Category Archives: poetry

Baby’s First Mobile Home Goes to VT

At lunch with coworkers today, I asked the waitress for a refill of my Diet Coke. “We don’t really do that,” she said, hesitating, so I assured her, “It’s not for me. It’s for the baby.” She laughed and said, “OK!”

Apparently last night, I was snoring and farting in my sleep, because pregnancy is beautiful. Much more of this, and I wouldn’t blame Mr. Ben for deciding that maybe we’ve been doing too much co-sleeping and we should move from Attachment Relationship-ing to an arrangement that has me in another room in a crib. [EDITOR’S NOTE: This is parenting humor. If you don’t get it, you should reward yourself with another vodka shot and one night stand.] I mean, I’ve never snored before, and “it was so loud in my dream that it was a dog,” he reported. “Then I woke up and found it was you.”

The baby totally owed me for that, so helping me get that Diet Coke was the least Squee could do.

Not to mention, if it hadn’t been for the baby, I wouldn’t have had to throw myself out of paradise after only two weeks.


No, I shouldn’t complain: it was great that I could go at all & take Squee — she’ll never be so easy to transport again; in fact, I am her very first mobile home! I had a fantastic time filled with sunny gem-colored days, waterfalls, mountains, swimming holes, ping pong, pool, karaoke, three meals a day served to me in the company of friends, Adirondack chairs, old barns, even older cemeteries, horror movie showings, books, cable TV, freshly baked bread, and massages that cost $45 for an hour. Communing with animals helped me get in touch with my maternal side!

Getting to know King Kong, by Gala


Pretending to liberate Giraffe, by Aliza Morell

There were a couple of days in the midst of the heatwave when the humid airlessness of my studio, which was utterly unprepared for temperatures over 75 degrees, made it difficult to write. Still, I got to page 60 of my nascent novel. Plus research, plotting, charting, reading & thinking! Yeah accomplishment.

I also felt so social — thanks very little to my own extroversion and more to the set up of the fellowship. A whole slew of residents arrived in unison, a mix of young, old, poets, fiction-writers, visual artists, students, teachers, and guest lecturers, to live and eat and play together on a campus well-integrated into a picturesque little northern Vermont town. Almost immediately, I was lucky enough to fall into a cadre of talented, smart, incredibly good and beautiful girls, with whom a run to the supermarket became as entertaining as a road trip.

And I got to bond with some impressive writers & artists of various ages, including the funny, kind Matthew Guenette, with whom I did work study in the kitchens, an experience that bonds participants together much like service in ‘Nam; high priestess of Tarot, calm, and good-humor Lynne Thompson; knife-making Mountain Man with a heart of gold Nick Anger; pop culture feminist professor-poet extraordinaire Simone Muench; and others.

Far be it from me to exaggerate the quality of the work done by the other VSC residents. Check it out for yourself: the word-art of Brett Lysne, which takes over-thinking to a whole new level; the eerie, beautiful, obsessively-rendered ladies of Katy Horan; the painstakingly precise, whimsical Americana collages of Rachel Grobstein; and oh my god so many, many more.

Untitled by Katy Horan
Art by Rachel Grobstein
The World Doesn’t End!! by Rachel Grobstein

Caitlin Doyle’s creepy masterpiece about adolescence “Thirteen” stuck with me for days. (Apparently it also pleased the editors of Best New Poets 2009.) And I’m still in awe of Nomi Stone, who has managed to publish poetry while amassing Fulbrights, advanced degrees, and experiences living around the world. As I discovered this fall during my residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, it’s invigorating to be around so much skill & energy.

Leaving was hard, and I would like to go back if at all possible please. Not for me — for the baby.

I Hate the Future

While browsing through old journals for the mem-wa, I came across this curt poem I wrote four years ago, when I had just been laid off from Job #2:

I Hate the Future

I hate the future

dark car
on a dark street

Something bright may sit
behind the tinted windows

All i see
is the barreling forward
the peaceful air it displaces

Four years later, employed again (Job #5!), housed again (Apartment #4!) and married, I am elated to discover, some things never change.

it’s early for fireworks

It sounds like the city is practicing for the Fourth of July outside my window. Sadly my apartment faces the wrong way — even if I go out onto the fire escape, I can only see towards Manhattan, whereas the city sends the fireworks in the other direction, over the river by the Promenade. Maybe we’ll keep that in mind when Mr. Ben and I opt for a bigger apartment in this neighborhood.

Technically I should be in Prospect Park at the free Joan Osbourne Sings the Blues concert, one of countless free events NYC has begun to offer in honor of the delicious weather. Just the other night I was swaying to the enthusiasm of Sharon Jones in Rockefeller Park. But this evening I felt compelled to attend to one of the characters in my novel, the mother, Abby. She’s been sort of shortchanged. Things tend to happen around her, not to her, and it occurred to me I should fix that. And I haven’t had time: this week has been as packed as last week was.

Yesterday, for example, after some necessary but fucking expensive dental work, I wandered around, continuing to make purchases, on the assumption that solace could only be found in the hair of the dog that bit me. Although this experience in the dentist’s chair wasn’t as bad as the last one with the x-rays that left me in tears, it wasn’t fun. Once again I resorted to reciting poetry in my head to keep my mind off the fact that my jaw had been hanging open for an hour.

It’s funny, the poems that go through your head at such awkward moments. In fifth grade, when my teacher assigned us all to memorize and recite a piece, most people came in trotting Shel Silverstein behind them. When it was my turn, I got up in front of the class and began at verse 52 of Macaulay’s Horatius at the Bridge:

But meanwhile axe and lever
had manfully been pried
and now the bridge hangs tottering
above the boiling tide …

I was an overachiever but more importantly, my father was. I still think about poor Horatius from time to time, like when I’m immobilized and Novacained and being prodded with sharp silver sticks.

But fiercely ran the current,
Swollen high by months of rain:
And fast his blood was flowing;
And he was sore in pain,
And heavy with his armour,
And spent with changing blows:
And oft they thought him sinking,
But still again he rose.

I rose; I tried to ignore my lopsided facial numbness as I ran errands. Shopping for flatware when you can’t feel your mouth is an experience, let me tell you.

I’m also very partial to the Pied Piper of Hamelin from listening to Gielgud recite it over and over again on a tape I had as a kid. But my memory of it is spotty, sadly. You should read it if you haven’t: it’s fantastic, full of wickedly clever rhymes.

I have one more dentist appointment before this horror series is over (it’s my fault for putting off visiting one for three and a half years–and, um, for not flossing). Maybe I’ll work on memorizing something meaty and substantial in preparation. Let me know if you have recommendations.