I have curated a playlist of readings for the new volume of Black Bough Poems. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to work with such a talented editorial team on this project. Dark Confessions is a stunning anthology – slim, sure, but not to be underestimated in its ability to impact the reader.
In the playlist, I including my reading of a poem by the late Dai Fry. Dai Fry’s beautiful book, Under Photon Crowns, was released just this year. Dai’s death was a shock to the whole community that read and enjoyed his work. I hope that I have been able to do the poem justice with my reading.
Congratulations to all of the writers in this volume. To the readers: enjoy listening and reading. We sure did.
If you still haven’t picked up The Gull and the Bell Tower, I’ve compiled a Spotify playlist to accompany the book. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones to get an annotated copy, some of these songs may inform the reading.
I have been writing through National Poetry Month and editing some fragments that have been crouching behind shinier, more complete poems for a long time. So, I got a one-off print of over 700 pages of my writing because
I need to line edit / I can't
stare at the computer screen any
more / my printer just couldn't
handle it. The bulk of this work
is new manuscripts written during the pandemic. It is a very shiny and heavy chaos-volume.
This is an accountability post for the bad poems I’ve written for National Poetry Writing Month, so far. They’ve been terrible, and mean. But I saw meaner words exchanged today, and had better writing rejected in large swathes while I slept, so… fuck it? I guess?
how long did specialists not-know oil crawled under our canal to flood the maws of baby birds—garden hoses grass roots tree roots granite arteries track as vapor—we gasp—a new notice: ‘drilling monitoring wells’ under our vehicles
Schrodinger’s Poet Does Whitman
One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript. One of my writing brothers ghosts me for seven months and I stop calling. One of my writing brothers sits across from me in a coffeeshop while I dismantle myself audibly. One of my writing brothers climbs out of the woodworks. One of my writing brothers reads me an explicit poem about his ex-girlfriend. One of my writing brothers calls me in the night and tells me he almost drowned. One of my writing brothers takes me under his wing. One of my writing brothers shows me the ropes. One of my writing brothers has ropes.
One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript. One of my writing brothers has a wife who is too vanilla. One of my writing brothers tells me that I should not make science personal. One of my writing brothers tells me that persona poems are too vanilla. One of my writing brothers turns in a poem by a woman I know in a workshop I was waitlisted for. One of my writing brothers gets defensive when I say Wordsworth stole all his work from Dotty. One of my writing brothers has notes. One of my writing brothers is drunk enough to make a pass at a married woman. One of my writing brothers makes a pass at me. One of my writing brothers passes on me, though I never asked. One of my writing brothers passes.
One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript. One of my writing brothers confides that he maybe saw someone die at a party once. One of my writing brothers ghosts me for seven months and I am beside myself when he reappears. One of my writing brothers screams sea chanteys at the roof of a beer house. One of my writing brothers steals the alignment from one of my poems without understanding it. One of my writing brothers fights a tree in the street. One of my writing brothers stares up at the moon, intoxicated.
One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript. One of my writing brothers asks if I have read Hemingway. One of my writing brothers asks if I have read Bukowski. One of my writing brothers tells me he is in love with a sun. One of my writing brothers tells me he is in love with the woman who tags along to the party. One of my writing brothers clarifies that he is not actually in love. One of my writing brothers is not actually.
One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript. One of my writing brothers writes a book about me. One of my writing brothers says I should move the first stanza to the last stanza. One of my writing brothers harasses half the women on twitter. One of my writing brothers shares a video of the ocean. One of my writing brothers shares the ocean. One of my writing brothers grows visibly excited as he talks about suicidal women. One of my writing brothers researches the seasons by stalking them over several years. One of my writing brothers cannot stop staring into the waves, and dives to his neck.
One of my writing brothers grows visibly excited as he talks about suicidal women. One of my writing brothers ghosts me for seven months, then sends a text message to ask where to buy my book. One of my writing brothers is both the panorama, and the virus. One of my writing brothers poisons me. One of my writing brothers is me poisoned. One of my writing brothers is both me and not me. One of my writing, brothers.
One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript and I feel like a joke. One of my writing brothers walks
through the underworld in one of his poems. One of my writing brothers is in a radiated box. One of my writing brothers holds a mutual vial.
It is only a matter of time. Inanna hisses get out of my damn underworld.
One of my writing brothers walks around
down here. It is a mutual layer one of my writing brothers assures.
We run with open arms. We never have to look down.
One of my writing brothers is the most astounding writer.
What good could I do? Illuminate with some misread sense of order? Some false sense of self?
There are no animals here. No wings. No fruit.
One of my writing brothers says it is getting hotter every day. I correct one of my writing brothers when he tells me, hell is other people.
I don’t know what this was, but I sure as hell know what it was not
Following the site measurements after being functionally unemployed for over a year, in isolation, I use half of my first paycheck on a dress that I courted for months—the rest lowers credit cards—following the site measurements, I find that I am a 5X.
