Independence Day Weekend

Monday, July 07, 2014

(a collaboration with Todd Colby) 

Here amid the burned papers and empty cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a mere schedule conflict makes us intelligent again, and sacrificial.  Even Canada has rednecks, but no one is rude enough to call them rednecks.  And I suggest you respect the Bay of Fundy's red-violet mud should you visit Nova Scotia.  The bay has other plans for you, which become apparent once you surrender, much as you'd surrender. Let's just assume the gravity of summer is a good thing. Picnics with a certain sense of destruction are a metonym for the future approaching you of its own volition.  Certain things are hurtling toward you always.  The possibility of a June blue sky, say.  Or death, say.  What's that word that means "the ever-present potential for losing your edges"? Oh, those candied orange slices they serve with sugar all over them and when you bite into them it's a soft, squishy jelly that seems perfect for lounging around on, were it the size of a futon in Bermuda.  As long as we don't accidentally start a forest fire and get sued by the state of California, we could totally do that.   

Vision Board

Sunday, June 29, 2014

(a collaboration with Todd Colby)

I can't feel my fingers when the water gets cold, I'm soaking in it. As instructive as a grackle looking peeved on the sidewalk, by which I mean a starling, is how I feel on my better days. But there's also that pesky hum under my feet, encroaching upon my days in such a manner that I feel "not here." The kind of person who sounds better before they open their mouth is not the kind of person I am. Quite the contrary. I'm the most well-spoken person at all the Hollywood parties I'm never invited to attend. Meanwhile, I'm fashioning you a necklace. This stone stands for patience & this gold chain makes a sound like a bird if you twirl it above your head. There's no mistaking you or your kindness. There's a palliative whirr to it, like the leaves all alive in June or a cat falling asleep across your throat.

Banana Boats

Thursday, June 26, 2014

(collaboration with Todd Colby) 

We always knew you'd wind up the captain of a slew of banana boats.  Perhaps it was the captain's hat and the perfectly pressed slacks you were born wearing. We always knew we could count on you to navigate through rough waters or through that gelatinous mass you called "home." There were days we thought you'd never come back, and there were days.  The kind that make you feel like you've been put through a meat grinder, so that you just say, "That was a day." Your tiny captain's hat was always a point of reference for us. It soothed the nerves just to look over and see you checking your compass, polishing your brass bell, & seeming to mean more with each gesture than humanly possible. We hope you set aside some of your profits to pay your quarterly taxes. We rely on you to be the responsible one, as an anchor or as ballast for our days. Even watching you in your high chair arranging bananas into boats, we knew you'd save us, and perhaps, one day, even accompany us through the Straight of Gibraltar, over the Panama Canal, and perhaps even into the Red Hook Harbor where we'd celebrate your seemingly confident captain's demeanor by peeling the bananas you so bravely delivered to the city of our belongings. Ahoy, Cap'n!  Thanks for dropping by and delineating the factors that are relevant to your joy.

What Is a Domicile

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

My new book of poems from Noctuary Press, What Is a Domicile, is now available from Small Press Distribution. Below is a sample poem from the book.  (This poem originally appeared in South Dakota Review.)  

Also, I will be reading at Word Books in Brooklyn on Thursday June 19th with Leah Umansky, Elvis Alves, and Lisa Marie Basile.  I'd love to see you there.

On the Delicate and Non-Delicate Movements of Weather and Time

At 2 a.m. the humidifier sounds like crickets and then I know I should move to the country.  

I let my large gray yoga ball sit on my reading chair, even though in times past that would have meant something ominous if I woke up wrong.  But I know I’m undergoing a transformation because, when they do show up, the ghosts in this room keep me company now.  One will hang around all matter of fact and affable, like a wise old dog, before leaving again, and then I’ll just go back to sleep. 

My boyfriend tucks me in for the second time and tries to sneak away to do more work.  “Goodnight,” I say, then hold up my arm and make a beak.  Then I say, “Remember shadow animals on the wall?”  He laughs and turns to go.  He knows I’m always trying to start conversations about shadow animals when people are trying to say goodnight. 

What do you expect?  One lifetime is very short, but it’s hard to realize when it’s happening.  Except sometimes it’s easy to realize.  Sometimes you’re almost a year later in a room in Brooklyn waiting for a blizzard, when just a second ago you were almost a year earlier in a different room in Vermont sitting on a bed with a Vanity Fair, a pregnancy test, and an empty bag of M&Ms you don’t remember eating.  

My friend tells me there’s a word for this made up by a theorist.  She can’t remember the theorist’s name or the word.  My friend is very intelligent, but we like to half-remember things when we talk.  It’s just what we do.    

Physics calls it “everything happens at once and all the edges touch.”  I believe I read that somewhere or heard it on PBS and didn’t just see it in a movie.  

I will be the theorist and I will call it effleurage, which actually means “a delicate stroking motion.”  In my theory, it means that and it also means “the mind and body’s flagrant disregard for notions of the consistent forward movement of time.”  A delicate and non-delicate motion. 

