portrait of Nan but kept it for you
Cause you’re just a Grant
It’s just Woods you do
Slip your whisper
Through mile markers’ crack
Route Four river mouth begging
Throw off what is borrowed
In a rhinestone cloak trailing your blood
Amber as cliff walls cleaved
Full with Mulholland
Narraganset can and valve steam in your hands
No longer spawn of providence
Isle of Rods ridden hard and put away misty
Narrow saltwater straight
Tangy seawater stain
I fucked a townie in Rhode Island
That is what this poem is about.
The cool air flutters through my ponytail like
the trickle of your fingertips.
The condensation on my big gulp
makes my hands clammy.
The cashier smiles at me, and says I smell nice.
You bought it for me.
I dig 2 dollars out of my purse and pay him.
The asphalt is hot, but this love of ours is hotter.
“Your fingers entwined around my blouse like
the image of JFK, smiling, in a world where
only love lets us blossom like wildflowers that
grow along Santa Monica Blvd., down by the
record store, where our eyes met, smoldering
knowing we would destroy each other.
Marilyn and JFK, together, for a moment.”
Happy Fourth of July, Dad.
You wave at me from inside,
while outside, Uncle Jeff is grilling
a hot dog. It blisters, and he
turns it over, laughing.
I see you laughing, but
you are not outside with
us, in the warm sun.
Dad, please come outside.
It’s Fourth of July.
Like a pigeon along Hollywood Boulevard, I sit.
Here, in the sunlight, on a porch swing drowning in
the depths of a cool September breeze, swimming in lace.
I’m dreaming of you on the run.
Dreaming of you in a place somewhere I am not.
Won’t you come back to me, Mr. President?
“Think of all the children dancing on the backs of their Ford pickups,
like faeries, dancing under the bonfire of the Wild West.
Golden America, come to me. Golden America, a land of the free.
A land of the free for you and for me.”
You track the smell of oil in on your shoes.
A frown races across your face, its tires leaving skidmarks.
I can hear your heart, it’s running out of gas, my Nascar man.
Let me drive you to the station. I’ll wear the dress you like,
and buy us a Red Bull to share. We need the energy, to confront this.
This war, will it ever end?
I want this war to end.
It makes me sad, that this war
has no end.