John Rufo

Eric Baus asked if I could write a poem without any references in it / This is one failed attempt / Another asked if I could reveal myself in a poem / Is that happening here? / I think the people we choose to talk to (either dead or living) speak as much of us / perhaps more / than we might claim about ourselves / so that the virgule (/) stands for a page break / an opening, a clearing (but not an emptiness) / so that this is a section from a much longer poem / the ending always staying just out of reach

 


 

Excerpt from The Lives of the Poets I Know
 

It’s easier to swap what we have in common, break bread together. Futzing about differences can be fun, and a lot of people seem very dedicated to this task. The futzing, I mean; not really the difference. 

/

The future is futzing when “u” “r” in it, trailed by an “e” no one pronounces or notices. 

/

Maintaining one’s individuality is important in a democratic state that sometimes sponsors living (or dead) poets with a title or a fellowship – in addition to spots of terrorism, spots of time, here and there – but can one really be uniquely one’s self, not a nobody nor a somebody, if others are also trying hard and sweating over the task of being one’s self? 

No one works in an operating room alone. 

/

But many living poets I know only dance in private. 

/

Surgery is still a kind of performance. A dance-mask. Keats cut open bodies for pay and died of tuberculosis. 

/

Does this matter if we’re considering living poets vs. human beings? 

/

Are living poets different than others? 

/

Of course. But others are also different from living poets. 

/

Most of the living poets I know dream with some regularity, but that doesn’t mean every poem is a dream, or that they even keep a dream journal. Some maintain that all dreams are dry, and others awake to sudden puddles, lap lanes in sheets. 

/

Some living poets are convinced that other living poets are the problem. I think this is true, 
too, but I’ve never met some of the living poets I think are a problem. 

/

Rather, what they write or perform is a problem. If they themselves, as a nobody or somebody,
in their Something-ness or Nothing-ness, are a problem, then I’m not really sure where to proceed from there. 

/

If someone’s existence is a problem for somebody else, if a life of a person becomes the cause for someone else’s Nothing-ness or Something-ness, then we have exited the equation. 

/

The limit does not do poetry. 

/

For it’s not really an if followed by a then: it is the present moment colliding with another moment that becomes a train fading into a tunnel way back there somewhere. 

/

It’s the notes we’re not reading from. 

/

It’s the really difficult and draining letters to compose made of the same letters as the easy notes, the slap-dash thing I fancy, the email I forgot I even sent. 

/

When there-ness becomes here-ness with another person it’s really quite lovely. 

/

Especially if it rhymes. 

/

It is always-already Tuesday, for example. That’s an absurd way of putting a relatively simple point.

/

Do you follow me? Would you want to follow me? 

/

How do we pick out Messiahs? Or does a Messiah perform the selection? 

/

Most of the living poets I know enable large egos. 

/

Most of the living poets I know like some other living poets, though not all living poets. 

/

The first living poet I met, when she read something she liked by a living poet, her lips smiled but not her eyes. 

/

She is not the only living poet to smile with lips but not eyes in public and that is reassuring. 

/

Though some things you can’t help but do in front of others. 

/

Like a lisp, for example. 

/

Some people want to erase the people they are in front of others: become, yet again, strange. 

/

I am waiting to meet a living poet who likes every other living poet, if only fleetingly. 

/

I am waiting to meet a person who likes every other person. 

/

I am waiting to meet a person at this deli. 

/

A living poet messages me: “I’m pretty into delis.” 

/

At that moment, I was into that living poet. Not because she was into delis, but because, among other things, she was an expert about places that provided meats. 

/

This is not called empathy, even if you tried.  

/

This is not called poetry; it is a resting place. 

/

This poem is not a cigarette but you could probably smoke it. 

/

Charles Olson dubbed himself an “Archaeologist of Morning.” Changing occupations is one way to transform. The duties of a caterpillar are dissimilar to the daily mutterings of butterflies; or, even moths, while we’re at it, who you will never be. 

/

I would like to think this poem is organic, farm-fresh. It comes from a living poet whose hometown has very few bridges, very few trains, but many cows who are milked morningly. 

/

Why isn’t that word a word? You know the word I’m referring to. 

/

And yes, I don’t mind ending with a preposition. 

/

Even if that sentence doesn’t end with a preposition. 

/

I would like to thank this poem for being organic. 

/

That line no longer resonates as well off “I would like to think this poem is organic, farm-fresh” because I added some lines between the lines. It is hard to tell what you can tell, you who are so far away. When the “i” becomes an “a.”

/

Are inorganic things simply stale? Did someone put something unpleasant in here, an ageless wicked eternity?

/

Any fool recognizes an odor. 

/

The Order of Things is a book I like by Michel Foucault. 

/

The subtitle of The Order of Things is typically translated “An Archaeology of the Human Sciences.” Both Foucault and Olson were grave-diggers, showing you skulls you knew well when the dead could still yawn without choosing. 

/

Things that are organic hopefully die; the inorganic moments last forever. Names of brands in landfills. Ashes end-dabbed. 

/

No longer any way to enjamb. 

/

I am nervous. 

/

I am nervous in this process of naming that I have declared something about other poems or living poets. 

/

I am nervous because that is, in fact, what I meant to do.

/

Must we mean what we meant?  

/

For what I meant: If I only speak about the Self, which is a clouded mirror that merely writes My Self, then the poem and the living poet are largely interchangeable. 

/

I would like to fight this feeling of one thing being exchanged for another.

 

 

***

John Rufo reads and writes poetry at Hamilton College. His critical and creative work has been previously published, or is forthcoming, in Ploughshares, Entropy, Fanzine, JERRY, and Prelude. You can find him online at dadtalkshow.tumblr.com

 

Candice Iloh

Alleged is a poem inspired by and developed from a Facebook status posted by poet and professor Tony Medina. The original post was responding to the surfacing of video footage in which a young woman, who had been drugged, is being molested publicly on a beach with several witnesses standing around. No one is intervening. In fact, there appears to be some young men standing guard of the altercation. There was very little coverage and very little public outrage. Medina posted the article with a caption that I used to shape an erasure poem reducing the post to a few select words illustrating a way in which hatred for women and rape culture manifests itself in everyday settings and behaviors of this time. 


***
Candice Iloh is a creative writer and artist-educator residing in Brooklyn, NY whose writing has appeared in Fjords Review, The Grio, For Harriet, and elsewhere. A VONA fellowship recipient and Home School Lambda Literary Fellow, Candice also contributes to Lambda Literary and The Black Youth Project.  She is a new MFA candidate in Writing for Young People and Poetry at Lesley University and is currently working on her first full-length young adult project in verse.  When not writing or teaching, you can find her in a dance class in Bedstuy and at www.becomher.com.

