November 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
We went the KGB bar the other night to hear three poets: Fanny Howe, Ana Božičević and Star Black. The small, very dark, old -fashioned barroom, up a flight of stairs, is red and black with Communist posters, pictures and flags of the hammer & sickle on the wall. There are wooden tables and you get your own drinks. After we’d been sitting in the dark awhile—the reading started late—a young man who looked one of the actors on Entourage sat down to talk to us about the bar. “I guess there are still a lot of Communists,” he said.
“The name is meant to be ironic,” I replied. “It was opened in the ‘90’s, after the wall came down.”
“Really? Well, yeah, but maybe not. Maybe there are still some serious ones and this is their place.”
What can you say to that? That idealistic American Communists would not open a bar and call it KGB? It’s strange to be the old ones, to whom this history isn’t history. I find myself feeling possessive—the 2nd half of the 20th century is mine, mine and my peers and our parents: if you want to know it, you have to pay very close attention; I won’t say anything twice. And I didn’t. I leaned back and let Charles talk to him.
Fanny Howe didn’t make it, sadly; her place was taken by Leopoldine Core, a poet who appears to be in her 20’s. She was suggested by Ana, and it’s easy to see why. They both hail from the left side of reality (which doesn’t make them Communists). Her poems are funny, sexy, digressive, alluring; she pulls you into her mind so fast, you have no chance to decide whether you want to be there are not. She sounds like the weird girl in the class talking to herself, the kind that in 1970 would have been fragile, no matter how smart, but in this era is self-possessed and unafraid.
Lots of sexual rumination and ruminating rumination, just chewing on those words, having fun; I, I, I, more little curls and nips of sex, wandering thoughts let wander, then closed with a buttonhook. It’s a bravura performance of how consciousness moves and her consciousness is of course like no other. Nobody’s is, but it’s very hard to capture that depth of difference. Listening, you remember the privilege the best writing gives: that glimpse into another mind, that shiver as your own mind bends down to taste.
Ana is an old favorite of mine. Her poems are also digressive, with startling leaps of imagery, words circling around around the clot of self in the brain, the cunt, the throat, all her provinces collaborating to figure out (or not) the sprawling world. It’s the world of an expatriate–she was born in Zagreb; moved here at 20–and she has that double vision that’s so powerful in poetry and comedy. Her poems are denser than Leopoldine’s, harder to follow, and the tensions are greater. One hand thrusts a sword into her stomach as the other tosses jags of lightning and zoo animals into the night; then you notice the sword has fallen out and the blood is flowing back in, red as a smile…was she in control of it all the time? I’m never sure.
Sometimes her poems remind me of riding in a limousine, very drunk and stoned but hyper alert to the world flashing outside, the stranger/lover beside me putting his/her hand under my skirt…an experience I’ve never actually had, in that detail, but I’ve done something similar in a taxi and I’ve ridden in limos at funerals when I was young enough to find it all acutely weird as well as sad. (Not my immediate family deaths; we had no limos). In Ana’s poems the memories fuse.
I also liked seeing her in the flesh; her tall sturdy body, her blond hair, her Slavic face, the way she rocks and sort of dances as she reads, dislodging the words from their homes in her hips and spine and pelvic girdle. (Strictly speaking, the pelvic girdle includes the hips, but I’m taking all the words I want.) It was hard to take my eyes off her body-her presence is very sexual in an diffident, slightly disjunct way. It’s hard to describe except to say she’s obviously not American.
Star Black I’ve heard before: she’s one of those poets, one of those people, whom you immediately put into the pile of the good ones who should never be taken, who should be restored after death in another body to grace the world. Her poems were less wild than the other two, her intelligence more orderly, but her imagination is full to the top and overflowing, like wave after wave of white birds in service to a Wiccan priestess.
She read the following poem, which is probably where I got the bird idea. I listened and thought: not me, grade school has disappeared utterly. But I’m with her all the same.
