Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Panic Button Collector by Andrea Gibson

I check my Facebook page 36 times a day for the sole purpose of making sure I have not accidentally posted a nude photo of myself
I reread an email 13 times before pressing send to ensure I have not written something in the email that could convict me of a crime

Before taking a stage when asked if I allow flash photography I always want to say “No” because I’m terrified flash photography will give me epilepsy

I know it doesn’t work like that, still

I never eat nuts on an airplane out of fear of that I will suddenly develop a nut allergy and if I have to asphyxiate I don’t want it to happen at 30,000 feet

Twice in the last two years I’ve been aborted from an airplane for running screaming down the aisles as the plane was taking off

I can’t walk through San Francisco without worrying my indigestion is the beginning of an earthquake
I brace for tsunamis beside lakes in Colorado
I’m not joking
The last time I saw Niagara Falls I couldn’t take it
It was too much much
I had to plug my ears to look at it and close my eyes to listen

Generally I can’t do all my senses at the same time they are too much much

Like if you touch me without warning, whoever you are, it will take everything I have to not hate you

Imagine your hands are electrical sockets and I am constantly aware that I am 70% water
it’s not that I’ve not tried to build a dam

Ask my therapist who pays her mortgage
My cost of living went up
at five years old when I told my mother I have to stop going to birthday parties because every time I hear a balloon pop I feel like I’m gonna get murdered in the heart

Last year a balloon popped on the stage where I was performing, I started crying in front of the whole crowd
plugged my ears and kept repeating the word “LOUD LOUD LOUD LOUD” it was super sexy

That’s what I do
I do super sexy

Like when I asked the super cute barista 11 times ‘are you sure this is decaffeinated? Are you sure this is decaffeinated? Are you sure that’- yes I drink decaffeinated and still jitter like a bug running from the bright bright bright

I have spent years of my life wearing a tight rubber band hidden beneath my hair so my brain could have a hug

These days when no one’s looking I wear a fuzzy fitted winter hat that buttons tight beneath the chin

I only ever wear a tie so that when I convince myself I’m choking my senses have something they are certain they can blame

As a kid I was so certain I would die the way of meteor falling on my head
I would go whole weeks without looking at the sky ‘cause I didn’t want to witness the coming of my own death

I started tapping the kitchen sink seven times to build a shield

My mother started making lists of everything I thought would kill me in hopes that if I saw my fears they would disappear
Bless her heart but the first time I saw that list I started filling a salad bowl with bleach and soaking my shoe laces overnight so in the morning when I ironed them they would be so bright I would be certain I had control over
how much dark could break into my light
how much jack hammer could break into my heart
My spine it has always been a lasso that could never catch my breath

I honestly can’t imagine how it would feel to walk into a room full of people and not feel the roof collapsing on my ‘NO NO NO I am not fine’

Fine is the suckiest word
it never tells the truth

And more than anything I have ever been afraid of I am terrified of lies
How they war the world
How they sound by our tongues
How they bone dry the marrow

How did we get through high school without being taught Dr. King spent two decades having panic attacks?
Avoided Windows
Jumped at thunder

I think we are all part flight the fight
part run for your life
Part ‘please please please like me’
Part Can’t breathe
Part scared to say you’re scared
Part say it anyway

You panic button collector
You clock of beautiful ticks
You run out the door if you need to
You flock to the front row of your own class
You feather everything until you know you can always, always shake like a leaf on my family tree and know you belong here

You belong here and everything you feel is okay
Everything you feel is okay

Friday, May 31, 2013

Love Letter (Clouds) by Sarah Manguso

I didn't fall in love. I fell through it.

Came out the other side moment's later, hands full of matter,
     waking up from the dream of a bullet tearing through the
     middle of my body.

I no longer understand anything longer than a long moment,
     or the time it takes to receive the shot.

This kind of gravity is like falling through a cloud, forgetting
     it all, and then being told about it later. On the day you fell
     through a cloud...

It must be true. If it were not, then when did these strands of
     silver netting attach to my hair?

The problem was finding that you were real and not just a dream
     of clouds.

If you weren't real, I would address this letter to one of two
     entities: myself, or everyone else. The effect would be
     equivalent.

The act of falling happens in time. That is, it takes long enough
     for the falling to shear away from the moments before and
     the moments after, long enough for one to have thought I am
     falling. I have been falling. I continue to fall.

Falling through a ring, in this case, would not mean falling through
    the center of the annulus - a planet floats there. Falling through
    the ring means falling through the spaces between the objects
    that together make the ring.

On the way through, clasp your fists around the universe:

Nothing but ice-gravel.

But open your hands when you reach the other side. Quickly,
     before it melts.

What did I leave you?

Prayer by Sarah Manguso

Her lover returns, and she hails their love as finally unassailable
      as life in death.

This is the place religion occupies in her life. Its reach goes no further.

I have prayed the orange ladybug that has lain between the window
     sashes all winter is only sleeping.

God, you have never forsaken me.

Prayer - for a long time music was the closest thing to it.

Sometimes one need only seat oneself a few feet deeper into a room.

The blue of my typewriter is profound, its density foreign even
     to the sky.

Writing is work with such a machine. Is prayer.

Music was the closest thing to it.

