How one cleans a toilet or does the dishes matters as much as how one enters a poem.
I want to sleep like the birds
then wake to write you again
without hope that you read me.
What poems make you want to yell from a rooftop? Fall in love and scream your head off? That’s all I really care about. The rest is middle management job security cocktail banter.
The problem had been that I didn’t know who one of the characters was, and I was resisting the obvious answer, which was that the character was “me.” I’d always suspected that I might be a character in the book, as a version of myself, but for various reasons, I resisted this. It felt too contrived. Too metafictional. Too postmodern. The earthquake and tsunami forced me to put myself on the line, as it were, and to step into the fictional world and participate. If this hadn’t happened, I would have written a lesser book.
Each line of your face
a dismissed metaphor.
You the timid champion
of time with men and art.
I don’t know you but I know you love something
A person, place or thing, maybe a song
And it’s not for me to tell you whether that should be enough
I just hope you let it feed you til you’re strong
lifting her head from the till—
‘Is that what it’s called?’
She hands back my card
over the pickled feet display
with a shrug, on learning
a new word, ‘wisteria,’ I savor
all the more as I drive back into it.
"The Girlfriend Game"!
What the fuck, right? Sounds like a game show. Spin the wheel and get a girlfriend. Will she be Vera Nabokov, or will she be Zelda Fitzgerald? Just be nice to her.
Like everyone else, as a reader there are certain things that really rub me the wrong way in fiction—pet bugbears, let’s call them. Most kinds of repetition drive me batty. Dreams in fiction tend to irritate me no end. Lazy italicization. Et cetera. But it seems healthy to me, every so often, to take one of those things and make it the center of some new piece of fiction, as a good-natured “fuck you!” to my aesthetic instincts.
On the day my mother died, I unplugged
the stereo at a time when record clubs
still sent out their selections of the month
unless you said otherwise. The mail piled up
on a table in the entry hall—an avalanche
of bills and condolences I knew I didn’t
have to respond to. People would understand.