Moving away from rattled towns,
gaining, as a bird in a dishwasher,
an altered view, the owlish lakefronts
with their punch-clock crews
seem less luckless, the lunch-pail
chatter less dim; even recess seems pleasant.
Schoolmates from the third grade call
and nothing since matters,
you leap into kerosene waters
and swim, leaving the nervous talons
on a perch. The past doesn’t hurt,
the past is divine, everyone
the same age at the same time.
Moving is a white lie, a soft arrow.
I’ve already had a poem by Ana on this site, but here’s one by Leopoldine from The Paris Review that I’m probably not allowed to use, so it might not be up long.
I’m a freak
in a nightgown
a cool garden drips.
All this wasted time
could be full of something
but I’m always on the rug.
I’ve had good ideas
and placed them decorously
around the room,
all the little fish still
wriggling on their hooks.
I’ve had more good ideas
and kept them in the liquid
of my mind until they all
started to rot.
I’ve made a snack and
I’ve called a dead friend.
I don’t like everything I do.
I’ve let all the ghosts
feel me up
and it reminds me
of being on the subway
the things people will do
if you give them the green light
and then you do.
Well I do.
And then they touch me
and I pretend not to notice.
That is my joy.
It’s underwater all the time.
But it has not been a total waste
all this silence.
I think it’s more of a steak
than a hole.
ITS NOT SILENCE
since now there’s no room
in the world unmarked
by human noise.
I’ve thought hard about this.
I’ve dug a dirt hole in my own
bedroom and lived there
rubbing my clit with a penny
under my blanket
there’s an old sandwich
and a jewel.
I’ve already published one of Ana’s poems, but here’s a link
November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
My friend Meg was going to name the imaginary cat-mascot in her new cat/writer blog the name I came up with: Miss Pussy. Instead she chose Moon Pie, from the novel In Country, by Bobbie Ann Mason, when Bobbie Ann Mason suggested it. When your favorite writer offers a character from a favorite book, what can you do but sigh in delirious gratitude? So I’m stuck with Miss Pussy, who now has no home, but has slid a delicate gray paw into the world. Her claws are sharp and glitter in the lamp light. She is not pleased at being summoned into existence only to find herself unwanted.
“It’s not you,” I say. “It’s them.”
She tilts her head, regarding me from eyes that are closed but for a seam of fire. “Tell me. Am I a lady or a whore?”
“Where did you hear about such things, Miss Pussy? You’re barely born.”
She yawns, the pink ribs of her mouth so tempting—the white teeth so alarming. The yawn lasts a very long time. “The point of being an imaginary creature is that I am complete from the start.”
“You’re not complete. I have only a fleeting sense of you.” I can’t see her hindquarters or her tail.
“You haven’t decided whether I’m a girl’s school headmistress or a brothel madam catering to imaginary beings.”
“If you mean fictional characters, there’s no need. They fuck each other all the time.” And the writer, alone at her desk, compels each fornication. She can’t stop even if she wants to.
“You forget the minor characters. Everyone does. The nosy upstairs neighbor, the woman in the flower shop, the second cousin. They’re fully alive but without obstacle or climax. What would you do in that situation?”
As if she doesn’t know. “So you are a madam.”
“I am Miss Pussy. I provide feline services for deserving writers, in their heads.”
“In their dreams?’
“In their heads. I lick their brains.”
“That sounds unsanitary.”
“You haven’t seen my tongue.”
“It’s starlight and sandpaper, exactly the temperature of water when you’re trying to decide if the heat is running out or coming back.” Her whiskers twitch with satisfaction.
I don’t know why, but this exposes the weak place in me, where only paper keeps out the cold and the dark. “I think not, Miss Pussy. You sound like me when I’m trying too hard. Goodbye.”
It’s so easy to kill them. I make them; I kill them. Sometimes I only make them partially and leave them like that for years. It’s debilitating, knowing they’re all waiting, mute, without their final pieces, accusing: why don’t you love me anymore?
Come back, Miss Pussy. I didn’t mean to kill you.