Lauren Russell

“______ than Cake” began in Dawn Lundy Martin’s Spring 2013 poetry workshop at the University of Pittsburgh. Dawn gave us a prompt to research some aspect of the body’s functioning and to use this research as a missing text. The assignment was to write around that missing text. Dawn wrote, “This will be the text that you will omit from your poems; this will be the text that refuses your direct attention. What happens instead? What is the text that occurs around the text? What happens in the place of the research text/information? How is the missing text hinted at/indicated?” I started my research with celibacy, but this soon branched into other areas including singleness and also asexuality.

“______ than Cake” has several influences, but the most prominent is the 2011 documentary (A)Sexual directed by Angela Tucker. About 25 minutes in, an asexual-identified individual named Cole explains, “The idea of asexuals and cake came about because somebody posed the question ‘What’s better than sex?’ and everybody seems to universally agree that cake is just fantastic. Jokingly, cake would be the asexual sex.” In revision, I also used assorted found material, including flyers and ads. When shopping for language to play with, I consulted Jude Schell’s lesbian sex guide Her Sweet Spot (yes, it’s actually called that!) and the desserts chapter of Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

 

 
 

______ than Cake

 

 

Do you ever …

Don’t you want …

Do you experience difficulty in …

Were you traumatized by …

Are you sure this is not the result of …

Why don’t you have a …

Are you on the spectrum of …

Is this a choice or …

How can you live without …


 

little duchess bakeshop
petite praline sweet spot
red velvet forest frost
vanilla pudding muffin stud
gilded chocolate cherry bundt




This year’s fundraiser cake contest will celebrate the birth of our 5000th baby! For the first time in the event’s history, MOVING PARTS will be a component of decorated cakes.




        Aunt: How are you going to get a man
        if you don’t know how to cook?

        Niece: Oh, you’re supposed to cook them?




The last time was two years before, when apartment-hunting in a city she would inhabit eventually. One day, after it had rained (which it does quite often, with sudden ferocity, in this new city), she left her umbrella to dry in S’s hall. On the bus home, she got a text: “You left your red umbrella.” Months later, after she had moved and long after it had ended, S gave her a new umbrella—bigger, stronger, and redder than the one she’d left. (By way of explanation): “I broke the other one,” S said.




kitty tickler dance
catnip mouse and lunging cat
chocolate crumbs and fresh-licked pan
white wine woozy on Friday night
and damn that track!—singing
consonantal bounce




Studies fail to differentiate between choice and circumstance, though nearly a third of non-cohabitating women between the ages of eighteen and sixty




butter browning whipped puff
beaten, creamed, and almost crushed
sugar petal pinched a blush
honey, soften up your dates
toothpicks testing half-baked cakes




Chrissy and Daphne are trying out a new thigh harness. That is the entire premise. Has Chrissy’s thigh fallen asleep under the sustained vigor of Daphne’s grind? Daphne’s mouth falls open, an exaggerated O.




cracked and yolked
that slippery trope
crusty crumble
filling’s poked




The umbrella that once withstood torrents is older now and full of angles—its barbs could take an eye out if you weren’t looking up.




        Seriously Sexy

We are looking for 16 heterosexual couples who:
● Have been monogamous longer than six months
● Are willing to be sexually active as part of this study
● Are available for up to 14 weeks




sated, baited, or sublimated
wedge or linchpin, obfuscated




one toothbrush
one frying pan
one packed lunch
one radio blaring Fresh Air
one magazine on one nightstand
one stack of Christmas cards
one Frida Kahlo wall
one calendar riddled with asterisks
one cat bounding from the window ledge




alliance      allegiance       a law       a license      a limit      elicit      alone      defiance
 



Out (on a date?)—pumpkin soup! crème brûlée!—she looks across a table at someone’s face

 

gooey, fruity, and bourbon boozy
hot, sauced, and dressed up juicy



The last time she left her umbrella (by way of explanation) after it had ended (which it does quite often). She left it (by way of explanation) after it had rained, with sudden ferocity, stronger than before, in this new city.

 

                                                                                    For a caramelized flavor,
                                                                                    substitute brown sugar.
                                                                                    Olive oil is more versatile
                                                                                    than butter—

                                                                                                     Intimate or Intimation: which
                                                                                                     cannot be replicated



 

It all comes down to chemistry
(calculation, not improvisation)

 

 

       what acceptance desires
   _______________________ =
          what desire accepts

 

 

one umbrella, a solitary red

 



***

Lauren Russell
’s first full-length book, What’s Hanging on the Hush, will be out from Ahsahta Press in 2017.
She is the author of the chapbook Dream-Clung, Gone (Brooklyn Arts Press), and her poems have appeared
or are forthcoming in Betterboundary 2jubilatPingPong, and Tarpaulin Sky, among others. Her reviews
may be found in Aster(ix), The VoltaJacket2, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem
and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and she will be the 2016 VIDA Fellow to the Home School Miami.

Rosanne Wasserman

In 2012, at the invitation of Laura Orem, twelve poets across the country joined to create a series of handmade books of poetry and art, each based on one word, in a multitude of poetic styles and art mediums. My poem and collage here were created for C. J. Sage’s book dedicated to the word “Breach.” The word brought whales to mind, so I used Gustave Doré’s “Leviathan,” from his Job illustrations, as background for the art, which inspired, in turn, my poem about this particularly recalcitrant Muse, based on an old ballad called “Kemp Owyne” (Child 34; you can read the verses here), in which a lady, Dove Isabel, is turned by an evil stepmother into a Laidly Wurm—an ugly dragon. The story is related to many fairy tales such as “The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh,” seen in this gorgeous illustration, by John D. Batten, from 1890.

"Her breath was strang, her hair was lang,
And twisted ance about the tree,
And with a swing she came about: 
‘Come to Craigy’s sea, and kiss with me.’”

As the poem and collage composed themselves, Marianne Moore showed up, and Emily Dickinson, and Moby Dick (duh!); some Odyssey, a little I Can Haz Cheezburger?, and a very kawaii pic of a cat-Beluga romance; along with all the rest of the usual suspects.

 

 

***

 

Dove Isabel

It’s like holding the seas apart with art until
uprises wet with grievous size
precisely that Laidly Wyrm you’ve loved
with a cow or two stuck in her teeth, look-
ing at you for all the world as though you were the one who
had put her down underneath. “Oh, hai.” Uh-huh.

Well, watch out. She’s probably fixing to break your Melmac
bowl, breach mirrors, blurb Melmoth, breed
Man-Moths, clone mammoths, mess around with mermen, 
murder bores. She’s bound mainly to bring you more
trouble: See colorblind Chaos informing her enormous
frontal lobe, beyond that blowhole? See her kiss the cat?

