Monday, April 29, 2013


Oh we were the featured blog yesterday at the official headquarters of NaPoWriMo. Thanks, Maureen!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

5 of Wands

A lot of shuffling
but just one card

It’s a jam sesh
or a jubilee
or a war

They might be
bayonets or long
rain sticks

It’s gonna be a
struggle no way



Nobody likes
to see their
own pain

played out on
the flat surface
of myth

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Style Power

reading how you only become a body
when the tools of the law begin
to exert themselves over the flesh
that then becomes your body

Cat Power singing
at the same time
never give away
never give away your body

and build your style of being
out of thrifted jean jackets and
duct tape arrows pointing up
busk and bask in the underbelly

clothes might still foil
the strongarm of the law

Monday, April 22, 2013


I float high above
the used car dealership
a giant helium balloon
animal on a rope
batted and blown

I can see for blocks and blocks

But I can't see you

Sunday, April 21, 2013

[I blew up a bed]

I blew up a bed
next to the TV
and slept

the afternoon away
not a bomb
an air mattress

I blew up a bed next to the TV
and listened for explosives
I was far from The Danger

I was an official telewitness
On TV no one had slept
no one was an American anymore

what rights did they have
the threat was out there
the threat was in here

the threat was
thumping inside
my chest

stay home vs. shelter in place
show of force vs. tender classmates
thermal camera vs. death wish

the ways these things go
the bloody botch
the half life of the tweet

he was the bomb
the bomber

I won't divide up the world
into those who want to find the links
and those who want to sever them

because you see how I'd be guilty
but you get my point
we have words

and touch
and what look like
different bodies

no one is knowable
but we've got skin
that scrapes and bleeds

we have no
most of us

it's a miracle
we stay separate
and unscathed

we made all these
with sharp edges

shake a hand
say thank you
say happy birthday

it's a miracle these
Saturdays of honey-
light parties

and no one bloody
on the floor


not like walking
on a tightrope
but like walking

to the mailbox

I was far
The Danger

I rarely feel safe
or I almost always

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

still shopping for images

inside the pharmacy
inside the mall
a girl, my student (?)
paused beside
a hanging plant
in a greenhouse room
but dark
like an aquarium
and reached up
to touch a leaf

   "my grandfather told me this was here
          when he used to come here"

but of course that's wrong
only new dead things
populate the drugstore
and they're supposed to
get out of there

the next thing
the costume scholar said--

   "nostalgia as a product
     in global modernity"

there's a place for it
on the shelf (?)

plants might outlive
your grandfather
of course

so might

maybe the dream
wished to insist
things take root
and keep growing

what we miss
and how we keep
finding ways
to buy it back

deep inside the
deep inside

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wrong Tone

I wrote a faux-manifesto
poem this morning.

It was pretty clever.

I changed my profile pic
and my cover photo

just before I heard the news.

Somebody probably thought
how gauche.

I didn't know.

People continued to complain
about the new timeline

as the news shuffled in.

How petty
are your grievances?

Mine too.

I "heard" the news
through a shared photo

in my feed.

I clicked through and through
until I knew

or thought I knew.

Every network's put
the word TERROR

in jagged font.

It could have been anywhere.
It is everywhere,

many are quick to admonish.

It's hard to strike the right
tone. I prefer writing

with light.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mister Lonely

   “You can live forever
     and you can live forever—”

You can say goodbye
to your room
item by item
then put on your hat
and say adiós

     “Sisters, are you ready?”

sound of habits
in a free fall
whipping and torn

a soft landing
in the gully
where they pulled
the ship over
the mountain

Was it the movie
   or the making of—

A life so other
you crave it
wanna lick it down

     “Dear World,
      Dear World and everyone in it,
      from the moment I was born
      I remember feeling different…”

Honest Abe makes a promise
to kill the sheep

          “sheep or shit”

“my life don’t count for nothin’—”

    “to the dreams who make us who we are—”

             “there’s no truer souls
               than those who impersonate”

     “The Greatest Show on Earth!”

