Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"If Your Uterus Runs on Birth Control Standard Time, Allow Me to Jog Your Memory"

"If Your Uterus Runs on Birth Control Standard Time, Allow Me to Jog Your Memory"
by Mindy Nettifee

It is truly something, after all these years,
how it never fails to catch me by surprise, at least a little,
despite the week of warning signs,
the swollen sore breasts sulking in the cage of an underwire,
the awesome overreaction parade.

How it casts the previous three days in a radical new light—
explaining the asshole on Friday who spoke four decibels too loud
and wore his ego like a unitard of burrs;
why I struggled not to cry when that text message took that tone with me;
why I drank way too much at the Neil Diamond impersonator concert
and kissed that girl full on the flower;
why I ate shit biking home the next day;
why I lay on the couch for hours and hours watching movie previews
and eating chocolate popsicles and feeling sorry for myself;
why I grew forests wanting you to come back.

Slightly dazed at the small rosy sunset of evidence,
I tilt my head to the side and relive it all,
letting the humiliation do its humble work.

I am suddenly not unraveling, sweetwonderfuljesus.
I am not a crazy person, trapped in a spiraling universe
of increasingly implacable darkness and despair.
I am not losing it at all,
or I am, but in the most familiar unchangeable way.
It’s just the goodbye party I am never invited to but always throwing.
Just the unwinding of the world’s oldest clock,
the one that will wake me up two weeks from now
in the dark first hours of the morning
with its soft insistent ticking.

Happiness is a Hot Mess

Happiness is a Hot Mess
by Lauren Zuniga

There are vegetables overflowing from every surface.
Growing from pots, saved from dumpsters, crooked
sculptures in bowls. The windows are open. Sampson
and Delilah are necking, frenzied black fur and growl.

Lemon Engine is learning the banjo. Cigarette perched
on bottom lip. Clumsy claw hammer. Occasionally,
she looks up to see if she is disturbing anyone. Even
the ceramic owls are tapping their feet. The ants two-
step along mean trails of cayenne. No one is going
anywhere.

The shower curtain keeps falling. The door is off its
hinges. This house is not used to such warm sirens.
Rising up smells like lavender oil and a pile of sweaty
girls. I fell off my bike yesterday; I’ve been admiring
the wound all morning.

Abundance is a handmade grail, filled with mulberry
mead. All these years, I had mistaken it for a clean
house and full bank account. When it came, I didn’t
even notice the casual spill. How it stained the linens.
How it made every crevice glow so loud and sweet.

From an Atlas of the Difficult World

From an Atlas of the Difficult World
by Adrienne Rich

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains’ enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your hand
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Vincent Warren Period

My Vincent Warren Period
by Prudence Chamberlain

I feel joyfully
uncommitted
in the mornings
& I make coffee
am not hung over
open my laptop
to begin again
with poems
almost a lady lazarus
of 9am but less
internal rhyme
& a little less feeling

It’s like that time I joined
the Labour Party & ignored
all of their e-mails until
a local representative turned
up on the door step
like some dispossessed
disenfranchised ideology in a
sad greying suit

I had a paintbrush in my hand; ripped trousers;
sometimes I’m so butch & so great & had been
painting a wall
but I see myself reflected
in the eyes of others & I know I’m O’Hara
fairy not Myles urban gunslinger

since I’ve met you
I can’t stop for writing
& this better not be
my Vincent Warren period

where you go off to Canada
leave me with an ugly STI
& my death is imminent
& if we’re honest you’re
not the beauty of the Bolshoi ballet in a body
but there’s something in the fragile
between that obvious collar bone &
the line of your shirt that subtlety of
masculine I love all the way through
your jaw line

we’re all such straight lines aren’t we?
The way we fall & fuck & think

So I dance to show tunes all the way across
my bed which is paisley & made
& think about my ineffectual political subjectivities

How I Became Impossible

How I Became Impossible
by Mary Ruefle

I was born shy, congenitally unable to do anything
profitable, to see anything in color, to love plums,
with a marked aversion to traveling around the room,
which is perfectly normal in infants.
Who wrote this? were my first words.
I did not like to be torched.
More snow fell than was able to melt,
I became green-eyed and in due time traveled
to other countries where I formed opinions
on hard, cold, shiny objects and soft, warm,
nappy things. Late in life I began to develop
a passion for persimmons and was absolutely delighted
when a postcard arrived for the recently departed.
I became recalcitrant, spending more and more time
with my rowboat. All my life I thought polar bears
and penguins grew up together playing side by side
on the ice, sharing the same vista, bits of blubber
and innocent lore. One day I read a scientific journal;
there are no penguins at one pole, no bears
on the other. These two, who were so long intimates
in my mind, began to drift apart, each on his own floe,
far out into the glacial seas. I realized I was becoming
impossible, more and more impossible,
and that one day it really would be true.

Clown


Clown
by Chelsey Minnis 

It seems like I'm growing more and more like a clown. First of all, I'm always
sad. Secondly, all my knives are made out of rubber. Thirdly, it's like my house
is on fire.

No, I'm definitely becoming more like a clown. I have a tendency to want to put
on clown clothes. As soon as I put the clown clothes on I feel faintly happier...

Another sign is that I constantly feel like I'm alone in a dressing room. Most
of the time I feel amused. Anyway, the only thing good about the circus is
the tigers.

I realize that I could get both legs cut off by the circus train or get frightened
by an elephant. But it's very depressing to sit around in a clown suit and think
about death.

Sometimes I don't feel happy unless I'm in my clown suit. And I enjoy hitting
people on the head with a foam club. I really do...

When people see me they realize that it looks very sophisticated to wear a clown
suit and smoke a cigarette. This is how I get all the ladies because they think I'm
very droll.

People don't understand how you turn into a clown. You turn into a clown
because you feel more and more like putting on a clown suit. When you're
around people you sense a kindliness. It makes you so nervous you can't
stay calm. Which is why it feels perfectly normal to wear orange pants.

Plus, it's very subversive to wear bow ties. You can't imagine how jolly
everything is. And the fright wigs... I don't want to be a clown but I'm
sure to be one. My mother was a clown.