See how she’s breathing? It’s in through her mouth
and out straight through the top of her head: It’s like
when you’re singing some earworm as glorious as symphonic
choruses stuck in your spinal cord, then the phone rings
and you answer its rhythm, unable to say a word.
You’d better check your hands again. Convince yourself

they’re there. If they are, it’s time to keep
them open. But the sea’s to write on, with its cavalcade of rain:
Better that than biting at your fingers. Here’s what swims in,
then, between the vista and the viewer; here’s what silhouettes
outside the window.  Hold it, hold on to it, water and fire,
panther and pythoness: changes start

where other changes wander. Be braver. So journ-
eying, eyeing Leviathan, keep her inside you, as well, as
she gulps the rigging. I know, I know: You tried
to let her go: Ain’t gonna happen. She only expanded
enormously in that well; it’s what she does. Whenever
she surfaces, slow as a mobé pearl, though, that’s your cue.

 

***

Rosanne Wasserman’s poems have appeared widely in anthologies and journals; both John Ashbery and A. R. Ammons have chosen her work for the Best American Poetry annual series. Her poetry books include The Lacemakers, No Archive on Earth, and Other Selves, as well as Place du Carousel and Psyche and Amor, collaborations with Eugene Richie. She’s been teaching sailors at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for the last twenty-five years.

 

Anaïs Duplan


Sometimes I decide on the rules of a poem before I write it. The rules were: two things interrupting, in couplets with refrains. Then I thought, "What better interruption than the image of black people dancing?" Which is why we do the hootchy-kootchy and the imaginary "mackerel shuffle." Maybe it's the rhyme or the alliteration that makes many of those dance names feel like black dances. Whatever it is, it's in the way, here in the poem, and I appreciate that about it. 

 

***
 

Opening My Mouth, Etc., and a Real Louder Crash

        "The thing we think about must have subsisted during the act of thinking."

A gun reverberates in my presence
and perhaps I say, "This is going to be 

Do the boogie-woogie, do
the hootchy-kootchy!

like being alive." If we trace a tune we know by heart
the notes&letters pull poorly together and fade

Do the wolf-walk, do
the hustle-bug!

as though they were an ephemeral string
of rocks in a box. A skyscraper for the man

Do the mackeral shuffle, do
the stanky legg!

whose prowess won the battle of Austerlitz.
Someone fabricates, "The sleazy Mr. Felucca will come

Do the black-bottom, do
the shim-sham!

to squish me this afternoon. I am overripe." I ask, 
fraying, "How long does it take to derail a train?"

 

***
Anaïs Duplan is the author of a forthcoming collection whose title used to be Take This Stallion, but now it could be anything. Her writing has appeared in Hyperallergic, Phantom Limb, Birdfeast, PANK, among others. She runs The Spacesuits, which is an ongoing experiment about the Afrofuture. She is an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in addition to having a profound connection with most dogs she meets.

 

 

 

Kevin Killian

“Oxygen,” one of a series of poems about the elements I’ve been writing for the past four years, came to me thinking of that moment in GRAVITY when George Clooney seems to be alive when Sandra Bullock, in shock from present events and also from  a family trauma, needs him to be.  We all need oxygen from the moment that conception begins—did you know that?  I guess I did in a way, but I’m not even 100 % sure that it’s true.  Poetry comes out of the gaps between what I’m convinced of, and the airless pages of fact checking—I’m living in a dreamworld…  

 

 

 

 


 

 

Oxygen
 

Sandra Bullock floating and her colleague (George Clooney) taps her glass

A panic that can still confound her—she had a little daughter died of too much cough
        syrup in her

oxygen….  It is the element we throb into life in the union

of sperm and egg

That day I started to breathe through the womb—a gasp blinking through the trailways
       like a C-section.

Tap, tap, hey are you ready for the gaps in the world?  Are you ready to make water, for
       light, for the twilight?  If you slump when it hits your chest, a tower deep will
       unsheathe you—

enshadow you—Was it only a bird—those wings a-flap?

Oxygen stands for O, for order, for Oprah, she named a whole crumby network after
       the element—

Stands for orgasm, that little face you wear—that little pout with the tongue tip wet like
       the—

                                    like the back of a stencil

I could never write a poem, let alone a book, like Perec did with his A Void, but avowing
       the “o,” for I couldn’t put you in it.  Or my drone in it, or Mexico, or oxygen.  I’d
       be nowhere and couldn’t even say where I was.

For me it would find its life in the

elements

riddles, not jokes; fishes, not loaves;

inside, not out

Sentences, words; pastures, not woods

Blue, not yellow; midnight, not noon.

 

***

Kevin Killian, one of the original “New Narrative” writers, has written three novels, a book of memoirs, four books of stories, and three books of poetry.  For the San Francisco Poets Theater Killian has written forty-five plays, and the anthology he compiled with David Brazil—The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater 1945-1985—is the standard book on the subject.  Recent projects include Tagged, Killian’s nude photographs of poets, artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers and intellectuals; and forthcoming, with Dodie Bellamy, The Nightboat Anthology of New Narrative Writing 1977-1997.

 

 

Eric Baus


The title “Amoeba bag” was a google search that I used to find the Amoeba record store “What’s in my bag?” video series, in which musicians talk about what they bought on their visit. When I looked at the phrase on its own, it seemed like a good description of what it feels like to be in a body built of microbes and detritus. It feels like it gets at how a person is not necessarily one unified organism but a complex system of organisms at various scales in communication and in varying forms of growth and decay within the same environment.

 










Amoeba bag

Staring at the polished spirals of an antique miasma, I was felled from failing to gasp convincingly at the clouds. The foam from this storm was predicated on a sigh. Like a zone that was lanced into the peat of a grave, I graphed its elements for sympathetic gravel. Some moss spent all year longing for the cliffs, but how to clone enough rain to revive, how to hold a ram in your yarn until the tiny beast unboxes its breath? Watching moths fly is not the same as inventing sight was the wrong lesson to learn, I kept learning. I was trying to see how smallness is built from competing seedlings when I felt I had made my first descent. If I am only an amoeba bag now it is because of the bugs I brought with me.

 


***
Eric Baus is the author of four books of poetry, most recently The Tranquilized Tongue (City Lights, 2014). A new book, How I Became a Hum is forthcoming from Octopus Books next year. He teaches in the new Regis University Mile High Low-Residency MFA Program in Denver and is a poet-in-residence at The Home School.