Dead Marilyn tells living Michael
to follow his destiny

This was 2007

   “That’s show business, folks”

   “The wonder of it—”

     a love song to the movies
              or vaudeville

in the end
a boyish haircut
a red polo
alone in the middle
of the crowd

and the plane crashes
of course

“we can make it seem better
                for a while”

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How a Resurrection Really Feels1
(a song for girls in their 20s)2

Tundra to the north and west
freshwater sea to the east
the big/second city below

And of all the bad seeds
who never found a way
out of town
the one we loved the best
had been stranded at that party
for years

The Upper Midwest
dulls the nerves
with the dull hums of devotion
glacier-scooped and wooded
and too knowable
for a big fish
with a systems-analysis
kind of mind

The free drinks
keep you
at the corner bar
the easy hookups
keep you in town

The Upper Midwest
in the stale blood of Catholics
which smells like
the stale beer
of all the college bars you went to
in high school
’cause your friend worked there
and gave you the IDs
people left behind

How many girls were Jill Van Groll?
I was, and Jenny, and Emily, and whoever
was blonde mutt enough
to pass

There is nothing to do but drink
but there are lots of kinds of drinking

there is nothing to do but drugs
but there are plenty of drugs

And of all those guys
those guys with the baggy jeans
and black t-shirts
with the wallet chains
and buzz cuts
of all those guys I couldn’t tell you
for sure
who’s dead and who’s alive

walk on back
walk on back

Dragged to Sunday Mass
I took the chalice from my mother
Eucharistic Minister
grinned and winked as I sipped
before heading back to the pew

       “Becca has a taste for wine”

There is nothing to do but sip
but some drinks are classier
than others
some drinks are Catholicker
than others

he’s been disappeared for years

And when they let him out of prison
this Christmas
and he drove around town
in John’s old truck
we missed them all so bad
all those boys

and his grin was the grin of a kid
or of ass-flat defeat
or of someone who’d felt
the divine softening of blows

We weren’t allowed
to sit and smoke in bars once

And we’re not allowed
to sit and smoke in bars now

But there was a time
            we sat in bar after bar
using one cigarette to light the next

And those were our twenties

The friends he met in the bathroom
the bullet that grazed him
the lakeview condo he rented
in the complex
where all the ballers lived
the topless bar that paid
her tuition
the suitcases full of packages

Hustlers in the land
of no opportunity

If you can’t make it here
you could take it as a sign
it’s time to get out

walk on back
walk on back

there is no such thing
as the third coast

After all
the lake freezes over
they swing the incensers over the ice
there’s a lot to confess
because there are so few ways
to be good

so we got ourselves all gone again

a bar and a steeple
on every corner

the bells ring out

and the changeover
takes no time at all

Saturday, April 13, 2013


                woke up

      kept getting offered

  free tickets

           dialed up the headquarters

                     for Morning

      asked if this was some kinda


             No, they said

        with the chipper ease

                      of morning people

this is your payout

          we hope you enjoy

                       the shows

Friday, April 12, 2013

Speed & Names

I've never heard anyone so psyched
for an express train
but this guy across from me
is hooting and cheering
and when I glance over
he says sorry
and explains
"Usually I've gotta go
through all these stops, you know,
Menlo Park, Metuchen...."
and he means Metropark
but I just say
"No, I know. I do know"
and begin to feel
the excitement, too
as if we live in a country
advanced enough for bullet trains
or as if perhaps
all these little white frame houses
are being projected
on the walls of the Chunnel.
I can barely read the signs,
we are whizzing by so expressly.
Elizabeth already?
I'm impressed.
I'm thinking of the time at lunch
in Chicago with David
who used to teach at Rutgers
and who used to teach me
and taught me
how to use a proper name
in a poem.
I was telling him about
my daily life and mentioned
the commute
and when I said "Rahway"
and "Linden"
he shuddered and begged me
to stop--
he never wanted to hear those names
ever again.

The stops they return
with horrifying regularity

They never change

But some times
3:34 of a Thursday

They disappear

Jared White & Farrah Field tour the South in April!

Jared White & Farrah Field are touring the South this month, with stops in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

If you can't make it out to see them, we've got Jared's chapbook This Is What It Is Like to Be Loved by Me in the store here, and Farrah's book is available from our friends at Four Way Books here.

