NaPoWriMo #30

Monday, April 30, 2018

Affect Theory 

At night I peer into the scrying mirror of my 
phone to learn news of the full moon just 
outside, how the Scorpio moon continues 
to reverberate, and we’ll be feeling love spread
outward like spilt treacle, which is just how
British people say molasses.  Once I was fifteen 
and climbing into the bucket of a Ferris wheel 
with some kid from one of my classes.  I think 
he was a wrestler.  The moon: huge & I caught 
a mania, a spell of longing about it.  The trance, 
I guess, of a teenage poet.  That and the size of 
my new hoop earrings must have scared him, 
and he got off the ride metaphorically shaking
his head.  Right Ferris wheel, wrong boy. Who
knows how I came to be there that night, seated
next to some Mike and his neck.  That was the
fest in Heidelberg, and we were kids from the 
American school, stumbling around all new.
That was the same spring Crissy’s mom picked
up some British teenage boys hitchhiking and 
made them stay the night.  She felt sorry for 
them, how they’d spelled “Heidelburg” on their
sign.  She fed them dinner and turned them 
over to us, who subjected them to Harold &
Maude and feelings in a darkened living room. 
Oh, boy.  All morning I dreamed of a poet boy
who tried to engage me in an elaborate game 
of charades, when I just wanted him to spit it
out already.  Later I would see him rising 
naked from his mother’s bed, and have a 
fit of longing for a back that I had known.  

NaPoWriMo #29

Sunday, April 29, 2018

I Am Strange Here

(after a line by Merwin) 

I am strange here and often as a child
I would find myself walking uphill, for instance, 
and wondering who “I” was—who am 
I          am I me         who is me      
Sound can travel in weird ways—
raccoons trying to break in through 
the roof sound like they’re already in 
the wall   Or say you are a new mother but 
old by then, trying out the breast pump for 
the extra milk the baby would never take 
from a bottle, you could swear the repeated 
sound of the sucking mechanism was talking 
to you, repeating something like your love is 
cold                 your love is cold       you’re
wondering, Is that a Prince line?  Or the devil 
maybe, but right now you are too tired to care

NaPoWriMo #28

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Postcard to RBW

I send you a picture of my child holding up a spectacular branch against a background of weeds, explaining that I’ve lost the will to weed, and you write back, “I wish I could come fix things for you.”  The irises by the back step didn’t bloom this year, all bunched up there together and proliferating in one spot.  The time when I was supposed to divide them was also the time some other horrible equation entered my home.  The algebra of abuse, the geometry of “I’m not crazy, you’re crazy.” The number of years spent with the wrong man divided by the times I looked at him sleeping and wondered at his intelligent hands.  I don’t know if I’ll make it to the sea this year  is what I thought, but of course I’ve already gone.  We took selfies by the sea, two-thirds of us weird sisters.  This brand of friendship that can keep a soul alive while endlessly marveling, marveling at the limits of our power in the wrong environment.  I’ll see you when the hurly-burly’s done.  

NaPoWriMo #27

Saturday, April 28, 2018


“As the last card in a spread, Judgment would mean a good ending of the Seeker’s troubles through more spiritual application to his problems.”

It’s hard being a poet, all the tarot work 
and earthly limitations.  Keeping your empathy
close to the skin, as a poet friend might say.  It’s 
only right that poets should be a little in love with
each other if they like each other’s work, can see 
the other person paying attention to the world,  
trying hard to be a human.  At night I can’t sleep 
and I do a quick reading—six-card divination—
that ends in Judgment.  The bare blue bodies of 
the rising dead in the Rider Waite deck are a sight 
to behold, arms lifted, faces heavenward.

NaPoWriMo #26

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Guys Like a Positive Attitude

