The Romans put skulls into their love poems.
Skeletons and dry bones along with love.
As if violet was only beautiful against
something black. We also talked of death,
I perhaps more than you. It made me happy,
to think of the newly dead body being lowered
into the coffin of the other. You found
this idea impressive but terrible.
I longed for your agreement and approval.
Wanted you to understand the hugeness of love.
You whispered that our bones would be mixed
together, but probably it was your way
to get me to stop crying and go to sleep.
Which I did, contentedly. I wanted something
to be done, some enactment to prove this secret,
this illicit love. Something too large.
I wanted it made of actual things. Dirt
and corpses even. As real as the table you
said your love was that I could sit down to
and eat from if I wanted something permanent.
I wanted absoluteness to be made of my heart.
Out of the blue, I say, I’m from the state of Texas.
What’s that supposed to mean?
I know my son is gonna survive these ass-whoopings no matter how many of them there are. But when it’s five against one and there’s not a grown-up to intervene, I’m gonna instruct Dev to pick up a rock or a stick and leave a mark on somebody. Let’s hope it’s not your kid.
My uncle’s a lawyer, she says.
My daddy’s Pete Karr, I say, and hang up.
What I really want
is the resurrection of everyone
I ever loved
I will put them in a room
and never go inside
Can you understand being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the well
so you could feel something down there
tug at the other end of the rope?
Competition, prizes and awards are part of a patriarchal construct that destroys love and creativity by creating and protecting a singular hierarchical commodification of quality that does not, ever, represent the myriad successful expressions of art and art making. If you must use that construct, you use it the way one uses public transport. Get on, then get off at your stop and find your people. Don’t live on the bus, and most importantly, don’t get trapped on it.
This poem was originally published at bloof books on 4/2/17
i was ready to sit any porch
any overstuffed couch damp with rain
headlights in the mist like a patterning of mold
in my own life
i wrote my outfits on the calendar
like a protection spell
the days went by like Mikasa plates
plus the tasteless touch of a too-smart woman
i shot Goldschläger in art class
i got kicked out of the cotillion
for sneaking mint Schnapps in the coatroom
remember the trailer
in his parents’ backyard
pulling on my baby-t and jeans
to run inside and use his parents’ bathroom
i never wanted to be rich or poor
just trouble some trouble
all those painstaking poems i wrote in the diner
in an aesthetic of middle class failure
i had no where to put my middle finger
remember the apartment where 299
hit the mountain
that summer drinking 40s
with the girls from the Blue Moon
i was happy to listen
she told me she could only come now
when she was dancing
skinny like a child i thought
she could never make my body
i could never make my body
—jenn marie nunes
I learn the difference between Oriental and Asian in middle school. No one in my family teaches me. The people in my family don’t care about political correctness or preferred nomenclatures. Watching The Real World on MTV, Pam explains that things are Oriental—e.g. vases and rugs, food—whereas people are Asian. To say a person is Oriental makes them into an object.
“Some writers feel that when they write, there are people out there who just can’t wait to hear everything they have to say. But I go in with the opposite attitude, the expectation they’re just dying to get away from me.”
Maeve moves from one set of hands to the next. She smiles, reaching toward us with a hand no wider than my fingertips together. She squeezes my fingers hard, as if to say, Look! Beware! Maeve is strong!