Nina Puro

I wrote this while thinking about the great horned owl that lived on my roof as a child, how much more tinfoil-hat-separatist I get as I get older (aren't you supposed to chill out?), and poetry drama. I wrote this during AWP, when I felt deeply alone but very glad to not be in that clusterfuck, right after a difficult text, quite rapidly on my phone on the train right after it went underground, and while walking to work (super-windy) and on my lunch break (still-windy). 

I was thinking, also, about Human Planet, the only nature show I like because it is people doing crazy things (kids that see better underwater! men pounding on the river with sticks to test if the ice is thick enough!) instead of lions fucking (meh), and how the dances/burial rites/feasts always go back to an archetypal arrangement of symbols, regardless of "tribe." 

It was one of those struck-by-lightning-Zeus poems I think we're all always hoping for and I rarely get. 

The bizarre invented spacing in the middle is, of course, the product of many revisions later. It's something about splits between people, a train, a river, distance--the realization I wasn't going to Minneapolis because (long story short) I'd have to deal with a dead friend. I felt useful that day.

 

***

 

Before the River Burned, But After it Ran Backwards

 

If they ask                    after my
after my                       whereabouts you tell them
even teeth                     can grow wings
with enough scum.
                  It’s cruel                      
isn’t it? How                the cornfield from
above is                        a city, a graveyard,
an orchard, fingers                   holding mum
air. I’m swooping                     over y’all & not
gonna land                   for a bit,
for a horse,                    for a penny
gumming                     the root
of my tongue.                There’s a bad
star I was born              under & three promises
I was born above:                     Iced laugh
that slit her throat.                     Iced night
that swallowed stars                  whole. Iced girls
who shoot                    at water with
their fists                      will break
like chalk, not              honeyed
bread.
There’s not much                      I’m good at.
But I’m long done                   trying to be.
I know where               the pollen’s blown.
Born with cornsilk                   between chipped
teeth. Our kind                        ain’t killed off
quite yet. I hold                        my fear’s head
under the lake &                      hold the hand
of a smoke plume & hold                    bees under
my tongue.                    If you question
whether            you’ll stop over
behind the jacarandas               in that thicket tonight,
that means                   you will. That means
there’s no side              door
that don’t have             a draft. That means
there’s no way out                    of your dad’s
lake. Every second                   a phone stops
ringing right before                   someone picks it up.
I lie                  between my teeth
all day              & later lie
in the thicket with                     my friend.
My friend                     she spills
lamplight through                    her hands
like a photograph                     of snow.
My friend                     she has nine
fingers and three                       theories
for how the world                     will end.
The one where girls                  are swimming under
the ice & at the same time                    above it
pouring pitchers                       of milk for tables thick
with men. There’s                    the one where we have to
put the horses               down each Christmas behind
that burned-out                        strip mall, & every day’s
Christmas.                    The one that’s only
a cave at the center                   of the globe with a butter-knife
stuck in the center                    of cracked teeth,
an empty stomach                    like a fist
fooling itself full                       with fingers
& nobody makes                      promises
no more. That one’s                my favorite.
That’s the story                        I follow home.

 

***

Nina Puro’s work can be found in Guernica, H_ngm_n, the PEN Poetry Series, and other places. A member of the Belladonna* Collaborative; the author of chapbooks forthcoming from Argos Books and dancing girl press; and the recipient of a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony, Nina cries and works in Brooklyn. 

Hoa Nguyen

I think I was ten when I first heard Question Mark and the Mysterian’s song “96 Tears”. I played that vinyl over and over, at least ninety six times. Why was it so compelling to me and why do I recall it now when I think about poem-making? 

Question Mark and the Mysterians were a band made up of Mexican Americans who grew up in Bay City, Michigan. They were considered the original garage band and their hit single “96 Tears” is credited for originating the punk rock movement. But I didn’t know any of that when I was ten. I think what I heard then and what I think I want from poems now is that multi-timbral sound, a sound like that of the farfisa organ. I want a reaching voice, a voice that reaches beyond my own voice like the ringing vibrations of Question Mark’s falsetto vocals. I want a bare-bones lyric, a little song of sadness and reprisal, of grief and redress.

 

96 Tears by Question Mark and the Mysterians

***

 

SET FIRE TO THE HEGEMONIC MASK (SONNET)
 

Conch shell a phone    asking
please don’t trade in pain
Sesame stix and canola in the
cup    egg drop soup    semicolon

The bent strings become another
voice like the lyric cheezits of
leash-walked alligators and today
was hamburgers made from

multiple cows all mixed with poems
Last week               Sloppy Joes
I tried on a white mink collar
Mango swung        whitey wins

Said  The Resistance doesn’t say Hello
then offer you       a nest of flowers

 

***

 

Hoa Nguyen is the author of four full-length collections of poetry including As Long As Trees Last, (Wave, 2012) and Red Juice, Poems 1998–2008 (Wave, 2014).  She lives in Toronto, teaches writing workshops, and curates a reading series.

 

 

Krystal Languell

I was experiencing summer ennui and my person suggested I “read a book with a plot,” so I picked up Middlemarch, which was the closest novel within arm’s reach. Inspired by Simone Kearney and Rachel Levitsky’s collaborative responses to the novel, but not having read their work, I began reading with an eye out for what might have been of interest to them. This was of course impossible and I instead started reading about fifty pages in the morning and then attempting to recreate the plot from memory in a poem each evening. 

 

 

 

 

***

 

JUNE 24

on the topic of medical advice
blistering is a common treatment
when physicking falls short
the pills a fertile mother takes to 
get through a busy month of baking
the brown rather than pink recipe
has worked for years a tumor they 
might want cut but first it’s manners
among doctors offense his patient
cured better by a younger man better
because the servant was no longer sick
and with no cutting into her others 
from the brink of death some say
unnaturally no autopsy practice in 
place the young doctor thinks aloud
of graverobbing historical figures
to his wife’s disgust who says no 
misery please for us make discoveries
without upsetting people they have
a little consumer debt having rushed
the wedding the banker built the new
hospital though a low profession 
other bodies’ fluids and temperaments
says wife she is opposed to muck & bile

 

JUNE 25

a second time a young woman refuses 
to obey a man and he’s dead by morning
‘by’ in this case stretches to include the
period of hours prior to his expiration
slumped over a picnic table in his cape
frantic work and the next day timeline 
skips ahead weeks a woman in grief 
what does she do how is it different than
sitting in her room with a few books 
and a window would be hard to notice 
his absence no one passing her a note
about what room to eat her dinner in 
next marker will be the day to open 
his desk someone interprets the will at
her its codicil appended to exert control
from the grave who’ll never receive a
portion of the wealth the only person 
she had spoken up for to split the land

 

***

Krystal Languell was born in South Bend, Indiana. She is the author of the books Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVox, 2011) and Gray Market (Coconut, 2015) and the chapbooks Last Song (dancing girl press, 2014) and Be a Dead Girl (Argos Books, 2014). In early 2014, Fashion Blast Quarter was published as a poetry pamphlet by Flying Object.