But the one who comes through is not her. It’s the man whose wife put a voodoo doll of me in the freezer. Maybe if he hadn’t told me that—they say voodoo works by the power of suggestion. Or maybe if I knew what he did with it, if he deconsecrated it or just stuffed it the trash….
Someone picked it out of the bin, a street person. I can’t tell if it’s a woman or a man. He/she keeps it with him/her, telling it all the things nobody ever wants to hear. The doll is like a woman with advanced Lou Gehrig’s disease, that last moment when nothing can move but the brain hasn’t stopped yet. She’s been burned by the crack pipe. She’s been gnawed by rats. She’ll last a long time, unless she’s dropped under a subway train.
“Miss Pussy? Can you talk to the other imaginary ones? There’s a kind of shapeless doll-margaret-like thing…”
She sits on my chest. “Describe ME.”
Miss Pussy, lithe and smoke gray, has silky hair that never mats, and seven toes on each paw. She’s got the face of an Egyptian goddess: a narrow chin, slim black nose and whiskers as strong as piano wire. And her eyes—
Oh, Christ. Fitzroy’s got his teeth in the back of Mouchette’s neck again; he’s pinning her down. It’s all my fault, letting the demons out…I have to go….
He’s not in the apartment. Perhaps he’s left me for a woman shaped like a guitar, without a head. It would be no more than I deserve. But he said just yesterday that he’s happier than he’s ever been. What a peculiar world.
There he is, in the hall by the elevator, patting Lola who appears to be having an orgasm on the carpet.
Missy Pussy, we need a governess.
She’s disappeared, all but the whiskers. You run into those in the dark, you could cut your throat.
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were–I have not seen
As others saw–I could not bring
My passions from a common spring–
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow–I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone–
And all I lov’d–I lov’d alone–
Then–in my childhood–in the dawn
Of a most stormy life–was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still–
From the torrent, or the fountain–
From the red cliff of the mountain–
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold–
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by–
From the thunder, and the storm–
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—
–Edgar Allen Poe
November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
The New York Times and other popular media are suddenly all over climate change. Sandy, of course, the talks in Doha, a delayed reaction to the huge ice melt in the arctic this summer, and a number of reports that have come out this week—the World Bank’s among them—that suggest that things are either worse than you thought, or as bad as you thought, depending. It’s a confluence of newsworthy moments, which will pass.
I had a reader respond angrily to one of my posts about climate change. There are many possibilities as to why she took it personally, but mulling it over took me, perhaps, far from the cause of her distress, but more generally applicable: this is what happens with an issue so uncertain and nightmarish. You may have believed “the facts” for years, but when you suddenly feel, on a gut level, that these what-if scenarios are real, terribly dangerous, very likely to happen—the fear and grief are overwhelming.
Some people lash out in situations like that. I tend to lash in. I start thinking about all the lost things; I feel inadequate to the urgent needs of the world; I want to hide in dreams or books or drinks or, most pressingly, the rhythm of a November walk. The luminous grey sky, the bare arms of the trees, the cold against my ears, the dirty-laundry swish of fallen leaves—this walk so like all the walks I’ve ever taken in November.
Both the lashing out and lashing in are effects of this knowledge we haven’t factored in yet fully: current climate change deniers are only the beginning. When ordinary, well-meaning people start truly imagining their children’s lives not in terms of success and grandchildren, but survival and chaos, the result will be a ferocious anger and where will it be directed?
Groups like 350.org think it’s important to identify villains—energy companies—and at first I thought that was simplistic, since we’re all complicit, but on the political level it’s astute. Blaming oneself for huge failures feels really shitty. Recognition is helpful; anger is not. But anger is a good way to bind social groups, and since so much of it will be floating around a few years from now, it’s wise to dig & fortify the channels for it now.