Jennifer said it in high school.  In my
memory she’s doing her hair, crimping every
painstaking bit of it and Aquanetting it
to a spiky web.  Guys like a positive 
attitude. Was she serious?  Sometimes 
she would say things that she meant 
seriously but which sounded funny.  
I think she was saying it as a true fact, 
as something she had noticed.  For years
it went around in my head as something 
funny—my goth friend saying off-handedly
guys like a positive attitude.  At that age
it wouldn’t have occurred to us to wonder
what girls like.  We liked sneaking into the
attic to look at Burt Reynolds in Playgirl from 
the seventies and rolling our eyes.  Oh 
God!  We liked dressing up in Anna’s black 
formals and rolling around on the unmade 
bed taking pictures.  We liked reading novels.
Jennifer was reading The French Lieutenant’s
Woman for school.  I remember seeing the
movie around that age and wondering about 
all the waiting.  How romantic to possibly be 
ruined by love.  But really it was sex that would 
have ruined her.  I read everything I saw, 
my mom’s copy of  The Hotel New Hampshire
anthologies at Anna’s house.  Once I tucked 
myself into a corner and read Cancer Ward
by Solzhenitsyn before dinner at Anna’s cousins’.
They had a whole room attached to the living room 
that was just books and a piano. I remember 
reading a story by Dorothy Parker called
 “The Big Blonde” one Saturday at Anna’s and 
looking up dazed, thinking, “Oh.  How very sad.”  


NaPoWriMo #25

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


The alarm goes off and my son walks into the room in his bedtime polo shirt asking if it’s daytime.  I tell him that it is.  “You could knock Ms. Hunt over,” he says.  Ms. Hunt is his pre-K teacher.  I don’t know if he means that I personally could knock her over.  Maybe I could, if I caught her off guard.  She is smaller than me, but younger and has the look of a scrappy girl who played softball but cleaned up nice for the homecoming dance.  I tell him that “You could’ve knocked me over with a feather” is an old-fashioned expression for saying you were surprised.  He asks me to repeat it, looks at me in a measuring way, and then says, “Can I have my audiobook now.”  

At the yoga workshop, we meditated on each chakra to test it for relative speed, direction, and tone.  I thought my heart chakra was surely fine, but when I got there, the image that came up was my heart on ice, like the terribly sad almost-end to ET when they think he’s dead.  My heart, like ET, was covered up and disturbingly still.  But like ET, it started to glow again, faintly from under there.  Before school drop off, I spritz lavender spray on my sternum, thinking it will wake me up.  “Maybe this will wake my heart chakra,” I think.  Wake up, ET.  

I might as well move to California. 


After school drop off, I take to my bed.  The other boy I live with is angrily cleaning out the bathroom cabinet on the other side of the wall.  “Lotta crap in here,” he says, stuffing my empty antidepressant bottles into a plastic bag and throwing it on the floor.  I take to my bed.  Oh, I said that already.  I go to pick up the thread of what I’d been dreaming, like Gretel.  But you know all the trouble she had.  I’m like the one kid in a gangster movie, I think.  I’m just here in my pants and my turtleneck. My ‘70s hair.  Or I’m the woman from that movie, looking sad and agitated, as per usual, but ready to kill you quick as look at you.  The one who was in the movie about the unhinged housewife … You’re rooting for her and also disturbed, how she’s suddenly yelling at Peter Falk and his construction worker buddies around the table.  They’re just doing their thing, and there she is unaccountably crazy.  She has her reasons.  She’s such a good actor … Gena Rowlands … A Woman Under the Influence… Then I’m asleep again and gone.

NaPoWriMo #24

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Gray rain and warm and leaves over the driveway 
since yesterday.  Is this weather to remember the dead?
Angela comes to me, gone from this plane since we 
were twenty-three, though I’d last seen her at twelve, 
shocking everyone by having chosen shoes no one else
would have worn.  She made her own worlds.  Not just
the shoes, but her steady gaze, her air of knowing she 
was loved, though she had no father.  Her strange humor. 
We sat next to each other in fourth grade, and I learned 
the first day delight in a friend so utterly herself it must
have hurt, though if it did, she never showed it.  Our 
cranky teacher, who ruined my year, once turned her 
disapproval on Angela, who was always floating in late
from her house across the street from school.  You’re
cramping my style!  Angela spat back.  She is somewhere
in a photo album of mine, a ribbon around her neck, 
Cherokee eyes and Kool-Aid lips.  Every time I hear an
owl I think of her mother saying a hoot owl at night 
means death.  But the thought of her is life.  She was 
so odd, that kid.  She was all I needed to know about style.  

NaPoWriMo #23

Monday, April 23, 2018

Take This the Wrong Way


At the playground, E joins three other children on the metal turtle’s back.  They contemplate things with their different angles of repose and hair.  One child had been playing an elaborate game with him on a different structure, trying to imagine where the rooms of their house were and what they were for.  There are ghosts in our ship house! he says, trying to lure her back.  No response. 