Recent work in 2015 includes a collaboration with Robert Alan Wendeborn, Diamonds in the Flesh (Double Cross Press), and a collection of interviews, Archive Theft (Essay Press). A core member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, she also edits the feminist poetry journal Bone Bouquet. She was a 2013-2014 Poetry Project Emerge-Surface-Be fellowship recipient and a 2014-2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council workspace resident. 

 

Marcella Durand

marcella-d.jpg

My son is learning French and I saw the phrase "Le Lait c'est bon" somewhere in one of his workbooks. The flatness and faint ridiculousness of it as a sort of educational sentence sent me into writing this poem, which, unlike my usual agonizingly slow and abstract way of writing, just came together at once. My French father did not speak English when I was born, so in a sense we learned it together. We used to play games where we would try to baffle each other with words strange to each other. And so I think that on a certain level both languages--English and French--might always be strange to me. But I like to try to write into that mysterious space between languages.


***

Le Lait c'est bon

I've decided to write only in French. From here
on in this will be French. The context and the syntax
will be French. My vocabulary will be French.
Every verb and noun, every adjective, adverb, article
and, in particular, every preposition will be
in French. And there will be more prepositions
because French uses prepositions a lot more
than English does. Adjectives will often come
after nouns and "toothbrush" will instead be
"the brush of my teeth." Every noun will be
preceded by the article that should accompany
it, like a small introduction to the solidity
of objects. Language will be more exact, more
denotative, more lucid. It will have a better
relationship with the world about it. It will
not be connotative, vague and confusing.
It will not contain words like "email,"
"Internet" or "incentivize." It will not
contain expressions like "impactful" or
"leveraging resources." Instead, it will
improve our relationship with things--
they will be respected by the language
used to indicate them and in turn we
will know exactly what we are talking
about and therefore we will behave
more compassionately and thoughtfully
toward exterior reality.
There will be some words and
expressions that don't translate
to English, words like a-fucked-up-
mess-that-someone-probably-you-
has-created, or an-asshole-that-actually
comprises-the-entirety-of-an-ass,
or go kiss yourself, or the hole of a fly, or
a strawberry in slippers, or the cow, or like
a cow turned into an adjective, modifying
a noun to have the radicalism of a cow.
Every noun shall be gendered: the rug
will be masculine and the chair will be feminine.
Often adjectives and verbs will be gendered
as well according to the primacy of the noun
or pronoun. Because French has that bit
of hierarchy about it, that slight hesitation
when deciding on how formal a relationship
is to be. Again, it indicates a certain kind
of relationship with others, a relationship
not to be taken for granted, nor taken casually.
And yet, I may use a neutral pronoun
with no equivalent in English. This pronoun
gives the world some mystery, a space that
does not have to be so exact
within a language that is usually so.
Music is numbers within
time and the music of French
is somewhat like that, numbered
but not metered, counting but
straining a bit against that
predetermined abacus of line.
Each foot will stagger with the full
weight of history; a line will be a
timeline, with commas indicating
decades and endstops for centuries.
In that span it will be a language spoken
by many and uncontained by geography;
artificial yet durable, like fireworks,
fires of artifice in words to appear
in appointed spaces in time.


***

Marcella Durand is the author of Deep Eco Pré (with Tina Darragh), AREATraffic & Weather and Western Capital Rhapsodies. Her published translations from French include poems by Charles Baudelaire, Marcel Proust, Nicole Brossard, Eric Giraud and Michèle Métail. At present, she is working on a collection of poems titled The World Is Composed of Continuous Objects with Various Shapes that Can Obscure One Another.

Chia-Lun Chang

I have much to express about my accent, mostly frustration. This poem focuses on giving readings in public. I always drink a cup of wine before reading, so I can forget that there are certain words I'll never be able to pronounce correctly. I have also been thinking about the Rohingya people in Burma who have fled by boat and been stranded at sea. I sometimes feel I've become one of them, who stared at me through the pictures in the news.


***

The accent is floating above the reading

please bear with me

I'm sorry that you're sitting here
forced to be surrounded by my voice

'I don't see her lips moving correctly.
What’s the r sound? The sound is annoying.’ 

but I am standing here and have annoyed you, 
dragged you, punished you

I’m sorry

I was once your parent
who suffered escaping to the wonderland disorder 

once your uncle-in-law
who died alone in a opened closet 

once your pet
who whined in a cryptic space

twice your wallpaper
that peeled away through silent,

early morning. Your mailbox has received
thousands of correctly spelled and typed news from the world

sometimes I was your blackboard
where a teeth straightening system grew  

once I was you
who sucked your mom’s nipples

I’m sorry— I’m becoming a dishwasher right away

if one day you remember
please receive my poems

my tongue mixed too many oceans  
maybe it will drown next time

my tonsils swallowed a bag of stones
on the muddy path   

my throat has not applied for a passport
it is too thick to pass through your ears  

***

Chia-Lun Chang was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. She is a poet, playwright, visual artist and an events coordinator at Belladonna* Collaborative. Her recent work has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail and Bone Bouquet. A recipient of two teaching fellowships, she has taught Chinese in Vietnam and Mississippi, and is a recipient of a 2015 Immigrant Artist Mentoring fellowship from NYFA. She lives in New York.

Ali Power

I’m not the first to write a poem with this title. In an interview with David Sylvester (BBC) in the early ’60s (the answers to which were then reprinted in LOCATION, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1963), de Kooning says, “Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash.”

At the same time I was reading this interview, I became acquainted with Anselm Berrigan’srectangle poems, and I began this practice of writing poems with no beginning or end.

There are no periods in this poem. This poem is made up of very long lines (which began as rectangles) that can be read circularly.

I’m interested in the reciprocity between poetry and painting. I’m interested in learning from and writing parallel to works of art, that is, parallel to what is experienced by seeing—not towards or into what is seen (not ekphrasis).

I’m interested in enigma, not in fantasy.

I’m interested in contradictions. I’m interested in constructing violent juxtapositions.

I’m interested in the need to externalize what can’t be processed internally.

I’m interested in what it means to tell a story. I’m interested in creating an almost-invisible narrative scrim—a kind of non-linear narrative ghost.

I’m interested in my relationship to my own limitations.

I’m interested in identifying my habits and disrupting those habits.

I’m interested in what it means to be the sum of our interests.

I’m interested in the actions, or non-actions, of coming together and moving apart, stopping and going, stasis and movement, and I’m interested in how these things can be enacted in poetry.

