i am alt lit

alt lit reviews

84.8 :: ‘airplane food’ by gabby gabby


airplane food’ by gabby gabby // nap, 2012


I usually judge poems by whether or not I would get a part of it tattooed on my body

I would get this line from ‘Airplane Food’ tattooed somewhere on my stomach, in bright red letters

I’m just going to swallow you whole, okay?


Airplane Food’ feels like one long poem, broken into 25 sections

the 25 poems aren’t titled, they’re numbered like chapters in a novel

and although the ‘narrative’ is severely jumbled and discrete, it keeps resurfacing through all the poems and holds them together 

There is a 23-year-old male in California.

There is a 19-year-old female in Virginia.

 ‘Airplane Food’ is about a long distance relationship between these two people

long distance relationships, aka perpetually wanting something you can’t have


I wouldn’t get these lines tattooed on my body but I might turn them into image macros for my desktop background:

Last night I woke up from my sleep and you were the first

person I thought about.

I feel like I should be bitter.

Bury me in a hole in the bottom of the world and just watch the loose dirt rise

and fall. It’s okay to laugh.

I want to ask you to unskillfully eat my heart with wooden chopsticks

but I don’t know how to start that conversation.


the poems jump around from scene to scene and thought to thought

Gabby Gabby sitting in a movie theater with her boyfriend: 

‘an excuse to sit / quietly in the dark / …for at least 90 minutes’

Gabby Gabby doing homework in the library: 

‘I am silently having a nervous breakdown

while trying to run regression equations.’

Gabby Gabby on a train

Gabby Gabby at the doctor’s office

Gabby Gabby walking around her new college campus

she seems mostly saddened and unimpressed with the world around her

she thinks a lot about people jumping off the Golden Gate bridge


this chapbook seems to straddle the fence between ‘alt lit poetry’ and ‘real poetry’

feel like I could show this book to my old english professor and not feel ‘embarassed’

and I could also loan it to one of my irl friends as proof that poetry isn’t ‘lame as shit’


from my POV, this book doesn’t try to tell you much about the world at large, or how to live, or what is meaningful

it isn’t a deeply intellectual book that you can puzzle over and think about for months on end 

the ‘voyeurism’ aspect is minimal, it isn’t full of juicy/gross/sexy Vice confessions

what this book does very well is create an atmospheric mood, and pierce you with it 

Come hold my hand while I jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.

I will edge up against your body as people shout to us from their cars.

Through the wind it will sound like they are cheering us on.

When we hit the water the San Francisco

salt will rush up our noses on an inhale.

It’s all tenderness and bruising.

This is the only thing I am actually looking forward to.

the writing is more sophisticated than a lot of ‘alt lit poetry’

you can tell that Gabby Gabby spent a lot of time working on this and revising it, thinking it over

I’m very excited to see what she comes up with in the future

underestimate Gabby Gabby at your peril


after reading this book a couple times I listened to this song and thought about girls that I don’t see anymore

I smoked a bowl and took a long walk 

missing people that you like is shitty

passed a tattoo parlor and stared at it for a long time, but I’m broke