I browse news articles (sir algorithm knows me. He KNOWS me.) Knows I want to get out. Airlines are offering new snacks to stay afloat, tips on how to dress for your new isolation form, fair
corndogs from home, drive-thru fair outside of the home, this summer these ten tricks, fair date, which pubs have opened their doors for the diet that makes you -r swimsuit fall off is the reduction of your dreams, less body, hair, skin, eyes, even less body than that, models
of exercises you can jump rope yourself to less, a home sells for a million over asking and I am tens of thousands in the hole, easter celebration, pop-out, how positive my mother texts, I am today, when
I tell her I might re-pot a lemon cypress, knowing what a cypress stands for, not cupcakes, pastel in the home, pastel on the walls, pastel in the mouth, in the dress that falls off the body during international travel
some isolation forms are buying homes in international places, wearing clothes that fall off the body in international places, outdoors
some dine in soft light, move solid in campers, camp near a fire light, spin tales near their articulated wish for more pastel, less self to tell around
bon -fires, clamping hard, a little camp in your makeup routine, new hikes, the new hiking boots that will fall off your calves as if you didn’t ever even have calves
or hype bourbon until it’s your new man, April tastes like less self, to drink every calorie, to even taste thinner— when he finally gets there.
Miss Havisham Moonlights on the Next Episode of Marriage or Mortgage?
The water is out again and I am
on my knees I beg you— you snap back—
I snap, too. I have started snapping faster. I have entered
the conversation of where will we be
at any given moment. I am almost thirty-eight and all of my hair
is self-hacked. I am so fat now, patches of stark colorless fur over -take my skull and my gentle wedding hat is sitting in a box in a garage
somewhere, the delicate wedding dress adorned with strange snakes and giraffes
is filling with mold—wadded into a ball—it’s too late to invite anyone I would have. At the very least
we could still get the hell out of here before we’re both dead.
how lonely it would seem when the way turned the light
out. looks sing day. flowers were a pain
to get delivered—that weird concession from place—several tiny flying bugs
are taking over. or maybe a lemon cypress. a bunny made out of burlap
twigs. how I was writing some. and now tired of trying to fit. this
I am sequestered. this is where art.
making life or beauty. or this wasn’t anything.
Cupcake Returns Me to the Cosmos
During the pandemic I have gained mass. Extreme mass. I have lost density in my bones and replaced muscle tissue with adipose. I am rolling into the densest object in your far-cast skies. The far-off dream of heat-death. I am forging my body into a malleable magnet that will pull my light from my corporeal heft, I hope. I hope to evaporate into a pulse of dust every day. To fine-tune myself into blink and lust. When I go, I will go so fast that everything will be illuminated for a fracture of a second the only remainder, a depression.
GREEN (A Found Poem)
ALL We are monitoring, well, to the end.
Starting, WELL, DRILLING. Begin, begin. DRILLING WILL CONTINUE. DAY. DAY. These wells will monitor the ground water and the gas line that runs along the canal. Section. Rive. Be slow. time stopped. BE MOST AFFECTED.
AND ALL THE FREE AT THE TURN OF BUILDING WILL BE SIGNIFICANT NOISE.
Everything on the page is bad, everything hand-written is bad. Everything sitting up in my head is bad.
I told him the other day that it feels like there’s holes up in my head. Like everything is wildly trying to connect around these sudden holes. And it’s all whirring so fast because the connections can’t figure out what’s missing. They don’t know there’s holes up there, only that there used to be pathways, and those pathways dropped out.
I’m really grateful to Rob Mclennan for including me in this interview series. I talk about the book, and writing, and give book recommendations. If you’d like to order a copy of my book, you can order it directly from Femme Salvé Books.
Scott Thomas Outlar’s Songs of Selah podcast on January 11, 2021. The reading included the brilliant women behind Femme Salvé Books, and their forthcoming projects, which are sizzling creations. You can listen to the podcast segment here.
Learn more about my cat AND my book in this interview with the kind folks at the Operation Awesome Blog. Includes a writing exercise, and several book recommendations.
If you still haven’t picked up a copy of The Gull and the Bell Tower, you can do so on the Femme Salvé Books website, here.
I gave some exciting background on the book, and read a few poems on Scott Thomas Outlar’s Songs of Selah podcast on January 11, 2021. The reading included the brilliant women behind Femme Salvé Books, and their forthcoming projects, which are sizzling creations. You can listen to the podcast segment here.
Additionally, I answered questions about the book and my writing influences in a feature in the amazing 2020 pandemic issue of Fevers of the Mind, with David O’Nan. I have a bundle of new poems in the issue that are all unedited construction pieces intended to convey the panic of pandemic life. Read / preview this packed issue below.
If you’re feeling bummed about missing the launch reading of The Gull and the Bell Tower, check out my reading of the first piece, The Dreamer’s Seagull, on my SoundCloud. It’s a bit spooky, and I pluck my beautiful Gibson, haphazardly in it.