Frustrated with the employee recommendations in a local bookstore, I looked for unfamiliar names that weren't faced out. I picked up Cedar Sigo's Language Arts. I enjoyed the way he wrote about himself and his life as a Queer Indigenous American man without making it feel like Other. I'm appreciative of all the poets and writers who have championed Othership, and it's important but, at my most optimistic, I'd like to think all our lives contain moments that shouldn't be othered. Moments where our identities strongly exist but aren't the focal point of the narrative.
See how my queer thoughts, in this instance are strikingly similar to your non-queer thoughts? See how I am not white but I have struggles that even the most clueless dead white dude from the nineteenth century had? These are the things I'm enjoying right now. Cedar Sigo does this really well.
For the month of December's interactions, I'm going to try to not write about the specific parts of my life that I feel I keep coming back to. Writing them feels too easy, and, perhaps, for the moment, I've exhausted all I can from certain relationships.
While I'm hoping not to get meta about it, I thought I'd start with a poem declaring the things I'm forbidding myself to write about for a while.
Before we can move on Let us give what is owed to the conversations we are tired of having but which have brought us to where we are today The things we should not explain on any more pages or microphones that might intersect with friends and loved ones who know already christ
Here is the drawer of tangled charging cables to phones that should never be plugged in again
Ryan who has now been dead almost as long as he was alive All dead boyfriends All unfaithful boyfriends All objects of desire who we have written more words about than we have spoken words to No more lovers as planets No more religious imagery for men who worshipped themselves enough to not need any more followers No more staring wistfully into the age gap No more color commentating the slow parade of men whose objectification makes us feel better about current loneliness
No more talking about loneliness to a room full of people No more lines that attempt to impress audiences with how we columbused loneliness No more loneliness in a room full of people
No more speaking for a tribe no one has been elected leader of No more explaining how to live life as if we have any idea what we're doing
We need to turn our heads away from where we came from Not our backs No more using our past to explain our ignorant present No more building gingerbread houses of self-awareness to ensnare gluttonous audiences
No more no more
Rest the i that glides over speedbump and writes experienced mountain climber on its resume Rest the narrator as victim Rest the raspy confessions The way we paint ourselves as monsters we've claimed to have slain Rest the sword in our own backs They are the weapons of illusionists
Let us now consider the future as if it will actually happen to us As if the past happened so long ago there is nothing new to learn from it As though our history was intrinsic Not forgotten Not ignored But common knowledge Let us not assume it is common knowledge let us make it common knowledge before we move forward
Let us move forward like a tide being drawn to a welcoming moon
Kevin Young is only the Steven King of poetry in his level of output and thickness of books. There are two sections in his collection Dear Darkness that are made up entirely of odes to food.
While every section of his book is excellent, and I want to come back and do another interaction or two with it, I also really enjoyed writing about food as opposed to love or family.
I'm also planning on posting a remix of this poem, in the vain of Kevin Young's To Repel Ghosts, which I read before I knew who Kevin Young was.
Ode To The Alligator In Pirate Soup
Living in Florida didn't teach me anything
about The South. Except that
every job interview asked my religion before
my qualifications. And if you put on a play
making fun of the KKK, a dozen white men will
walk out. But there are racists in The North, too.
Missing home, I found a seafood restaurant with
New England Clam Chowder on the menu. What
came out was red and thinner than the chef's
excuse Of course it's New England Clam Chowder.
Let me show you the can it came out of.
Refusing the obviously Manhattan
Chowder, I ordered something
forgettable with alligator.
Did not remember the dish for years.
I am sorry I forgot you alligator.
Sorry our next encounter was a joke
about the food cycle as Simon, Maybe, and I
got drunk and fed hot dogs to the baby
alligators in the caged moat of a mini-golf course
before crossing the street to eat gator nuggets.
Disrespectfully fried reptiles
kept frozen in the back and on the menu
until tourist season.
I am sorry our second meeting was so cheap.
That I forgot you every time I left that
I was in a panic when I saw you
in the exotic meats aisle of the fancy
food retailer. I was surprise cooking
a thirteen course meal with
mostly improvised recipes
based on the titles of Dr. Who episodes.
Silurians! I thought. They are reptilian.
Alligators are reptilian. And I pulled
stack after stack of you from the refrigerator.
Bagged you with lamb and beef and sausage and
all the common beasts. I bought too much of
you. Split you into recipes
you shouldn't belong in. But
you were the perfect accent in a stew.
Held your own in a flavor battle against
chicken in the battle of bay leaves.
I couldn't stop inventing
reasons for you to appear in my kitchen.
It was Dean who suggested I open up
a roadside alligator restaurant.
How you sriracha
bleeding off my menu.
How you pepper toothed in stew.
How you oyster sauced and brown sugared.
How you sweet.
How you spice. All these roles
usually cast for beef and chicken
you could fill.
I can open a roadside diner
like I can open waterpark in Manitoba.
I can. I just don't know how.