Tuesday, April 16 in Hattiesburg MS 

University of Southern Mississippi
Center for Writers Visiting Writers Series
Woods Theatre
Theater & Dance Building
North Third Avenue (at Montague)
5:30 PM

Thursday, April 18 in Baton Rouge LA 

Underpass Reading Series
by the LSU MFA Program
Chelsea's Cafe
2857 Perkins Road

4/19 in New Orleans LA 

The Diane Tapes Reading Series 
3141 Ponce de Leon
6:00 PM

Thursday, April 25 in Conway AR 

2035 Prince St (at Donaghey Avenue)
7:00 PM

Friday & Saturday, April 26-27 in Fayetteville AR 

Ozark Small Press Poetry Festival
205 West Dickson Street
7:00 PM, both nights

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Poem [Kate Durbin has collapsed!]

Kate Durbin has collapsed!
I was trudging along and suddenly
the sky went grey then black
and you saw some lightning
but lightning hits you on the head
less than once in a lifetime
so I kept lurching to the laundro
and the rain came and false spring
fled with the thunderclaps
and suddenly I see a status
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in Pasadena
I have been to lots of real-virtual
birthday parties and been only half there
but none more famous than hers
oh Kate Durbin we love you get up

I is an island

Five women who used to be girls together land on a small island and drink rum punch in the sun. No one remembers or knows she remembers until they begin talking, except the one who has brought them there, the one who lives on the island, the one who knows and remembers everything. They climb to the heights and walk with the monkeys and swim with the turtles and buy bracelets and bags on the side of the road. They drive until they get lost in the pouring rain in the center of the island. None of the streets have names. The directions are to turn left, then when they see the cricket field, turn left again. In every direction they see the sea. They find their way back. They tell all the stories of all the times when they had been there and hear all the stories of all the times when they had not been there. It is now as if they had all been there every time. They do not remember some of the times when they had been there, according to the others, so it is all the same. They had been there. They were there now. “Memory is a sense of the other.” What would have become of them if they had not been told? One speaks; one becomes a subject. There was one keeper, the one who brought them there. The girls grew up in a cold northern place and the women’s memories are buried on an island near the Equator. They landed on the island. They drank rum punch as they made new memories.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Of all the girls
waiting in line,
Gloria was the
only one with
purple corduroy
hot pants, which
made her think
perhaps she did
really have a
chance. Plus she
wanted it more
than any of the
others. Their
hearts were not
splattered all
over the sidewalk
and their soul-
strings were not
dangling from
the velvet rope.
Of all the girls
in line Gloria
did not have the
best hair or the
most confidence
but she did have
that thing, she
had it, that way
of turning her
insides inside-
out and taking a
bow. The line
crept forward.
Gloria coaxed
out the destiny
that throbbed
in her spleen.

(prompt from Elizabeth Treadwell: write a poem called "Gloria")

Set list from 7 @ 7 @ 7 / Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

At the final day of the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair yesterday, a few people asked which poems, by which poets, in which books I read on Saturday 4/6 at Sweetness_7. Here they are, with links to the books.

I also read "Anomalies of the Female Reproductive System" from Jennifer L. Knox's The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway, but I don't have a copy of that on me right now. (It's packed.)


Becca Klaver
Nonstop Pop

I was like so . . . Geico

And you were like so . . . Activia

And together we were like so . . . GlaxoSmithKline

In an effort to be so . . . Ann Taylor Loft

We end up so . . . Crocs

And sometimes we’re all like so . . . Ambien

When we mean to be so . . . Lemon Pledge Aerosol Spray

Although we’re perfectly fine being Pilot G2 Retractable

We’d much prefer to be Crayola Classic Washable

Some days, we must accept, will just be Glad Press’n Seal Plastic Wrap days

I was Kotex Maxi Pads with Leak Lock Medium Flow with reluctance, but still
     I was Kotex Maxi Pads with Leak Lock Medium Flow

Even though you expected things to turn out so Comcast Triple Play

There’s a communal relief to being so Verizon Wireless Nationwide Unlimited

In the end I’d just like people to remember me as being as iRobot Roomba 570
     as possible


Fabulous Fake
Shanna Compton

And that, friends, is when I knew

the ardor I’d claimed was a mere smattering.

I am newly engorged with boner-hard love.

I want to keep all the tastes discrete

so only a little goes on my tongue at a time.

Each nibble a rogue hair, a coarse language of flavor.

How proud we are of our facial configurations,

even if they’re entirely involuntary.

     Mind your quiver, you know?