I’m interested in changing, that is, in moving. As Robert Rauschenberg said, “If you’re not moving, then you’re heading to rot.”

Merritt Parkway,  Nichols-Shelton Road Bridge, Fairfield County, CT (ca. 1940s)

Merritt Parkway,  Nichols-Shelton Road Bridge, Fairfield County, CT (ca. 1940s)

***

CONTENT IS A GLIMPSE

for Willem de Kooning

canvassing the open road for footlongs, should’ve been a purdy bohemian, a little
             woman, bare feet, mini-cutoffs, dweller of Pennsylvania farmhouse, bearer of
             caresses, ornamented bedhead dyed Easter, coo-coo, French, do I want to make it
             a meal?, yes, this food is killing us, O, Merritt Parkway, 4-car garage, tennis court
             capitalists, pelvis to pelvis, so much light,

no past but memory, its independent clauses, splayed palaces empty of darkness where
             everyone’s hot all the time, frantic, soggy candies, oversaturated surf, no-love
             veranda, trying hard to make it work, hooked on ambivalence, protection from
             divine indifference, fantasy apologies, multiple injuries,

we intimated too much, all of it, miscommunication morass, massive playground from
             hell, mixed- signals, chiaroscuros, considering how long I’ve kept this body alive,
             this trouble orb, not cut-up, but cut-out, doing it until I get it right, swimming
             towards platters of shrimp cocktail, giant dying bouquets, clarity,

catastrophic furniture wherever you turn, the conference room’s slippery husband,
             chaste, fetishized, fig, a voluptuous potager in bloom, a likeness, perhaps, a
             memory, a technique, a solution to always reading into it, music, micro
             earthquakes, foam along the edge, like that time I took an accidental nap on your
             couch in the middle of the afternoon, astral, never again, just like that,

this coarse body disappears, becomes metabolic smoke, swirls of what we know as heat
             (energy) in the form of sparklers (but it’s not July), and all this then comes out
             through the nose and mouth, fighting for your piece, your nervous system,
             whatever frequency you need is already there, so purge,

***

Ali Power is the author of A Poem for Record Keepers, her first full-length book of poetry, forthcoming from Argos Books in spring 2016 and is the editor of New York School Painters & Poets: Neon in Daylight (Rizzoli, October 2014). Power has been an editor at Rizzoli Publications in New York City since 2007 and will attend NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in fall 2015 to pursue the MSW.

Oli Hazzard

A couple of years ago I spent a few weeks with Google “translating” some Borges sonnets with the intention of completing all 136 of them (four are here). Before abandoning the project I converted a few of these quite classical sonnets into prose poems, one upshot of which was becoming more attentive to how the transition from poem to prose-poem does or doesn't make itself apparent in the final product. In his introduction to his prose version of the Divine Comedy, Charles Eliot Norton describes how a reader's "imagination may mould the prose as it moulded the verse", and (though it may not be exactly what he meant) this phrase describes quite closely how even after the Borges sonnets became prose I continued to look for and experience and implement the enjambment of the original poems (and their translations) as a series of healed or concealed breaks in the prose line. This idea that generic transgression can somehow be inscribed in absentia led in a roundabout way to Within Habit. (This playing around with Borges was also, in part, why I used for the cover of the pamphlet one of Simon Hantai's “Etudes”, which I was thinking about a lot while assembling the poems -- in the process of being made those paintings changed state from painting to sculpture and back again, and it is this process of transition which creates the content of the piece almost as a by-product.) I had a few incomplete, lineated poems which I decided to put into justified banks of prose, but since nobody would have these original texts I included a vertical line indicating where the line-break had occurred in this previous incarnation. I then folded in large amounts of prose from the internet—from news websites, Wikipedia, essays and articles on a diverse range of subjects—and subjected that prose to this process of marked division. By that point these divisions were being implemented as much to indicate where one source-text stopped and another began, or for purely visual purposes, or simply at random, as to act as a visual marker of where enjambment occurs elsewhere. I ended up with a 20-poem sequence, and this is the last of them.

Simon Hantai "Etude"

Simon Hantai "Etude"

***

from WITHIN HABIT


***

Oli Hazzard's first book, Between Two Windows, was published by Carcanet in 2012. It won the Michael Murphy Prize for a first collection and an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, and was a book of the year in the Financial TimesGuardian and Times Literary Supplement. A pamphlet of prose poems, Within Habit, was published by Test Centre earlier this year. He is currently a DPhil candidate at Wolfson College, Oxford, where he's writing his thesis on John Ashbery.

Lara Mimosa Montes

The sadistic revolving door of femininity that is the film Chinese Roulette, directed by the German auteur, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, first prompted this poem. I remember writing it beside Gilles Deleuze’s book on masochism, Coldness and Cruelty, while listening (on repeat) to The Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes For You”—it was a very self-indulgent time.

 

 

Margit Carstensen in Chinese Roulette, dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1976

Margit Carstensen in Chinese Roulette, dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1976

 

***

 

The Charm of Chinese Roulette

is its icy nudes, greys, and blues

Those colors  nude
grey and grey-blue
are like masochism

and in that way they are just
like this song a song which is
ideally suited for women who prefer bourbon

I do as you ought to
do as these women do
and ask yourself why?

Go ahead, ask yourself—
Be Modern or Suffer
if it yields nothing, cunt, standby

because to be a woman is to be patient
but if you are a woman who can afford silk
suede, or, say, bourbon you may know that
some questions will be as unknowable

to you as your mother’s maiden name
drunk or not you know better than to ask
your mother or your muse Margit why

***

Lara Mimosa Montes is a writer based in Minneapolis and New York. Her poems and essays have appeared in FenceTriple CanopyPoor ClaudiaThe FanzineBOMBrecaps, and elsewhere. She currently teaches feminist and queer theory at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Amanda Nadelberg

Nathaniel Dorsky (still) August and After

Nathaniel Dorsky (still) August and After

I say Incremona to myself a lot—blame Italian movies. I love the films of Nathaniel Dorksy. Once I asked him a question in a room of people before the SFMOMA closed (for what seems like ever) though I cannot remember what the question was. We rely on technology to remember for us (and then this). I depend on parentheticals and even scrub my life of some. I can hear people on the street. I sent my parents that article about death and IDEO and they read it and now they’re reading that book on tidying because I just couldn’t shut up about it. My dad’s excited. My mom seems a little scared; I have come to realize she’s not as organized as I am. Poems are attempts at miscommunication in addition to its opposite and I can’t promise to tell you anything after that, at least not this. You use the life you’re in to create forms. Yesterday morning I remembered how wonderful it is to not know everything.