April 30th poem

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30th

I wish I lived someplace more pastoral so I could write my poem.
The baby wakes at six to walk in circles like a visiting dignitary
or Godot character, then gaze out the window at all the rain
and say "lala" (water).  It is raining on the bags of trash piled
across the street and also on the bags of recycling.  Every April
I think about how the Kansas sky becomes that terrible-beautiful
green, the neighbors' flowers slashes of color by the porch.
By late May, the lilacs.  Once their smell came wafting, even,
through the open windows while you lifted a sheet over the bed
with your mother before tucking the corners.  Lift-waft-tuck.
You didn't know it then, but if you could live inside that moment,
it would be like one of those movies about the afterlife or about
the beginning of everything.

April 29th poem

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Mirror

Clif sighs,
takes a sip from his cup,
& looks vacantly into the middle distance,
so the baby sighs,
takes a sip from his cup,
& looks vacantly into the middle distance.

April 28th poem

Monday, April 28, 2014

Reading and Writing

Finish unloading groceries and eating a snack of hummus and pita chips.  Sit down to write poem with a movie playing in the background in which Patrick Swayze plays a hillbilly cop.  Begin trying to read a poem by Ruth Stone.  Tell C that I wish I still had my own room to go into to read.  He begins talking about gluten, how he thought it was a sugar problem some people have with it, but it's actually a protein problem.  Say, "OK.  I'm going to read and write now."  Begin trying to concentrate on reading a poem, but look up to see a scene in the movie that has several actors I recognize, but younger, and begin naming some of them.  C gets up to open a bottle of wine.  Sit at desk with back to the TV to look through notebook.  Hear a bunch of screeching tire noises from the TV.  Tell C that I will take some wine, too.  He doesn't pour another glass, but leaves the bottle on the counter.  Get up and pour 1/2 glass of wine.  Sit down at desk again.  Pick up a different book.  James Schuyler is saying, "Suppose you had your life to live over/ knowing what you know?/ Suppose you had plenty money"  Helen Hunt is playing the violin on TV.  She is on a porch in Kentucky in a flowered dress and says she is the violin teacher.  Wish that you were on a porch in Kentucky.  She has the same generic southern accent that non-southern actors always have in movies.  You consider looking up where she is from to further justify your annoyance.  Begin writing a poem in which "the baby toddles toward a boy with a basketball/ lifting both arms and waving as he toddles/ as if greeting a long-lost Army buddy."  Wonder if the Army buddy would really be "long-lost," and if these buddies would really greet each other that way.  Think about the confusion of the boy with the basketball.  It was unclear whether the baby was greeting him specifically, or just showing excitement.  Either way, the boy was unsure how to react.  Drink wine.  Read a couple Schuyler poems about summer plants and wish for summer, even if the "sun smites."  It is late April, but it feels like another Schuyler March-- "lacks charm."  Realize you are simply going through the book looking for phrases to write down, and that you would rather do this than write your own poem tonight, but that really you would rather go to bed.

April 27th poem

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Middle Age 

She had had a child in middle age, a fact which, when she was pregnant, had caused her mother to exclaim, "It's like we're in a parallel universe!" And it was true-- it was like that, like another possible narrative leaking into the more familiar, more probable narrative of childlessness. Her son was now over a year old, and every day, he exhibited more and more preferences, tendencies, and markers of his character.  Some of these markers of character might persist into young adulthood, might be part of the person he would become, as had happened with her younger brother. One day he exhibited a preference not to listen to "Islands in the Stream," but then he exhibited the quality of tolerating "Jackson." She was still young enough that she could take him to the park and hold on to him as they went down a slide, then walk around behind him for forty minutes as he walked in circles and toddled up to older children to screech at them with excitement. But she was not so young that this activity didn't make her fall into a deep sleep as soon as her son was asleep for the night. She would wake up two hours later, confused about whether to stay in bed or not, then get up to eat a little something. Occasionally, she would pick up a book of poems or short stories, then look up after a while to see that it had become much too late. 

Sometimes over the course of the day, the idea of "strength" would occur to her.  She would think in a desultory way of the different kinds of strength or fortitude she could exhibit. Her idea was that it was a strength of character she needed now, but she thought about how physical strength and endurance would come in handy, too. Then she thought about how in her mid- to late-twenties she had experimented with becoming physically strong at various times. One memory involved being in a dim, small yoga studio at the 12th Street gym in Philadelphia and being led through a class that involved holding the crow pose for a long time. She balanced on her hands with her knees on her upper arms while a yoga instructor around her own age at the time talked about fortitude. But she can't remember how much emotional fortitude she actually felt at the time, despite being able to balance the weight of her entire body on her arms like that. She may have felt a sense of accomplishment, a shadow of youthful arrogance even. Probably some hunger. Those classes always made her so hungry.
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