Caroline Rayner | On P.S. Eliot

and it’s a sad decline
introverted romance in our troubled minds
a trying pine
depending on good fortune or coincidence all the time

Spread out on my twin bed, hiding from rain, pretending not to be sad, wondering how many days until spring break, how many days until my friends and I would drive 20 hours to Austin. This is how I heard Waxahatchee for the first time—how I fell in love with Katie Crutchfield’s lyrics. I remember bringing a boy into the studio for my radio show soon after returning from Austin, and I remember playing “Just” by Swearin’, Katie’s twin sister Allison’s band. And I remember wanting to crawl into a hole as we listened to Allison sing, “I just want you to love me.”

Katie and Allison started P.S. Eliot before Waxahatchee and Swearin’, while they were still living in Birmingham, Alabama. They played their last show in 2011. Two years later I was living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and all summer between brunch shifts, while scheming an escape to New York, I listened to their first album, Introverted Romance In Our Troubled Minds.

and i don’t really care about the future
i care about what keeps you away

Whenever I try to explain myself or defend myself or reveal myself, I die a little bit. I can’t do it. Not all the way. So I pull my knees to my chest and look at stars while riding shotgun. So I let mosquitos devour my legs. So I leave a party. So I cry in the shower.

I miss everyone and everything all the time. Like how we jumped into a turtle-filled lake and drank whiskey from jars and danced to records during a storm. Like how we set off fireworks on the patio in the middle of the afternoon. Like how we got high on giant rocks. Like how we biked all over the city. Like how we climbed out of windows.

How do you keep anyone around for more than a handful of years?

i have this sensibility i can’t suppress
and we carry such a heavy burden
with every vulnerable word we can’t express
and there’s nothing to lose
when there’s no room to move

And here is why I love P.S. Eliot, because Katie crams as many words as she possibly can into songs that rarely exceed three minutes. Because it feels like the world depends on saying everything right there, right then. Because I never know what I want to say until it’s too late. Maybe because I’m a Virgo, too much of a perfectionist. And sometimes I hate feelings. Or I am afraid.

you won’t, you won’t, you’ll never say
what you’re thinking about most every day

Everyone asks, and I wonder why I can’t hide in my car and put on this album.

What am I thinking while eating shitty vegan food in the middle of nowhere or while picking apples? What am I thinking about by the river? What am I thinking about as I scroll through my phone at the bar?

Sometimes I want to move back to New York.

but don’t go yet, old lipstick, old cassettes
clutter the carpet where my futile head rests
and i’d explain it, but i’ve long since dismissed
the thought of vitality, you’ll get nothing out of me

I made my ex-boyfriend listen to Introverted Romance In Our Troubled Minds as we drove back to his house after breaking up. I don’t know why. There was nothing to unfuck.

i’m sorry for the mess, you see my mind is somewhere else

I used to wish I could stay in the mountains during summer in the South forever. And I used to want all of my friends to live within easy driving distance. And I used to crave attention.

If I spend less time falling apart, then why do I still feel scraped out?

Maybe Katie is right when she says that no one wants to be alone, but I still want to stay in my bedroom. If I wrap myself in flannel and pot succulents all day, then I won’t get nostalgic or destructive. I can’t say how I feel, but I can listen to it all night long.


Caroline Rayner is a poet in the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She also works as an editor for Slope Editions. Her music writing can be found on Tiny Mix Tapes, The Le Sigh, and Impose. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Voicemail Poems, Big Lucks, Shabby Doll House, and Witch Craft Magazine. Find her on Twitter.