I’ve begun to notice the different ways people resist me when I talk about climate change catastrophe. Their words and body language evoke images: the woman who creates a moat around herself with doggie-paddle strokes; the one with an impermeable force field my words bounce off of; many who switch channels automatically to the concrete, the here-and-now of weather or action. My favorite is the people who say, “I don’t allow negativity in my life.” Yeah. That works.
My ‘lashing in’ doesn’t last. In the aggregate, my reading makes me feel less self-involved. I appreciate the rain, the trees still standing, old New York brownstones and iconic modern buildings in their landscapes of sky. I want to pay more attention to the children in my family.
November for Beginners
Snow would be the easy
way out—that softening
sky like a sigh of relief
at finally being allowed
to yield. No dice.
We stack twigs for burning
in glistening patches
but the rain won’t give.
So we wait, breeding
mood, making music
of decline. We sit down
in the smell of the past
and rise in a light
that is already leaving.
We ache in secret,
a gloomy line
or two of German.
When spring comes
we promise to act
the fool. Pour,
rain! Sail, wind,
with your cargo of zithers!
November 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Thanksgiving came and went while I toiled like one of Santa’s aging, non-union elves putting jewelry up on my Etsy site. Please delight your female loved ones—or your more-beloved self—with a gift of a handmade necklace or pair of earrings. You’ve been talking about buying American, buying local, shunning big corporations, haven’t you? I heard you. I know your sweetheart, sister or mother will sigh in disappointment if you give her another mass-produced, oil-dependent item, something that will wreck the climate, harm her immune system and breed lice.
My jewelry is more beautiful than the pictures show, really. Everyone tells me so. If I had the stamina for craft shows or the apartment for parties, it would be easier, but I don’t. Online is what I have. Etsy doesn’t allow pictures as big as I could put on Ebay, for those of you who remember those days. To remedy this I will put more pictures up here, but even so, nothing can prepare you for the glory of stones and hand-blown Venetian glass, unless of course you’ve seen stones and beautiful glass before. Think of the weight of stones in your hand (and not in the vulgar sense of the word), of the glow of glass in sunlight, of the ancient, patient history of rock.
Yes, mining and bead-making does involve fossil fuel. And the vulgar sense of the word “stones” may be more exciting to you, or even to me. I didn’t produce these pieces of jewelry out of my bodily essences and even if I had, they would still remain dependent on fossil fuel. So, never mind, ignore my labor. We’ll celebrate a “buy nothing” Christmas, and then all go live in caves.
Which reminds me, William Burroughs was buried with his gun. Hipster male writer, shot his wife dead in Mexico while playing a William Tell game, didn’t want us to forget that salient fact. You don’t want to be that kind of person, do you? Wouldn’t you prefer a tomb heaped with jasper and agate, fire-seasoned glass and pearls? I know—death doesn’t sell. But I’m not sure my necklaces will help you get anyone in bed; they might, but I make no promises. Besides, you don’t want to get in bed with your mother or sister, do you?
If you’re determined to buy those Twinkies for sale on Ebay, go ahead. If you think the lady on your list would prefer an ipad, remember that an ipad is useless when the power goes out (and it will go out). If the sweater is too small, she’ll feel fat and hate you. Theater tickets demand new earrings…I could go on and on, but we all have things to do.
If you’d prefer a used cat, get in touch. I have three.
The Way We Were Made
But you made every
delicate, elegant wrist
& glistening ankle.
But you made them
in braided rope
& dime store gold.
But you made every
But you made them
caress the nape
like an errant wind
after a shower.
But you made every
eyelash erotic. Every
single strand of hair
But you made them
from dust & bone.
Made every glorious
singing thigh. Every
But you made them
to the faintest hints
in a sea breeze, salt
in the sweaty mouth
of a navel, salt
in the blood, sweet
in every wrong way.
November 20, 2012 § 1 Comment
I read in the Sunday Times abut the new survivalists, reacting to climate change by hoarding food and water, batteries, seed, gardening and medical supplies, guns. That doesn’t work so well in the city. No place for the Jeep, the ax, the semi-automatic, the solar-powered washing machine or the 2000 cans of tuna, beans, condensed milk and pumpkin. I looked into a battery-powered generator—the kind you carry in your car trunk—but you can’t use them indoors. I do have a case of Perrier and a big bag of cat food in the other room.
