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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Dear So and So [for Sandra Simonds]

 Why can't sheer / beauty kill this century / the way it kills me?
--Sandra Simonds, Further Problems with Pleasure

I am doing it, the thing you said could not be done,
writing this letter to you,
of all people, in defiance
of the anticapitalist hegemony,
which exists only in the mind
of my eighteen-year-old son.

Writing to you because I remember
the night we met, featured at that Famous Reading Series,
two mothers with children,
one single and one to be eventually,
each the author of one slim volume,
which you have done again many time,
and I, well, that's why I am here today, with my notebook and pen
in a secret location in Manhattan close to the arbiters
of All That Is Best in American Poetry, anticipating
the reading I wll go to later
that I will see my beloved teacher
and the others who were also her students
back before my life began,
when I was new to the city and in my thirties,
thinking I was starting a whole new life, that I had
already lived through really
I had not yet learned what it meant to live,
what everyone was talking about when they said,
"Life's a Bitch," "Life Sucks and then you die," when Sinatra sang "That's Life"
and someone was shaking in their shoes afraid of him.

Because you are younger and thinner and more beautiful
and I am just trying not to eat this entire giant oatmeal
chocolate chunk cookie-scone thing from an organic baker
in the Union Square Market, I will win this battle
but lose so many others, tonight I will not say no to vodka
and that night at the KGB Bar I had not yet learned to drink gin,
which I would get much later from the capitalist pig
(blond and tall and blue-eyed like every good Aryan)
who gave me a taste for Hendricks
from the leather bound martini set he kept
in the boot of his Beemer.

You, today, are my So and So, and it gives me the idea I should
write to other So and Sos, the women poets, yes, all the women...

Bloodlines aside we are sisters
for we have known the terrible nights
of the vomiting, diarrheaic child
the comfort and the endless endless cleaning,
the mama mama MAMA MOMMY MO MO MO
and the true love always
and the notes of goodbye,
the scent of paranoia in a ring.

I have been reading you
and here I am in very tricky territory


It's always a crapshoot when poetry
is bought and sold even for so
little money that poets have to be
publishers or professors or editors or bartenders
or non-profit managers or anything
that pays the bills better than poetry,
which is almost anything. Poetry is not at all
pulling its weight in the creative economy.

You, too, are a professor so at least
we do get longer vacations than if we
worked in Wal-Mart or even the Air Force base,
and oh I cannot picture you as a GS class
civilian in your emerald green dress with your emerald
green eyes and raven hair, like some civil service
Snow White in the Department of Defense.

So I will have a vodka or coffee or virtual glass of water
with you, read more of your poems and later
maybe tag you in the photo of your book on top
of my notebooks, the social
network of poetry sanitized for digital
feed, the characters blurring into gray
blobs of text as readers click
and drift away to check their phones.
I will still be here for you, reading
and writing and making America safe
for single moms and often desperate
and heroic So and Sos who after all make up
the electorate, the proletariat, and the pleasure principle
practitioners pow pow pow pop pop pop peep peep


bloof said...

A stunning April debut! Hi Amy. <3

Radish King said...

Oh yes this galloped all the way through.
Rebecca Loudon

Danielle said...

Oh ❤️