A poem a day in April from Rutgers English PhD students and friends.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

eco-, eco-essay of change

i guess it’s too late to live on a planet
where the deer and the antelope play
where natural occurs as an accurate word
and the springs are not winter all day

                       with apologies to bernadette mayer and brewster higley

[I'll be putting them up and taking them down a day later, as usual.  Probably less frequently than in past years!  But looking forward to reading . . . Happy NPM!]

Friday, March 27, 2015

R U Ready for NaPoWriMo 2015?

Can you believe that some of us have been at Rutgers for FIVE YEARS? And that this will be the SIXTH YEAR of RUNaPoWriMo?

Whether it's your sixth year or your first, welcome (back) for another month of fabulous, irreverent, ridiculous, self-serious, academic, non-academic, inside-jokey, totally accessible, TS-Eliot-cruel, Geoffrey-Chaucer-"soote," dooryard-blooming, orals-reading, procrastinating, spring-flinging poems! NO PRESSURE. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Live on the Internet: A Diary (April 30)


It turns out that I'm afraid of looking like a crone after all.
It turns out that I need to revise that last line: I'm afraid of looking like a mom.
It turns out that I can't fix anything except sometimes very small things.
It turns out that I treat everyone like they're my mother.
It turns out that I'm worried about you changing.
It turns out that I feel pretty incomplete without you.
It turns out that it's faster to take Ocean Avenue home.
It turns out that the sky is rose-colored and falling on our heads.
It turns out that if one of us is a Tori Amos song we are both Tori Amos songs about widows.
It turns out that the Sex and the City guy I should be with is Harry.
It turns out that the man I should marry is my own husband.
It turns out that I can't get through one verse of that song Where Are You Going without crying.
It turns out that my crying and singing does nobody any good.
It turns out that I once made a very good joke about donut holes.
It turns out that if you sit like a man you may or may not talk like a man.
It turns out that if you type like a man you may email like a man.
It turns out that if you take up more physical space people will take you more or less seriously depending on your gender.
It turns out that I'm not that kind of woman.
It turns out that I'm very bad at time management.
It turns out that I needed all my vowels.
It turns out that this month was cruel in only the most ordinary way.
It turns out that today I am a whole month older.

LIPSTICK: MY SECRET (after Christina Rossetti)


"i'm flooding the Baton Rouge swamps with barf--& i just ate a lot of tubes of lipstick, so it's way colorful" -- Lara Glenum, on facebook
I tell my secret? No indeed, not I;
Perhaps some day I'll rub
it out for you; but now I'm in da club;
And you’re too curious: fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.

Or, after all, perhaps it's all for naught!

Suppose, when all this frantic clubbing's done,
And I go home with all the slap I've bought, 

Suppose there is no secret after all,
But only just my fun.
Today’s a sunny day, a blinding day;
In which one wants a slight
Dusting of powder, best in natural light;
I cannot ope to everyone who taps,
And let the patriarchs inspect my inner hall:
Come bounding and surrounding me,
Come buffeting, astounding me,
Nipping and clipping thro’ my guts and all.
I wear my mask for Cher: who ever shows
Her nose to Russian bros
To be pecked at by every cock that grows?
You would not peck? I thank you for good will,
Believe, but leave the truth untested still.

Spring’s an expansive time: yet I don’t trust
March with its luster dust,
Nor April with its showers of Fuchsia Flash,
Nor even May, whose dash
Of Maybelline might wither on my lash.

Perhaps some languid summer day,
When drowsy bros approach me less and less,
And my white skin is burning to excess, 

If all around is colorless and dry,
And if I've gone and smoked my smoky eye
Perhaps my secret I may puke away,
Or you may guess.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Live on the Internet: A Diary (April 29)


I stopped writing a poem a day
on working days
stopped working
started working
stopped sleeping
looking at screens before bed
in bed
reading articles on the internet tells me this is bad for sleep

gained entrance to an archive
started working
(“all large work seems fatally full of weakness & vulgarity (I mean my own)”)
started reading
skimming skipping screening
“Here is Ariadne in a nice little frock—Why have’nt I always written in English to you? This is me—and almost for the first time.”
This is her.

These are love letters!

A love telegram!
“Toute mon ame avec vous” Stop

the differences between aimer and lover

“we must be united a great deal closer & better than now”

Is it requited?

I had to leave Paris.

(Back in Cambridge. The spin cycle is on. “I am able to enjoy only writing down stray thoughts in my note book. […] I can sew them together taut bien que mal. But that is not real form.”)