Anyway, that’s only for the next hurricane. Long-term, I’ll probably bypass the craziness. (I’m hoping it is long-term or at least medium-term.) “Don’t waste the food on me, young’uns. I’ve climbed trees and mountains; skinny-dipped and water-skiied; published books; visited Paris, the Great Barrier Reef and the Greek isles. I saw the young Barishnykov and heard more great jazz musicians than I can name. I remember the Beatles, the moon landing, LSD, Watergate, my wedding, the Berlin wall coming down, Oval Office blowjobs, 9/11, a black president, menopause, gay marriage, Romney clobbered. I’ve been in love disastrously and woken up hungover in strangers’ beds. I bore no children but have 6 grandchildren. I’ve forgiven grave offenses and been forgiven in turn. I’ve taken a lot of naps.
“So now I’ll just sit here in my rocking chair, reading my favorite poets in the old editions. And afterward, I’ll host the insects and carrion birds, lose a tibia to a wild dog (once someone’s beloved pet), and what’s left of me will continue to occupy the rocker as the soft wood-pulp pages fall apart, and words decay between my bones.”
Wow, that sure is fancy writing. You kinda want to stick a giant dildo and a clown nose into that picture.
My friend Karen grumbled on Facebook about why couldn’t Marco Rubio, as a man of faith, feel safe standing firm about the age of the earth? I responded, “Who wants a god that old…” going on to imagine such a thing, God senescent, Heaven left rudderless, until I scared myself and I don’t even believe. It’s just that death is that place where all the poets have left their marks, and my friends and family are there, and I will be too, so how can I resist imagining it a thousand ways?
It’s a mirror, but not a clean or safe one. It’s tinted and scratched, dull and heavy, hung with moth-eaten feather boas and jet bead necklaces possibly coated in cobra venom.
There I go, decorating again. I really can’t help it. It’s the subject of death that does it (besides my affinity for the mandarin in literary style). Death has always had a carnival appeal, while remaining less scary than life. Life can be lost and death can’t. Death abides. This only makes sense to writers. Or maybe just to me.
Back to climate: the weather is charming right now, mild and sunny with a clothy texture, like the skin of an apricot. All those leaf bits getting into the air, all those fallen and axed branches. Sandy still lingers. (My dead brother once liked a girl named Sandy. She had sandy-colored hair and wore saddle shoes. She was 13.) Sandy is a warning, if you assume any force in the universe cares. Even in acute disrepair, the earth will be more beautiful than our eyes can take in. Nothing changes that.
Meanwhile, the pork roast in the oven—marinated in chenin blanc, almond oil and thyme—smells delicious: the onions and parsnips nestled around it are getting soft and pig-juicy. I recently read about a tick that can make you deathly allergic to pork and beef…enough. I’m going to have dinner, sharing with the cats, and then read my new books about climate, food, forests, persuasion, Patagonia, psychopaths.
weary to the bone,
dancing in the dark with the
the Suicide Kid gone
ah, the swift summers
over and gone
is that death
no, it’s only my cat,
November 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
We had to take the Mouchette to the vet today because we saw a spot of blood in the litter, and she was trying to pee with no results. I put her in the carrier easily but didn’t latch it properly, she got out, and then it took 10 minutes of chasing the slippery kitty around the bedroom, under the bed, behind the desk, under the bureau, over the bed, on the headboard, wailing, etc—Charles with a broom, me playing catcher—before I finally grabbed her twisting body and stuffed her in again. We took a cab because sick animals make me anxious. She kept up a low, terrified howl, and the cabbie complained about midtown streets blocked off until it finally got through to him that we weren’t interested.