Let this pockmarked and much-ruched narrative

diagram our decline, because here on the carpet

amid our ratty-assed display, in this tug of war

between the moment and selfhood, I suspect

one of us is prepared to throw the match.


Sometime I'll Perfect My Adoration

Shanna Compton

Here, let me practice:

For you I’ll lose every button

and give up one of my pillows.

You know the way we say

     it’s only money

     it’s only food

     it’s only Sunday at 4:00?

There’s still time.

And we’re still in the skinflint sheets

of a place we’d rather not be,

languid among no-account debris

trying halfway to understand

the guy from the sports bar

and his pharmacy scam in case

it would make a good movie.

I’ll pretend to miss the day we met

if you can try not so much to mind

the piercing when we go wrong,

foaming in the evening, toxic refraction,

to baffle this diminishing sun

into peach-rust-gold derivatives, innate

lame screensaver that (we can’t help ourselves)

gongs inside us anyway in bold-banged time

abashing         abashing         abashing


Making Out
Peter Davis

First, Tina, there is some kind of talk

or isolation or something that brings

us together. Then, in some

moment, we kiss. This kiss leads to

more kissing. It is good to start french

kissing here. I mean, moving our tongues

against the other’s and having

these wide, gaping mouths.

Sometimes, when we take a break

from kissing, you might even wipe

your mouth with your shirtsleeve.

If I am lucky and there is enough time

I will very slowly begin touching

your waist and very slowly start

working my hand under your shirt

and moving it up toward your shoulders.

When I reach your bra, I will feel

humbled and in awe so I will feel

your bra some. Then I will back my hand down

a little and come up again, this

time trying to wedge my fingers

between your bra and your skin. Tina,

we will be french kissing this whole time.

If I am lucky I will soon feel your

nipple. I will have to use the back

of my hand, wedged under the underwire,

to push up and give my fingers a few

small inches to move. Hopefully one of us

will unsnap your bra. Bras that unsnap

in front are easier to deal with.

For this reason, they are very sexy.

This will really be something.

After a bit, I will slowly slide my

hand down from your breasts and

begin to dig between the waist

of your pants and your skin. If it is

a tight squeeze, the best thing possible

would be for you to just unbutton

your pants and even lower your zipper.

Otherwise, I will unbutton your pants.

This is very exciting. I will move my

hand even lower until I reach

the top of your underwear. I will rub

all around the area above your underwear.

I will begin to rub your underwear.

Then I will try to get my fingers

between your skin and your underwear.

I will be successful or you will adjust

position or something else

will just happen, Tina.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Salon Notes

In Canada in the 70s
women's studies professors were falling ill
and getting murdered

             the power wrought by violence

Procter & Gamble
offers to help fund
a women's studies program

              the violence wrought by

      narratives of subjection
      from pure degradation
      to creation & becoming

an archive that shoots into the future
an archive that builds buildings

     "What are we to do
       with photographs such as these?"

a sort-of education
     at the Crystal Palace School
          in London

Thomas Stearns says sorry
for the wild goose chase, the tarot cards

      Jessie Weston lives tonight

"criticism engaged with the world"

where do we draw the line
on appropriation of voice?

       "print the legend"

       the history of losers

Friday, April 5, 2013

Answer to Hanna

Beauty like the scar on my arm. Apples, knives. The prom. Eaten up. A dozen roses in the stall. A faraway, fixed look in the eye. Poison darts. What you get when you get what you want. When you take it. No scene, no pulling the cord from the amp, no swizzling bass line or feedback buzz. Just the power to make wishes come true. To live a story so that you might tell it for the rest of your life. To find out years later that you’ve lost interest in stories. A story becomes a secret by omission. Who was she? I love her but I am not her.


Hanna is collecting answers (in one line; I cheated in the above) to these questions:

Where is beauty most visible?

How will you begin?

Please send her a line at hanna at switchbackbooks dot com!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Everything's Been Recruited"*

To learn which side you're on
in Our Moral Universe
you pick someone to follow
through the city streets
then see how far you'll go.
If you enter his foyer, oy
vey, then you are on our side.
If you go into her boudoir,
that far, you are on the side
of the enemy. If you board
the plane, you might find
yourself a red name on a
black list. If you feel only
a terror of the domestic
but not a terroir foreign,
we have a remedy for that,
but it can only be prescribed
if you were wed in a way
our instruments can detect
and if you have never suffered
from a similar terror before.
They administrate analogy but
we only want you to show us,
through accumulated choices
and the small acts you perform
each day, habitually,
which side you are on.
Till the earth. Kill the earth.
This land, that flavor.
Swallow scoops of wet dirt.
Which side are you on?