Linear Motor

I am here for my sister with a voice
like a boat if it wasn’t the first time
someone had given me a present
they wanted. Tuesdays are hard for
me, he wasn’t calling me babe, in
August and after Dorsky, sitcoms as
someone’s brother. I left my house to
ride the pedestrian wave, ever since
procedure there is in me a sea. Of
orchids and peasants moss became
an echo laced by the front door
sounding furious to its own dim
hands. Incremona!, there is no color
but things, I work with my feelings or
his red bicycle. (Line.) It took weeks
to clear up the mess, what I have is my
mouth I think to the women passing.
I still need buttons from the store.
History moves in circumstantial years
as artless practice for later entrance
ports. This is about that. Explanatory
holy work in the depths.

***

Amanda Nadelberg is the author of Bright Brave Phenomena (Coffee House, 2012), Isa the Truck Named Isadore (Slope Editions, 2006) and two chapbooks: Building Castles in Spain, Getting Married (The Song Cave, 2009) and Delphiniums (speCt!, 2013). A third book of poems, Songs from a Mountain is forthcoming from Coffee House Press in 2016. She lives in Oakland. 

Elizabeth Metzger

Several summers ago, while participating in Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, I visited the Kunstkamera, Russia's first museum of anthropology and ethnography. In the first collection of “Natural Sciences,” a round room containing Peter the Great’s collection of scientific and medical wonders, I remember, among the whisperings of a language that seemed made for whispering and the array of odd-looking animals, one section of preserved human babies, referred to in the English as “monsters.” Among vital misshapen organs, there were jars upon jars of preformed embryos and floating stillborns. In a time before science could detect many of these medical abnormalities in utero, many babies were carried to term and deemed monsters upon birth. There were twins conjoined at the head, a fetus attached to a dyed-orange placenta in a vessel decorated with seahorses, a child’s lace-sleeved arm with hand somehow still grasping. Outside of the modern discourse for understanding genetic mutations, medical conditions, and disability in general, I was awed, moved, disgusted, and free to feel the fears of a potential future son gather inside me and around me. This imagined son, whom I still dream about, desire, and am already terrified by, took on all my Fear and Self-Consciousness. My imagination turned inside out, into a son who could overpower and confound me with my own obsessions. This son has visited me in other poems as a companion. He is my unknown, the one I beckon though he threatens to stop me from speaking.

“Small Talk with an Imagined Son” has been “gestating” all that time, and has developed as my idea of a future son has become both fleshier and more fantastic. In the poem, I speak to the unborn son about my fears for him. Even at a distance of time and space, he begins to take form and deform my own assumptions. Just as the babies at the Kunstkamera seemed supernaturally alive, both dead and forever unborn, in this poem I speak as long as the son cannot, while he is still within me imaginatively and not yet within me physically. I bless him to keep him from cursing back.


***

SMALL TALK WITH AN IMAGINED SON

I’ve felt cold enough toward you
to soften a diamond with my teeth.

All right, I’m a little afraid.

It’s the zeroing in of All That Could
Possibly Go Wrong vs. Myself.

I’ve crawled over your first potential steps
marking and proofing
the sockets of the world for charge.

When the dialogue of one God
is split and distributed among humans

I’d rather you be dumb
than electric.

I hear you sobbing for me
like a grown-up man
deep in the loins of a white-walled obsession.

See, I’m afraid reciting every lord’s and post-
lord’s prayer.

***

Elizabeth Metzger is a University Writing Teaching Fellow at Columbia University and the Poetry Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal. In 2013, she won the Narrative Magazine Poetry Contest. Her poems and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from the Kenyon Review Online, the Yale ReviewSouthwest Review, and Guernica, among other places.

Todd Colby

Lately I’ve been fascinated by this photo of Arthur Rimbaud in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) taken when he was 29 years old in 1883. When I zoomed in on the photo I saw this grown man, Rimbaud, a worried, weary guy. Oh, the last line in my poem is about me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Disastrous Consequences

If it’s not too late,
I would like to make big changes
in nearly everyone by Wednesday.
I am heading to the fire tower.
Do you understand what I’m saying?

Human beings are awkward
and they transmit a hard edge
that makes it difficult to get things done around them.
Slush, ice, rain, shit.
A mother points at her son’s boots
and says, “Those are not
completely rainproof boots. “
And the son takes note of it
and he remembers.

Some people find relief when they listen
to music that has a certain tone that appeals
to their own tone. It’s going to be alright
because we are flesh at this juncture.
Your agency knows no release. Joy Division
did a wonderful cover of “Sister Ray”
that peters out at the end.

There, there.

I’m husky and I have a funky disposition.

***

Todd Colby has published five books of poetry: RipsnortCushRiot in the Charm Factory: New and Selected Writings, and Tremble & Shine, all published by Soft Skull Press. Flushing Meadows was published by Scary Topiary Press in 2013. Colby’s latest book, Splash State, was published by The Song Cave in 2014.

Matt Longabucco

What is it about that moment when the one’s voice is on the other’s lips? This poem is the kind whose germinal phrases you scrawl on a cocktail napkin when you’re out for a drink to come down from a night that stretched your nerves to the limit with stimulation. Its sources—“Holy Grail,” Wuthering Heights, Claudia Rankine’s reading at the Poetry Project in December 2014—are operatic in their intensity, emitting haunting echoes, vital interference.

 

 

 


***

codeX feat. EB

split-second when Jay-Z falls back onto the bed

and Justin Timberlake’s voice comes out of his mouth

to 79 million views (that’s a million plus

my 78 million)

:: he himself is emphasis


like Heathcliff’s unmistakable breeches

two brown circles on the knees


years later, passing amongst the chilly graves

they heard two muffled noises they couldn’t have known

were the cork from the champagne bottle placed in his coffin

spontaneously popping, followed by its ricochet off the lid


didn’t Claudia’s kindness hurt, the other night?

fan out, seethe in repose, die unreconciled, wear no collar, be butane

to cognac, commit falsetto, geek ye out on meter, loungeth upon the bleachers—

your wayfaring throws a shadow we add to cover

no, not “kindness”         no, not “hurt”

***

Matt Longabucco is the author of the chapbook Everybody Suffers: The Selected Poems of Juan García Madero (O’Clock Press 2014).  Other work has appeared recently in CapriciousThe Brooklyn Rail, and Parkett.  He is a co-founder of Wendy’s Subway, a 24-hour library, workspace, and meeting space for writers, artists, and readers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  He teaches at New York University and lives in Brooklyn.