The one vet open on Sunday—St. Marks—had had ten emergencies that day, as well as being fully booked, so we were there all afternoon. It was a comradely bunch of pet owners accompanying their animals: a bulldog named Cookie Monster who’d snagged bloody tampons from the trash and eaten them (we assured her lots of dogs did and he’d be fine); a dog who ate a certain kind of rat poison that works by making the rats unable to defecate, giving the dog plenty of time to get treatment (not so the rats); a bird who’d fallen and chipped his beak because he didn’t understand what “clipping your wings” means; a giant calico guinea pig; a young brown rabbit with an earache, and an older, enormous white rabbit.
Cookie Monster wiggled around the floor on his big butt; the rat poison dog strained against his harness, looking perfectly healthy; the bird and the rabbits were allowed to poke heads and shoulders from their carriers and greet the other detainees. It was a very small waiting room, maybe 5’ by 8’. I felt proud of us New York pet owners who’d kept a close eye on both ends of our animals. Not one person was rude, annoying or standoffish.
But my delicate Mouchette meowed almost all the time, looking up at me with big, round, pleading eyes. The stench of fear coming off her was overwhelming.
Hours later, when we got into the examining room, Dr. Haddock said she’d never felt a cat’s heart beat so fast. She expressed bloody urine from Mouchette’s bladder, shot the kitty up with antibiotics and fluids, told us Mouchette needed between $1100 and $1400 worth of dental work beyond the $800 bill for today’s emergency visit, shots, bloodwork, urine test, special food, etc, and we calmly accepted this because what are credit cards for?
We walked home from 1st Avenue, a little sad that it was now dark. Entering the apartment, expecting relief all around, we found Fitzroy furiously angry. When we opened the carrier, he hissed viciously at Mouchette, and then hissed at me. Banned from the bedroom, he started batting Lola around the way certain men treat their wives, although Lola bats back just fine. He was apparently deeply offended that he didn’t get to share Mouchette’s excursion to hell, though I briefly considered that he might have a brain tumor… The last time I took Mouchette to the vet, he was very solicitous when she returned. Living with two females has driven him around the bend. I’m so glad I didn’t have children.
My sister, who’s a veterinarian, has and would again tell me to find Lola a new home. I can’t. This is her 4th home (3rd owner). Charles loves her to the bottom of his soul and I love her too. I love her gray-black-brown silky fur, emerald green eyes, and the way she sleeps spread out on her side like a cat pancake. I love her spunk. I like watching her boxing matches with Fitzroy: he’s at least 50 % bigger but she holds her own.
Yet it kills me that it might be stress that made Mouchette ill; when the Dr. showed us the tube of bloody urine, I felt that faintness one feels when the fact of others’ mortality taps hard on the glass. That’s why the bill, though it may sit accruing interest for a long while, doesn’t upset me too much. Compared to Mouchette’s blood, how could it?
Moonlight Monologue for the New Kitten
The old kitten is replaced by a new baby kitten
the old dog by a new pup
like a dead Monday by Tuesday.
They stroke the new kitten in their laps
so that their excess affection won’t go sour,
so that it will love them in return, like the old one did.
But for me they aren’t replaceable,
not the kitten, not the Monday, not anything else;
for me they never die.
They only distance themselves, or dwell in me
disappearing into the distance: they dwell in my heart and ears,
like the Moonlight Sonata dwells in a piano.
Gone? No new rain rinses the shower-scent
of an old Monday from me,
no matter how hard it pours, hisses, streams.
Ridiculous, maybe, but it feels good to me,
like an old stone in the cemetery,
on which a bird might drop its feather.
Out there in the City Park and everywhere,
where forgetting fattens fresh ice,
how many, attentively oblivious, are skating!
I understand them, that on slippery ground
they alone possess life while living,
as long as is possible, and as best as is possible.
But for me easy grief’s loathsome,
and the easy solace of what’s easily replaced;
if I’m no more, they’ll replace me soon.
I know, if I’m no more, they’ll have someone else,
who’ll lie in their beds for me,
pant, talk, suffer, love.