*Caryl Churchill, Far Away

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Midwestern Lament

If you don't act important
no one thinks
you're important.

Where I come from
there's a shrine
to Humility

to which we make offerings
of melted-down
"Most Team Spirit" trophies

of p's
and ingenue smiles

which people from this coast
deride as a form
of reticence.

Ask me a question besides
"How do you know each other?"
and you'll find out

who I am, asshole,
of a friend of a friend.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

male influence poem #2

the text I just sent
about eating the spaghetti
that you were probably saving
for midnight snack

forgive me so saucy so warm etc.
can't be my poem
not because I think
notes can't be poems

but because I have used that plea before
stale sorries           O Flossie
never write a poem when you're hungry
it's like shopping for images

in the cupboard
of the American vernacular
which like mine
contains messages for the lazy and foolish

like me
like natural peanut butter
that promises
'no need to stir'

—shut the cabinet door
'I too lived—
Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine'
and only the guys

of NY and NJ
so meta
so sweet and so cold
got my back

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring inventory

pot of yellow tulips barely open
no buds on trees
bottles empty bottles empty bottles
you when you came back around
fifteen hundred fewer dollars
new glasses new locket
casual shirts
jeans for the first time in years
Sylvia with no idea how long she is
Contessa ever vigilant
Bossypants trade paper
Hot Balls & Nuggle bar 
& Mount Gay rum, Bajan smuggles
coconut cream & pineapple juice
purchased in these united states 
right around the corner
question for research:
is it piña colada season yet 
or again?
Mr. Lonely on Netflix
Spring Breakers in theaters
James Franco feminist prankos
old digital camera for new project
it takes the best shitty video
some more questions for research
(British emphasis)
how is a walk like a poem?
gender? gentrification?
generative jaunts &
we're starting to hoard a lot of crap
well, some of it is cool guitars
that carpeted orange cube 
has got to go, tho
apologies to the cats
and the bugs
and the shadows--

Are you in Iowa City?

…because the Mission Creek Festival starts tomorrow.

Our own Jennifer L. Knox will be performing in this freakishly awesome lineup on Sunday, April 7! (She'll have copies of all three of her Bloof books with her, of course.)

Write Now Poetry Society Presents: The Drums Inside Your Chest Series

Sunday, April 7, 7:00 pm @ The Englert
$10 - $15 tickets here
Get Tickets
The Drums Inside Your Chest is a critically acclaimed, Broadway-quality poetry concert series that, staged in theatres across New York and Los Angeles since 2007, features the best performance poets in America today. For Mission Creek, co-founder Amber Tamblyn brings her “shoulder-shaking heart-charging poetry variety show experience” to Iowa City with a cast featuring some of the world’s most formidable performers, including Patricia SmithBeau SiaRachel McKibbensDerrick BrownMindy Nettifee, and Jennifer L. Knox. Collectively, they are University of Iowa graduates, Tony award winners, performers on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, Sundance Film Festival award winners, National Poetry Slam team mainstays, a former paratrooper for the 82nd airborne, Cave Canem faculty member, National Book Award finalist, President of Write Bloody Publishing, and a poetry teacher through the Healing Arts Program at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. Their work has been featured in the Paris ReviewGrantaTin HouseThe RumpusLos Angeles ReviewThe New YorkerMcSweeney’sBombFence, and American Poetry Review. They have published more than twenty books of poetry, collaborated with jazz and blues musicians, orchestras, and dance and theatre companies, and will take the stage with musician frequent Drums collaborator Emily Wells. Emily Wells is a performer, producer, singer and composer known for her varied use of classical and modern instrumentation as well as her deft approach to live sampling. Classically trained as a violinist, she also performs live singing and playing drums, keys, and beat machines. Her recent releases include “Mama”, “Pillowfight” her side project collaboration with Dan the Automator, and contributions to the motion picture soundtrack of Park Chan-Wook’s “Stoker.” Wells will release “Mama: Acoustic Recordings” in June.