I speak with an old friend by telephone while watching through the back window as my son brandishes a tree limb. He is gardening with his collar popped.  I’ve gained 30 pounds since moving here, I say. He took the end of my youth and now I’m just this lumpish thing sitting here. That’s how it feels, anyway.

You never know, she replies.  Things can change suddenly and in ways you would never expect.  She refers me to the acknowledgments of her second dissertation, in which she thanks her lucky stars for my friendship and brilliance.  She is planting vegetables and nearly making science money now.  I just sit there.  


Things I read entreat me to focus on what I want more of.  I want more of the firm pillows and fewer of these overly fluffy ones.  I want love, just white light washing through.  Suffusing.  Love and firm pillows.  


I take the car he leased to do errands after dark.  I sit in the empty parking lot of the library branch and stare.  I stop by the store.  I take the highway home and slow down as I come upon a police car stopped crossways across the lanes.  I’m really most comfortable this way, taking the detour alone and crying a little while listening to the doomiest music.  The song is explaining that really my life is relatively easy.      


Before bed I think, I must unblock my throat.  I think, Maybe palpate my sternum and third eye, tune in the receiver.  In this way I can receive and transmit the proper energies.  In the morning, I kneel next to small desks and observe the children in their works.  We talk about haircuts.  O has gotten a haircut.  He has visited his father all day, despite the separation.  Your parents must be in a divorce! E says.  Yes, it’s true they are divorced, replies O.  E and O both read well above grade level, but both sit outside the rug circle sometimes when they won’t stop moving.  It is a rectangle, anyway, E protests.  No matter what happens now, I must prepare my instrument to transmit and receive.  Most people are out there trying so hard.  

NaPoWriMo #21

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Existential Kink 

I’m not sure what the trick to it is.  One minute I’m 
telling jokes—“existential word problems”—and the next 
I’m looking up actuarial tables for poem research and really, 
truly freaking myself out.  When I don’t know what to do, 
I sit on a child’s green stool in the kitchen and drink half
a glass of wine because that’s a funny image I enjoy and 
the witch newsletter I get says to lean into your misery 
for fifteen minutes a day, and in that way to trick your 
shadow into integrating.  This witch lives in Pittsburgh and 
has a lot of ideas.  I write a friend to tell him I’m freaking 
myself out, and he says to breathe.  My son comes home 
crying in his Batman face paint and doesn’t want to tell 
me why, saying, “I must have an audiobook.  It’s the only 
thing that will satisfy,” the saddest miniature Edwardian 
superhero you ever saw. My whole life has been one long
creative exercise, a Life Prompt, if you will.  Try it.  Go 
from something kind of funny to something kind of sad
and back again.  Repeat.  Keep repeating. You have no choice.

NaPoWriMo #20

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 20th  Occasional Poem

I wake up from my second sleep to a robin 
staring menacingly at me from the back yard as 
I heat the coffee, looking at me dead on, like robins 
aren’t supposed to do, like an angry school teacher 
without her glasses.  I’m an angry school teacher 
without her glasses.  Well, I have my contacts in, 
having put them in and fallen back asleep for a couple 
hours, waking unable to focus my eyes or move both 
my eyes in the same direction at once. A predicament, 
and such a funny metaphor for something that I wanted 
to write Jess about it, but couldn’t focus my eyes.  
While I slept, another friend wrote to tell me that her new 
couch is not like her old couch, but that I can sleep there 
if I like.  As I read them, the words take on the quality of 
a dream or of someone talking in her sleep, but whether 
it’s her sleep or mine isn’t clear. This morning my son 
asked his father why he always sleeps on the couch. 
“Mommy snores,” is what his father says.  Really he 
sleeps on the couch because he sleeps on the couch.
Before I could make myself move from the bed a second
time, I imagined a time lapse movie showing all the places 
we slept, his studio apartment in Brooklyn, my apartment
in upper Manhattan, our apartment together in upper 
Manhattan, from which we could see the Cloisters and 
the Hudson and all those trees, how we began rotating in 
and out of different rooms at that point, me sleeping in my 
office and then looking for another apartment, and then 
finding another apartment together in Brooklyn, which 
thankfully was haunted.  Before we left our place with 
the view, we once woke up having just had the same
dream— It’s so weird, one of us said, we were on this 
rickety rollercoasterWait, that’s what I was dreaming
the other said, that feeling of going up and up and wondering
 if it was going to hold us. Both of us stunned and staring 
at the ceiling from our mattress on the floor, thinking, 
I guess, about the inevitable descent. 