But I've started stupider ventures.
None of them starring as
dependable partners as you.
I forgot how much I enjoy remixing poems. Here's the restructured ode from my Kevin Young interaction. This may inspire more remixes later.
Ode To The Alligator In Pirate Soup (Remixed For Stew)
You reptile walking out out of forgettable
Winner of the battle of bay leaves
Brown sugar toothed
Sriracha bleeding off your dependable
I feed you hotdogs and
open The South in your Florida
(that flaccid peninsula)
Pull you out of freezers
stacked with common beasts
You are the missing in my job interview
a roadside attraction
a religion for tourist season
You panic bagged in perfect accent
peppered waterpark of qualifications
You are thirteen courses of refusing
Crossing the street to exotic
Fancy surprising in a caged moat of oyster sauce
Never frozen disrespectfully or fried joke
I'm sorry I forgot you
bagged you in recipes with lamb and sausages
I couldn't stop inventing stupider reasons to
split you from my kitchen
Jeff Taylor finished his interaction with Daphne Gottlieb's Fifteen Ways To Stay Alive waaaaay before deadline.
Interaction With Daphne Gottlieb's 15 Ways To Stay Alive
Instead of asking the Amazon driver if he wants to smoke a bowl I immediately tear open the package and flip through Daphne Gottlieb's 15 Ways To Stay Alive and open it to her poem titled "there are no poems after Auschwitz"
I open a google window and look up both quote and sayer.
With a panel of faces staring at me
like I've wasted their time
it dawns on me.
Ardorno is Mr Hand
and he is taking Jeff's pizza to give to the people who believe him
when he says there are no more poems to be had at this time.
This is his time and
there are no more poems on Mr Hand's time.
If I'm here
and you're here
isn't it really
Our time to be the sayer of quotes.
Our time to show up unannounced
to not be able to wash
the blood from our pigs until they're hatched.
But maybe I'm as much they as I am our. Maybe my Wikipedia only has one meaning.
How much of himself does Mr. Hand see in Spicoli?
How much Spicoli is seen in Mr. Hand.
I've ordered my usual
ginger-ale in time to hear
feel bad enough that I'm picturing them happen as cartoons
instead of real life.
I'm looking at the pitcher of water on the bar next to the plastic cups.
I hear myself laughing
about using my privilege as a shield.
I'm using my privilege as a shield
but it's a cartoon
instead of real life.
there are no poets after white privilege.
just a bunch of boring words
written in nail bitten
skin scratched PTSD.
The only poets left
have fallen for junkies or
are hiding in their past lives.
That wound knew love.
there will always be poets
because poets know 2 things:
1. How to love a wound.
2. How to not die.
Justin Strock had trouble finding a copy of The Panther & The Lash, which was the opposite of my problem. I accidentally bought the book twice but failed to science a copy into his hands. He persevered, though, and wrote an interaction about Not reading the book. Truly, he went above and beyond the expectations for this project.
How is it that your pantheon is not sold at The Strand, nor able to be retrieved
(except in eBook format) - blech
at the Central Brooklyn Public Library?
it's ceilings vaulted, it's escalators slow, it's cafe and business
Hassids, West Indians, Hipsterati, the bored, and elderly and
it's stacks sagging, not from the weight of books, but from
their rapid obsolescence...
What hath become of this once venerable seething city?
Where may we still snap our applause unironically?
Is this Nunu York now?
This post was written by Valerie Loveland about her relationship with Sharon Olds's The Gold Cell.
Visiting my Friend from College
Gold Cell I still don’t know what your title or your cover means.
Gold Cell you are the first poetry book a friend loaned me and he regretted it.
Gold Cell, I am sorry I roughed you up!
Gold Cell, how is it possible that you weren’t published the day I was born?
Gold Cell, I could only start sentences with Gold and could only end them with Cell.
Gold Cell, why didn’t you tell me that men will pretend to like poetry to trick me into believing we could have a poetry life together?
Gold Cell I went with them to an arcade and read you instead of playing video games.
Gold Cell, I only wanted to talk about poetry my entire talking life.
Gold Cell, I used you as a poetry diplomat.
Gold Cell, you are thicker than I remember!
Gold Cell you are a time machine a nostalgia machine a regret machine a poetry machine an embarrassment machine.
Gold Cell, remember my uptight friend who accidentally chose the poem that sexualizes the states to read out loud in class?
Gold Cell you name drop my favorite style of dresses to allow me see you even more clearly.
Gold Cell, my friend recently told me she didn’t understand why people like you. I had to defend you and didn’t know how.
Gold Cell you hide from me on my bookcase with your red cover because I was looking for a gold book.
Gold Cell you were such a companion I started calling you Goldie.
Goldie you are back in my backpack and I am 19 again and we are both boy crazy.
Goldie, I wrote you are back in my backpack but I keep writing “where you belong” and then keep erasing “where you belong.”
An ongoing conversation between writers and the text that they're reading.