But why shouldn’t it be this way? It might
need to be this way— why expect the unexpectable,
the too hard, the too much?… I understand.
And yet, for me, it’s irreplaceable
and what used to be dear doesn’t stop being dear.
And it is still too early to love the new kitten.
I don’t put it in my lap, because the old one’s
absence still burns there. I know
if I’m no more, there’ll be someone else.
by Péter Kántor
translated by Michael Blumenthal
November 17, 2012 § 2 Comments
Can a person go insane from an earache and a few mad cats? What about LUST? I wish I had mouths all up and down my arms, so I could go out bare-armed like Paula Broadwell and have everyone run away in terror. Zombie Apocalypse it’s not, but enough for a Friday night. Though I couldn’t be any scarier than that ruffled dress Paula wore on Jon Stewart that made her look like Big Bird’s bridesmaid in mourning.
A friend said that in this era anyone having an affair, especially at that level, can’t use email or cell phones. But there are lots of ways they could have passed messages on the Internet, not even employing the fancy encryption/tech stuff. No, I won’t tell you. I may be involved with a CIA agent someday. I’d be the one asking about undetectable assassination methods, not what happened in fucking Bengazi.
Four people died! That’s what happened. John McCain should be serving soup to the even-more-elderly in an area nursing home, the sort of volunteer who never leaves and the staff say, after while, “We’re not really sure if he’s a patient here…but as long as we tape his mouth shut every morning, he’s fine.”
No comment on the gifts gaffe. I have Romnesia. I have a crush on Susan Rice, as well as my continuing crush on Chris Matthews. My husband is in love with his guitar. He doesn’t hear me when I speak. I don’t hear him when I’m reading. He’s an A plus husband, but we need to get out more. Sometimes, we’re too bored to eat.
I have stories I need to commit to paper, or its facsimile. Yet I hesitate. Writing my memoir, in the 1990s, I cried for two straight years. I’ve already put in my tears for this decade. I’m tired of feeling like a woman after a back-alley face-lift. I want some of those millions wasted on the election. “Will you give if you win the lottery?” asked the woman from the LGBT organization after I explained all my charity monies had gone to Sandy victims lately. “Absolutely,” I said. “Even if I win the $ 5,000 Better Homes and Gardens sweepstakes.”
I have a sparkling resume, for a writer. If you’re desperate, they’ll smell it on you, Lisa said. But I’m far from desperate. I didn’t end anyone and hack her body up and hide the pieces. I may talk too much. I apologized to my husband recently for my shitty mood and bad manners. He laughed darkly. “If you could get to me, you’d have been dead a long time ago…”
Murder is the lowest expression of imagination, although joking about it isn’t. Trolling for sweepstakes is the next lowest. The epistolary erotic novel is enjoying a renaissance. I want to laugh while I write.
Lola still attacks like a kamikaze fighter. Mouchette vanishes under the bed at the slightest excuse. Charles keeps me locked in the bedroom all day and night so Mouchette won’t be lonely, while he stays in the living room with Lola. Fitzroy goes back and forth as he pleases. He tests the water level in his bowl with his paw before drinking, contaminating it for everyone. The kitty litter is so close to my bed now, I can hear them peeing. It’s oddly intimate, like the sister who leaves the bathroom door open.
My new favorite poet
You have forgotten it all.
You have forgotten your name,
where you lived, who you
I am simply
your nurse, terse and unlovely
I point to things
and remind you what they are:
chair, book, daughter, soup.
And when we are alone
I tell you what lies
in each direction: This way
is death, and this way, after
a longer walk, is death,
and that way is death but you
won’t see it
until it is right
in front of you.
your niece had been to visit you
and I said something about
how you must love her
or she must love you
or something useless like that,
you gripped my forearm
in your terrible swift hand
and said, she is
me a shake—everything
And then you fell
back into the well. Deep
in the well of everything. And I
stand at the edge and call:
chair, book, daughter, soup.
–Rita Mae Reese