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We were making sushi. I was fanning the rice with an old copy of the New Yorker. I said, “I’m not doing it right.” I was always saying things like that. I said, “Do it this way.” I was stirring the rice with a paddle, and cutting cucumbers into strips I could see thorough. I was making wasabi to the consistency of a baby’s earlobe. I told me that. I was using crab instead of fake crab made from Cod or Haddock. I only like real crabmeat. I taught me that. I was making my body a smaller and smaller version of myself. I told me that I was not too good for I. I was just normal like the rest of everyone else. I was not going on to better things. I should be happy just standing there in the kitchen making sushi with I. I tried to live in the moment. Like the time I hit me in the eye with a snowball. It could happen to anyone, I said. Sometimes an orange is the most delicious thing, an occasion to be celebrated, like the sunrise or the first cup of coffee. It was time to put a towel over everything. To absorb the steam. C’mon, I said, let’s just sit here. There was never enough space for I and me.

                                                                                                                        Set aside.

                                                                                                                        Allow to cool. 

you, I want

you

ruinous god

you, I want

to suffer

you burn me

you

blossom

desire

you

honey voice

with violets in your lap

you

bitter

but everything

sweeter

than that

I will pour wine over

you

could release me

you

silvery

you

I want

you

burn me

you

know this

you

ruin me

(Fragments of Sappho from Anne Carson’s translation If Not, Winter)

 

 

The novel I’m not writing can’t be written. The novel I’m not writing can’t be written because it involves certain events in the future I am not yet privy to. The novel I’m not writing necessitates precarious jumps through time, involving flashbacks and use of the subjunctive. The novel I’m not writing takes place in the past, and in the present, in such a way as to seem contemporary and timeless. The novel I’m not writing requires the use of words that have not yet been coined, technology that has not yet been invented, people who have not yet been given life. The novel I’m not writing requires readers to imagine within the confines of their minds an entirely different landscape than the ones they are accustomed to. The novel I’m not writing presupposes the ability to conceive of multi-dimensional morality that is simultaneously visual and tactile. I don’t want to brag, but the novel I’m not writing is epic in scope. It might be the Great American Non-Novel. The novel I’m not writing does not involve whales or rivers or New York City in any way. The novel does not depict gastronomical orgies or erotic love. It does not engage in satirical word play or philosophical musings on the nature of Man. The novel I’m not writing, if you could read it, would blow your mind. The novel I’m not writing exists in an ephemeral dream space where all non-existent artwork dwells. The invisibility of the novel I’m not writing is infinite in the same way that a black hole is infinite: the idea of it negates itself. 

Remember when we listened to No Need to Argue?

You closed your eyes and hummed along. You

took me to that bar and held my hand. Now

I can’t be with you I can’t even listen–how

could I hear her voice and not think of your hair

twisted in my fingers, smell of cloves, I didn’t care

that you hung up on me, the way you threw me out

of your apartment. I can’t control these ridiculous thoughts

can only regret everything you said, everything I said,

everything we ever did or believed, the steak, the red

wine, spilled on the floor, like blood, like knowledge

of the past, what I understood as we neared the edge

of what we could become. You stood, naked, between

him and me. I didn’t know then what it would mean. 

Are you hot, like noon on the Fourth of July?

Yes, but less harsh, and you don’t make me sweat as much.

A lot of times it gets really breezy in May,

And even though summer is hot, we want it to last longer?

Other times, summer is just way too hot, like

When the sun shine directly on us and we get sunburned?

And even though others are hot now, they might not be so hot

later, because of age, or wrinkles, or maybe some kind of accident?

But your hotness is not going to get milder, 

The way really hot salsa does after you drink a beer.

And you are not going to die like an exploded star

Not when I’m trying so hard to use words to describe your heat

               Because as long as we have oxygen and people can read

               There will be this poem and you and your hotness in it.

 

 

    

 

The Year You Turn 26

My friend says every woman goes crazy

the year she turns 26. Oh yeah? I go,

what about me? Let me back up and say first

that this is when she and I and another woman

who is also a non-smoker and not yet 26

are hanging out on my front porch with a big pink

ashtray and we are smoking and drinking Pete’s Wicked Ale

straight from the bottle. These are my beers

and this is my apartment, my first living-alone apartment

and I am living alone with a vengeance.  The building is green,

not that it matters, with a long porch that stretches across the whole

building, about four apartments’ worth. Van, the owner, tells me

it used to be a brothel.

But enough about that, we are drinking and smoking for all we’re worth,

which is quite a lot, because we are smart, tough broads who can smoke

and drink with the best of them. I am doing my best to burn the last

few years out of me. I am done with men who convince me to buy cheap

beer and live on pinto beans and rice. Fuck that shit. This here is lady living,

which means expensive micro-brews, Drum tobacco, pink fucking ashtrays,

and we can smoke whenever we damn want. Then, after we have smoked and drank,

we will drag our asses down to the 3-B where we will trash talk any man who dares

approach. This was most likely the same year my friend (see line 1) saw me throw

a man across the dance floor. He was in my space. One man swore I would be desperate

enough to fuck him; another asked me for my number. I disregarded

them both. But back to my point, some women go crazy when they turn 26.

Me? I bought an expensive dress and then got people to buy me

dinner and some pumpkin fucking flan.

And they call that crazy. 

Lamentation of the broken things

The mirror to my medicine chest.
Handle to my first leather bag, and
a succession of blue ceramic bowls.
Countless, numberless glasses,

both the kind I filled with water
by my bedside and the ones I need
to read a single word. My vision.
My feet. I can still feel bones 

migrating at their outer boundaries.
The light inside the refrigerator.
Speaking of that, the icemaker
and the latch that opens the trunk 

on my son’s car. Hearts I hold dear,
and yes, an infinity of promises.
I know, I remember every egg
I had to break to make an omelet.

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