NaPoWriMo #19

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I Can’t Go to California

I can’t go to California because I’m afraid of the Manson family.  

I can’t give a reading in LA because poets in LA have to be prepared to be photographed at any time. 

If I woke up in southern California, I’d see those impossibly tall, spindly palm trees, put on sunglasses, and turn into Joan Didion.  I’d have a Coke for breakfast and go interview a five-year-old who was allowed to ingest LSD by her wayward parents.  I’d turn my cold, sociological eye upon the whole affair. 

In LA, the introvert poets and the performance poets meet outside the planetarium to have a rumble at midnight.  The performance poets start performing for each other, while the introverts drift inside to watch the stars move across the ceiling with that narration that both soothes and terrifies.  In this way, the introverts win the fight.  

NaPoWriMo #18

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Some Thoughts on the Approaching End 

I keep trying to remind myself that I’ll be dead soon, the way we will all be dead soon.  The trick is to do this in such a way that I remember to live, but not in such a way that it keeps me up until 4am. 

When I lived in Minneapolis and dated J (the second J I dated in Minneapolis), I would sometimes think about how he would be handy in an apocalypse.  He was a carpenter and could build things.  In general, he delighted in finding practical solutions for problems in the physical plane, and would often discuss “rigging things up.”  He knew how engines worked, and also literal riggings on sailboats, if that’s a thing.  On one of our early dates, he assured me that the sailboat we were on on a very large, very windy lake could not possibly be knocked over.  Later he said, “Oh, no.  It could totally have been knocked over.”  In this way he was comforting for a time. 

These days I think of making my way to Ohio to live in a post-apocalyptic compound with my friend R, who has much experience based on the post-apocalyptic compounds of her childhood, her natural tenacity, and also her studies in philosophy.  She can grow things and tend to horses and probably rig things up, as well.  In addition, I’m certain she could start a new goddess cult if needed. 

Dropping my son off at school, I try to take a picture of his back as he walks up stairs with his friend Lucy to return his library book. At first they looked so small and determined, their little backs outlined in a hazy morning light, but by the time I opened the camera on my phone, the light had gone and other kids were rushing up the stairs beside them.  “I’ll just have to remember this moment,” I think.  On my way home I think about how as children, if we are lucky, we humor adults who want to take pictures of us looking small and serious and moving into a new stage with a small compatriot beside us.  Then the whole world starts to blur and shine because I guess I’m crying. 

I listen to a podcast very late at night when I cannot sleep. A British man speaks into my ear explaining that our “Barley Mother” is what the first person to cultivate grain is sometimes called.  Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers … the Fertile Crescent … modern-day Syria and Iraq.  I think of sitting with my elementary school class in Knoxville learning of the Tigris and the Euphrates from Mrs. Hill.  Or maybe this is wrong.  Maybe I heard about it from Mr. Martin in West Germany.  He was the teacher who read us Shel Silverstein every afternoon and Where the Red Fern Grows.  “Women will save me,” is something that has been popping into my head lately, amended by “or anyone kind.”  Sleepless Blanche DuBois, thinking the kindness of strangers… thinking warmongers pounding the land that was Mesopotamia, trying to drive our mother back into the ground… thinking the earth itself is our mother, assholes… before finally sleeping, if only for a few hours.  

NaPoWriMo #16 (out of order)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

(a collaboration with Todd J. Colby) 

You May Already Be a Winner

Look, thanks for having me here in your house
all these years.  I understand that staff needs 
have changed and people get grouchier as they 
grow older. Look, I’m into wayfarers andpilgrims 
as much as the next guy, but please don't sit at my feet 
strumming guitar when I'm trying to get dinner. 
Look, there’s a fixer in every person’s life. Maybe 
there's a charmer sliding into your DMs to say 
your eyes must weigh seven pound each. It's all 
good vibes all afternoon. Look, I still enjoy a revenge 
fantasy or two now and then. I can't keep track 
anymore of who's waiting for who to say uncle. 
Use those big eyes of yours. Look, I was heartbroken 
when I discovered how much news there is to keep 
track of everyday. That's why we formed this company
 in the first place. Look, I don't want to ruffle any feathers 
here,but there aren't any lush places left to destroy.  