I try to explain to a friend who lives by reason that she does not
     live by faith and therefore not a believer.

Pretending to mean something.
Pretending to believe something.
Pretending to believe in something.

These people profess to love a song but cannot even approximate
     the tune.

They must not love the songs they say they love.

Yet what they remember is what the girl sings on the bright stage.

Est, Est, Est by Sarah Manguso

The discovery of Italy's best wine,
and not alcohol poisoning, is what killed the prelate.

You've got to hide your love away,
not because showing it is useless,

but because it isn't.
Don't let me get what I want.

I love you as dead people love - in every way imaginable.
Don't let me bring the cat inside.

If you leave your wife with her beautiful name,
don't tell me.

See this deer track?
Just walk away.

When he had any, Dostoyevsky threw away his money.
I won't let you in my house.

Asking For More by Sarah Manguso

I am not asking to suffer less.
I hope to be nearly crucified.
To live because I don't want to.

That hope, that sweet agent -
Mt best work is its work.
The horse I ride into Hell is my best horse
And bears its name.
So, friends, drink your cocktails and wear your hats.
Thank you for leaving me this whole world to go mad in.

I am not asking for mercy. I am asking for more.
I don't mind when no mercy comes
Or when it comes in the form of my mad self
Running at me. I am not asking for mercy.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

This Is the Part of the Story I'd Rather Not Tell by Emily Kagan Trenchard


How at 13 I would lay awake at night deciding
which friend or family member would have to die
so that I might be aggrieved enough to be interesting,
so that I would have the permission to become more
withdrawn and mysterious and thus, more attractive.
I’d lay awake at night, plotting who it should be, how
it should go for the maximum impact. It would have
to be something epic so that I could become a rag doll
in his arms, bury my sweet face in the meaty expanse
of his 13-year-old chest and breathe deep the scent of his
Old Spice for my consolation. My malaise would surely
cause me to lose my appetite, and thus the tragic death
of my loved one would conveniently double as a diet plan.
In the version of the story where a masked gunman
breaks into our school and holds us all hostage, I am
always able to tackle him after he gets off a few
shots. One of them hits me non-fatally in the shoulder
and my current infatuation takes off his shirt to help
staunch the bleeding. I’m not sure how the story proceeds
from there because at this point in my dream I always
began to masturbate. I had determined that certain aunts
and cousins were important, but ultimately non-essential
enough to my daily life to be suitable options. Certain friends
had also been earmarked as acceptable, and I would update
my list with god each evening, playing through the
circumstances of their death and grieving each one with
actual tears so god might see what good choices I had made.
I didn’t want him to think I had cheaped out and picked a
distant relative or a secret enemy to exchange for my love’s
fulfillment. What kind of love would that be, anyway?

When it finally happened, there was no one but the floor
to fall into. Nothing but the gasping choke for my consolation.
I wouldn’t let anyone touch me. The sacrificial loved one?
My best friend with the crooked smile and first kiss around
the corner, her mother who kissed my head like a daughter,
her father who would fetch me midnight bowls of cereal,
her sister, getting ready to start college. The epic disaster?
An exploding plane.
To whom much is given, much is expected.
I no longer speak to god.
I love like I’d kill for it.

Cotton in the Air by Derrick Brown


Your polished back is arched like Saint Louis.
I can see your fingers pushing into the bricks
when I lift your hair
to smell October drain from your neck.

You are cotton caught in the air
I am unfurling laces in your body.

I move on you steady like a fleet of ships pushing ice.
I want to break it all.

Your tank top strap slips down the huh huh huh of your shoulder -
and I will not strain meaning from this.

I have to taste all of your shapes with my teeth.

I am waltzing a wrecking ball.

I am wading in the dark felt Tijuana paintings of your hair.
Molting my bed clothes
uncoiling towards Sahara.

All I want to do is hot lust you
into dead sweat.
To watch your legs, those bent sickles,
to watch them shake
like poisoned wrens.

I am gnashed and dazzled.
Smother me in the exhausted thrust of your yes… .
wet
as all exploding laundromats.

Darling, may I be the image you turn to
when you are heaving alone,
burning like Halloween in Detroit?

I am breathing up your legssssspitting at the hiding nightingale.
Drift your breasts into my mouth
and I will be that doped up, spinning victrola.
La la la la la la.

I want to make love to you while you’re wearing figure skates
until the hardwood floors are toothpicks.

I want to kiss your throat in a dressing room with my hands
bound around the slow song in your voice.

I don’t care if you made that dress, hippie,
I will shred it until you look deserted.

You’re as restless as a New Orleans graveyard in a storm
with the coffins boiling up to the surface.

That’s all this writing is. She is across from me and the
soup is cooking.

I sit up all night listening to her dental records.
I will teach her of exorcism and screw the hell out of her.
I will carry her steam in my mouth.

Daydreaming of the evening of loud struggle.
Call my name—I will cascade like a suicide.
I will fall upon you like a box of fluorescent bulbs
dropped from a five-story building.

I will do anything you ask… .
unless I have been drinking; then it is opposite day.

I can’t believe you can sleep through all this.

Chunks of brick in your fingernails.
Mortar on your pillow
a bomb shelter
sketched on your skirt.
Safe.
It says "safe."