Altitude Sickness

Before we met, I happened to be a flying ventriloquist stripper. My dummy was Teddy Ruxpin and our act was really something. As we happened to be flying, my overcoat would soar. The trees, clouds, and orchid sky would watch our ozone voyage. Birds couriered ten-dollar bills or dropped a feathered fiver. Everything else came off with ease, a stratus haze of silk. And Ruxpin, he of swiveling head, raconteur for the ages, known for literacy skills applicable to children ages six to ten—when did he, you ask, assume autonomy? It was spring, the last of drizzle: our show sold out for days. Rocket ships and planets haggled scalpers for a ticket. When our last act concluded, Ruxie turned his eyes to Saturn. “This is zeitgeist!” he called to the crowd. And suddenly I wasn’t naked.



Eileen G’Sell’s poetry and cultural criticism has been featured in Boston Review, VICE, Los Angeles Review of Books, Hyperallergic, Conduit, and Salon. Her first full-length volume of poetry, Life After Rugby, was published in 2018, and in 2019 she was nominated for the national Rabkin prize in arts journalism. She teaches at Washington University and the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. She lives in St. Louis and New York. Find her on Twitter @Reckless_Edit.