NaPoWriMo #17

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

 Some Enchanted Evening 

I’m not sure who I was at five, when I’d sit in a room listening to a record player and turning the pages to the accompanying books. Gingerbread Man?  Snow White?  I was in the stories and loved them, the books and voices together, but then the singing would start, the men lowering their voices to some exaggerated masculine tone, the women rising into a trilling soprano, taking off into an unearned beauty. Suspicious artifice.  Fake-y it sounded to me.  Who were they trying to fool?  What did they hope to gain? 

In the family stories, my mother could walk down a street at night as a teenager, point at a streetlight, and it would go out.  Why was she walking down the street at night? People did that a lot more back then, I suppose.  Or some kind of family legacy of allowing the children to wander.  At its best it was “don’t keep your children on a leash because when you have to let them go, they’ll run into traffic.”  At its worst, a legacy of alcoholism, the children escaping into adventures.  Left to their own devices.  We were encouraged not to talk about that because “people believe the story you tell them.”  

Anyway, she could point at a streetlight and—POP! 

I imagine our family magic as little loud firecrackers thrown at the feet to distract from how painful it is to live.  Not fake, but extra. 

My mother could sing, and still can I suppose, even sitting at a table in Minnesota blearing into early middle age, contemplating not being alive because of whatever was crackling in her brain.  Telling us, her children, about it in the car on the way to the library branch.  Even then, suddenly her voice could rise, floating above us at the kitchen table. Was it “Some Enchanted Evening”? No, something from My Fair Lady, a phrase that came up in conversation. Her soprano lifting like that, not trilling and fake-y, but lifting like a ribbon out of her where she sat, a woman stuck in place here on earth.  

NaPoWriMo #15

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hecate Speaks

I’m just really into my shadow lately.  Like, both literally and figuratively.  I go on walks just before dusk so I can take pictures of it, my long legs stretched out uncanny and cool.  In yoga class, we meditate on our crown chakra, and mine calls me back to it, leaves rising like fingers from rich, dark soil.  That’s the image that comes to mind, anyway.   

I’m not much of a joiner.  Evenings I get in bed and commune with the dead. I know.  But if you light a candle, arrange yourself, leave a space, they’ll come.  Maybe that’s just me.  Something’s happening.  The black dog I used to dream about … I’ve been seeing it in my peripheral vision everywhere.  Lately it’s like the dark is its own soft animal, bigger than all of us and waiting. 

I guess I’m becoming a brand despite myself.  Some of my friends even have these tiny statues of me by their doors for luck.  Thresholds. It’s all in the thresholds, m’kay? The beautiful in-between, the velvet cave of it.  I have this flashlight, and I’ll come find you there and drag you back to yourself. I even brought an extra.  I’ll be waiting in here for you.    

NaPoWriMo #14

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Trying to Write a Poem While Reading the Children’s Encyclopedia

Mammals all have similar skeletons. . . .  The ribcage holds the tiger’s lungs in place. 

In grad school I dated a large mammal 
who could fit my whole fist in his mouth,
which, I’ll be honest, is more fun 
than I’d had in a long time. 

I was a smaller mammal then, 
burrowing under the covers and dreaming
when the large mammal would leave to play basketball 
with a poetry book in his back pocket.

NaPoWriMo #13

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mid-April Book of Days, 2

I read the news before sleep and am so overcome with grief for a dead boy and his mother that I do not sleep.  I play a man reading a Borges story in my ear but refuse to listen. Finally, I take off my headphones and start down the stairs toward alpha waves, theta waves, sleep spindles.  On one of my rotations it occurs to me that my grief is for myself, having been abandoned in my own home, and I begin to wail soundlessly. 

In the morning I ready E for school and then put in earplugs, landing thump into deepest sleep, then emerging three hours later, a lady of the lake breaking the surface on her bier.  Stuck I am again, in this non-elegant world. 

At school pick up my small son walks up to a mom I am chatting with and socks her in the stomach.  I don’t know what he’s angry about.  Possibly my brain waves.  Possibly the shouting he heard from the other room.  Or maybe he’s just a very tired, very small boy.  