Trace Peterson

This poem emerged from my documentation of the process of transitioning (changing my sex from male to female) via constant strategically provocative oversharing on facebook during the past year. A listing of drugs and their corresponding symptoms led to a moment in which I realized I didn’t have to work so hard to convince a reader about the reality of my subjectivity or my existence as an author. There could instead be a certain authority in the mere act of assuming readers who agreed sympathetically that trans people are human beings rather than symptoms of babel, capitalism, decadence, or society going to hell in a handbasket. These readers at the same time would be able to enjoy linguistic play, and be capable of participating as allies alongside my experience of the frustrations and joys of what it means to be approaching oneself while bubbling as long as possible on the improvisational stove.

 

 

***

 

THE VALLEYS ARE SO LUSH AND STEEP

I have not been having an easy HRT experience for a trans gal, especially when it comes to blocking testosterone so my body can develop properly in relation to estrogen.

*

Spironolactone gave me brain fog, so to block T, I switched to Finasteride.

*

The blocker dose of Finasteride made me too sleepy to function, so I switched to Progesterone.

 *

Progesterone had some nice effects but it made me loopy and had a kind of thought-freezing effect, so I switched to Dutasteride.

*

Dutasteride made me too sleepy to function and caused me to phase shift into a fourth dimension at unexpected moments, so I switched to Walzanone.

*

Walzanone helped ease off my body hair, but it gave me unanticipated telekinetic powers which would cause a table to fly crashing across the room when I got upset with someone, so I switched to Benefiontin.

*

Benefiontin seemed to be working for a while and I could genuinely concentrate, until I slowly became aware that it was making my skin fluorescent green and stretchable over any nearby hardwood surfaces. Punk rock anamorphosis had ended long ago, so I switched to Penalzombion.

*

While I enjoyed the ultra-feminine high that Penalzombion enfaulked from my kinesthetic being, it had the unfortunate side effect of causing me to hate most poetry I hear, or maybe that was just poetry. In any case, the constant sore throat or what they call the "Penalzombion engorgement" became highly inconvenient when I needed to sing impromptu arias for job talks on composition theory. So I switched to Rubicon.

*

Though not technically a blocker, Rubicon had several advantages in terms of how it personified and mirrored my t-levels internally. A short-range tactical missile flew by in search of its drone-targeted recipient. Testosterone self-reflectiveness on Rubicon invaded my being on a coding level of intensity to the point where rows of shark teeth swallowed every time management skill I ever learned. There was no going back. I decided that Rubicon was too much of a simultaneously alienated and intimately ski mask experience. So I switched to Novascotia.

*

The best side effect of Novascotia was its remoteness. Though it made me feel slightly alienated around other poets, I did manage to get a lot of writing done. However, in the process I lost all sense of reality and missed my grant deadlines for the fourth time. A mouse ear grew out of my hand. Peach cobbler. So I switched to Nepotismapolitan.

*

With Nepotismapolitan I definitely engrotted some anti-testosterone connections in the entertainment world, which had me at an advantage when passing as entertainmentally female, but my pores became enormous. When I think back I wonder if Nepotismapolitan was taunting me the whole time. Gam tumescent wing growth polited out of the sinking vessel. Due to interaction warnings I couldn't eat too much processed food anymore and my T levels were still too high, so I switched to Wellmasteride.

*

I liked the feeling of cosmic omnipotence corresponding with complete and utter abjection that Wellmasteride gave me, being at once a unique delicate flower/snowflake and a humanistic reproconfection seeking air time like every other platelet in the bloodstream, but it made me inconveniently leery of discussions about trigger warnings and delaying puberty in children. Pang of detained weekend fixture turned permanent yawp. I stopped thugging around in my endocrine blotter with Wellmasteride, and instead turned to Jaimeleecuritsol.

*

Jaimeleecurtisol made me witty and urbane. Being around me was like an episode of female Frasier slightly sped up. But soon the crash happened and we were in a recession. Jaimeleecurtisol caused me to scream and scream at the horrible truth coming at me about how people really perceived my gender suddenly rushing at me around street corners. So I switched to Smallpondilaxone.

*

Smallpondilaxone made me feel big.
For a minute I contemplated calling an agent
to discuss my enormous very specialized coupon stash, but I
couldn't get out of bed. So next I tried Crepusculane.

*

Now the great thing about Crepusculane was that on this one I really felt like myself on five cups of coffee for a few minutes lugging a trampoline up the capital steps past the stone lions that guarded the secret to what's inside increasingly smaller panties I never held any responsibility for, a good place to do research. I made all kinds of appointments to publish poet things and attend everybody's readings in a stacker, almost steroid-like configuration demented with charm. But the hyper-concentration that Crepusculane offers caused me instead to stare at a Grecian Urn for days on end, transfixed by thoughts of lighting up and smoking the latest national or statewide poet laureate or at least getting a medical prescription for him/her to become culturally all over me. Crepusculane rendered my t-levels nearly invisible as I lay swooning across a Chatterton velvet couch in my garret, but there was no one around but me to serenade, so I switched to Lesbiamine.

*

Lesbiamine caused .................................................. in peace talks.................……………………………………………………………………………….
.............................................. rankled tall girl spat juicer ......................... but
……………………………………………………………………………….
................... looks at your spork .......................... like a gorgon, tufts of .......……………………………………………………………………………….
kissing us in the museum ..............................................................................
.................................... making me.................... attachment weekend blocker
………………………………………………………………………………
my leg around your .......................................................................................
............................................ wetter, a death ....................... bank holiday itch
..........................................................................................................................
clasped…………………………………………… in a restaurant booth........
..... or vamp stamped .................. something chocolate ...................................
………………………………………………………………………………..
.........................................anxiety being unsexy……………………………...
...................................and you need lateness…………………………………
..........................................................................................................................
destorying me ..................................................................................................
.......................................................................................too intense.................
like the crushed flower. I couldn't take all the ellipses anymore and they were intruding into my dissertation writing time, so I switched to Pastoralwenchtrin.

 *

I think I am going to stick with Pastoralwenchtrin for awhile and see where this goes. It's quiet here and there are sheep and no wolves masquerading as bears climbing the hillside of an apple danish I bought from my student loan debt ceiling. As long as I pay the credit card bills by end of the month and get my name changed in time for the church basement sale, maybe I can find a way to live. As my body reaches a kind of equilibrium, I am trying to have as small a percentage of me as possible be fabricated as method acting and as great a possibility as a pink skull half-shaven skyline be real. The valleys are so lush and steep. How to end not wanting to be myself being not quite myself.

***

Trace Peterson is a trans woman poet critic. Author of the poetry book Since I Moved In (Chax Press, 2007) and numerous chapbooks. She is editor/publisher of EOAGH, and coeditor of the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2013), which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. She also wrote the first article about trans poets to appear in a peer-reviewed academic journal; it can be found in the current issue of TSQ. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at CUNY Graduate Center, and also serves on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.