Hours later, I can feel it still, that unexpected contact of a little hand in someone else’s gut. 

He asks me if trees are nocturnal.  He talks to me on a soap walkie-talkie.  He recounts how his friend started punching him during recess and how he punched back.  How they were supposed to keep their hands to themselves, but how when the teacher turned her back, they did not.  

I write my brother for practical advice.  My brother makes me a spreadsheet in which he explains that I must be twice as practical as I’d imagined to go on with life on my own terms. 

My crown chakra wilts.  

He tells me to take a breather, and I do some alternate nostril breathing. 

The only thing that would cheer me up now is someone drawing a cartoon of me with a wilted crown chakra doing alternate nostril breathing while hunched over a spreadsheet. 

There is mention in the other room of the physics of whirlpools, of certain items manufactured through a process called extrusion. Finally there is silence and sleep.  

I wash my face and brush my teeth, make a cup of tea. I get in bed to answer some emails.  I hear a hoot owl not far from my window, and decide to step out onto the back steps to breathe alone.  By morning I’ve become quite still, my waves and chakras having settled.  I have, in fact, rejoined the earth.  A fine green dust covers me. 

NaPoWriMo #12

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Mid-April Book of Days

At night, you lull yourself to sleep listening to an interview of a woman who studies the brain chemistry of sex and romance.  These hormones, the woman says, diminish activity in the decision-making part of the brain.  This shows up on scans.  

All the next morning, you dream that a poet you know is teaching biology for writers at an artists’ retreat.  You are encouraged either to get in the water polo game or to cheer on the shore. The lake is terribly deep and not fit for water polo, so you wander back into the building thinking of the terror of the sublime, but not in those words.  You find a private lake-viewing room which opens on to the side of the lake.  A wall of lake is there, suspended, waiting. 

It is evening, and you stand on your porch with your son, encouraging him to observe the natural world around him.  You are trying to distract him from rushing to the neighbor’s to ring the doorbell while you wait for his father to put on his shoes and take him for a walk.  You tell your son that the single tulip by the steps is a “volunteer,” the word for something planted long ago that sprouts unexpectedly, and also the word for someone who shows up to help because they’ve chosen to do so. 

You write an encouraging message to a friend who is full of dread.  I know for a true fact that you are magic, you write.  It said it right there in the cards.  You succeed in making your friend cry.

You find a forgotten cache of copies of your poetry book in the closet, the one with cover art by your friend the cosmic milkmaid. You sit down to examine your own line breaks and end up reading the entire thing.  Woven through this book are tender moments between the speaker and the speaker’s boyfriend, later the father of her son.  You wonder who these people are.  

NaPoWriMo #11

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

(a collaboration with Todd Colby) 

Energetic Hygiene 

On the ocean’s floor, there remains a turbulence 
near certain rifts. The way a child's psyche reverberates 
after a long trip to another state, or anyone's notion of being 
a citizen of anything that requires language and intent.  
Once you read about cathected desire and imagined 
modern dancers, Merce Cunningham Mercing about. 
Anymore, all you can think of is breaking rocks with 
hammers, the occasional odd job, and deep fried dietetic donuts. 
When you leap and stretch and hover in the air, 
it's mostly in that space before sleeping with the angels
which the medicated syrup helps with, a lot.
If desire is the engine, you'll want to take care not to ride 
the clutch, and remember your spacewalk was concluded
after you nearly drowned in your own suit. The pressure 
down here is dazzling. By the way, would you mind
picking up a couple avocados on your way home?
It's hard to end it now that we've agreed on all the menus. 

NaPoWriMo #10

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


While I was drawing a stylized DK for Dead Kennedys on my Tretorns in ninth-grade French class, Todd was at CBGB or meeting Ginsberg or something.  

While he was doing that, Jess was swimming in a bayou in Louisiana with some other kids, shouting “Gator!” when they saw a gator.  

At the same time, Amanda was marching around school with her upright posture being a young Republican, and the next year shaving her head and wearing that cool checked dress with the zipper.  

Reagan had not yet told Gorbachev to tear down that wall.  

No one was on the morning news reporting on the president’s Tweets.  

When Reagan bombed Libya, a bunch of boys in Vans and camo pants went whooping down the hall at school, punching lockers in glee.  Maybe it was just one boy.  It seemed like a bunch. 

NaPoWriMo #9

Monday, April 09, 2018

Questionnaire Responses

1.   I think I was a comfort once or twice, doing fake rituals that really worked, leading my graduate school lover down an imaginary road on which he met what healed him. And he was a comfort, too, drawing talismanic cartoons and once a stylized black bird on my breastbone in Sharpie for luck. (As much as I dislike the word “lover,” I suppose it fits.) 

2.   Arthur Miller wrote the movie The Misfits for Marilyn Monroe, and she was too out of it most days to perform properly on set, but that quality pretty much works in the film.  She is getting a divorce in Reno.  Clark Gable is in love with her.  They were both much smaller than they appeared on screen.  Eli Wallach plays Guido, who loves her also and who carries around the story of having let his wife die in childbirth.  Therefore, one night he drives much too fast down a country road at night, Clark Gable passed out in the backseat, and Marilyn leaning forward to say an incantation, “You’re right, Guido,” bringing comfort to save herself, as women sometimes do.  

It is possible I am getting some details wrong. I watched this movie many times, but it’s been several years since I watched it last.  Splendor in the Grass with Natalie Wood, on the other hand, I could almost recite at one point and still remember well.  Once in high school I took a nap in the afternoon and dreamed a large chunk of the movie.

3.    It is always haunted. 

4.   It’s always one’s own belfry, no matter what, that one is stuck in. 

5.   Caftan arts are totally a thing. 

6.   The old woman’s hand rising up next to my bed when I was four or so … that time it was just me and whoever that was, until I jumped out of bed, as far out into the center of the room as I could, and ran to get my mother. 

7.    There’s worship and there’s worship.  How much of the story do you gather before you make up your narrative of admiration?  Once a boy sat at Reading Terminal Market eating lunch and told me, “I’ve been thinking of that baby picture of you, the serious look on your face,” meeting me in that narrative for a time.  I suppose by then he was almost a man.  

NaPoWriMo #8

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Questionnaire 1. Describe a time you were magic. 2. Give your thoughts on the 1961 John Huston movie The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe, Eli Wallach, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift. Alternately, discuss your favorite movie featuring Elizabeth Taylor or Natalie Wood. 3. Do you think my house is haunted? 4. Your belfry or mine? 5. Are mantic arts a thing? Oh, wait. I just looked it up. They are a thing. What about caftan arts? 6. What alternate realities did you walk around in as a child? Was there anyone else there? 7. Are you prepared to continue worshipping me from afar?

NaPoWriMo #7

Saturday, April 07, 2018

(collaboration with Todd Colby)

My Arm Is on Fire and I Know You Don’t Care

I still refuse to wear the skin of a lamb,
or drink the blood of a lamb, or have anything 
to do with a lamb, no matter how much you say 
you like my style. But here's a selfie I had printed
on a T-shirt that you can wear from now on. I 
look drawn and pale, as the years have taken 
their toll but I am part of you now and part of your 
wardrobe, and we have that at least to look forward to.

NaPoWriMo #6

Friday, April 06, 2018

The Keening

I have a note about this somewhere
on my phone, the suffering of women, 
a mother leaning against the kitchen counter
in her sunbathing bikini, screaming over
and over and unable to stop, until she sees
her teenage daughter and just stops.
Never mentions it again. 

Who has had what scraped out of her
is a question we could ask.  All that blood.
Men are such chickens and could never
do it. Taking it all into themselves
& transmuting it into life, death, tumors, clots.

I have never been one to find women’s bodies
grotesque.  That scene in The Shining that terrifies
a child, the beautiful woman falling old.
Now when I see it, I think, It’s just a woman.
His whole big horror was just embracing 
the woman’s changing body.  

It’s where we all came from, Jack. It’s where 
we’ll all end up.  These latest transformations are 
a doozy, but that’s the transformation of consciousness, 
the feeling of feeling it all.  How if I began
keening now I would not stop.

NaPoWriMo #5

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Voyages to Summer Are Sisters

There stands your pregnant mother
in a homemade minidress of tiny flowers
& there sits a collie pup in its mask, besotted

After Easter, foliage strains to rise,
the torn and bleeding rose bush

Some stand right in their story, 
some stand in the ruins of a smoking year
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