Monday, April 28, 2014


No wait I know you told me it would be like this but it's horrible
like that fairytale where you tug on a little gold thread
and your life advances and advances and advances and you can't
put the thread back in the box or whatever it is
It's like some baby pulling all the toilet paper off the roll
It's like some baby trying to hold on to a thread made of water
If I could beat your face as you are right now into my memory
with a railroad spike through my own forehead I would do it
If I could take a picture of every one of your breaths
and make a collage over my bed for when I'm old
I thought it was scary to be in love and lying in bed together
when all the shadows were full of threat, but that was nothing
If I could take so many pictures that I could make a 3D image
If I could melt down all the pictures I've ever taken in my life
to make a graven image that everybody would fall down and worship
well I suppose I'd get in trouble

You Know

You need to get some critical theory
under your belt
and memorize some of the finer details
to have in your pocket
and then weave the particulars into the bigger picture
to make your own narrative
and read everything
quickly and thoroughly,
you idiot.

On the Late and Sudden Death of my Tulips

My tulips bring all
the boys to the yard. Damn right,
they're better than yours.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


The little gold divot is catching the light, the fingerhold in the closet door.
Do a close reading please of this nameless thing, this gold whetticourt my aunt would say; do a close reading of this whetticourt quietly gleaming as the focal point in a room.
This shadowy room with dark blue walls.
A good painter would know how to do the light on the little divot in the closet door: one flick of the wrist, some lemon-yellow paint, or is it candle-colored.
I don't know, I'm not a good painter. I don't know how pure the paint would have to be.
I do not and have never understood value.
I do, however, have a lot of faith in the flick of the wrist.
And I know, too, how good this would look on a book cover.
On the bedside table, the source of the light--a beaded lampshade on a silver stand--falls more generously and loosely and warmly on The House in Paris, which has a Matisse for a cover, and on a bottle of baby ibuprofen and its proprietary dropper, and the blue baby monitor, and a quarter, and a retainer, and on a book called The Safe Nanny Handbook and on a book called The Deportees, and on a pair of sunglasses.
We unhooked the co-sleeper about a week ago, and suddenly there's all this room beside the bed.
I want to write about something that isn't so domestic.
I try to think of something that isn't domestic.
The FCC.
The girls who were kidnapped from their physics test in Nigeria.
The article about the Great American Novel that made me so mad in The New Yorker.
If I pretended to you that my feelings about these things, and my thoughts that are never not feelings, and my wishes and hopes, and my will to change any of these things, were rooted in something other than this home, or what it represents to someone and probably to me, I wouldn't be able to climb out of the skein of sheets, I would stumble over the co-sleeper that turns out to still somehow be attached to the bed, I would sputter, I would hiss through my retainer, you wouldn't take anything I said seriously because of the gush of saliva through my retainer.
Is there a way to admit that and not be proud of it?
I've been telling everyone for years I want to write my dissertation about The Domestic, but it's all just because I had this feeling sitting on a red rug in my first apartment in college, marking up Sylvia Plath's journals when my roommate was out of town.
Open in Word documents on my computer (this computer) an entire strain of the American morbid confessional, right through Sylvia Plath form that can contain but not express feeling
If this is a still life, can I include text from different Word documents, if they're all open on my computer? Do I have to resize each window so that they're both visible at once on the screen, along with the window in which I'm composing this poem?
If this is a still life, is it an interactive still life, where you can click around and look at different documents on my computer? Can you lift up one of the books on the table and see what the cover looks like? Can you ask me to name something that isn't domestic?
You can't move your head and see the fillip of light on the divot from any other angle.
That one is non-negotiable.
I wanted to write about The Domestic with a capital D but now look at me.
The lamp is also reflected in the window. We can feel the cold air coming in from outside.
Cats, horns, rush of cars, neighbors' footsteps, mournful wind, airplane, argument.
Don't worry, we're still floating in space.
Don't worry, we have absolutely never been safe.

Live on the Internet: A Diary (April 26, 27)

Saturday, April 26, 2014


At Jane's First Feminist Fireworks, we asked
In which Simpsons episodes does Marge not speak?
and passed around sharp cheddar, raspberries,
and chocolate-covered raisins.

When the fireworks started, most of us broke off and went up the hill
but as Becca said, everyone there was me
& I was them, so it was OK, and the magnolias
were naturally pink and artificially pink

Jane, naturally and artificially pink
clutched her strange new rainbow sword
and squealed at not quite exactly the right times
but she was learning

There were these little spurts first
and then these kind of cyclical sprays
and then after a while so many explosions and we said I think it's done
and Marisa said that's what he said

and on the way home Jane kept saying
& I showed her the video and she squealed
remembering, and/or still learning

Live on the Internet: A Diary (April 23-25)

catching up with filming--

Temple University Orchestra, Thursday

       The Pines of Rome are many and moving.             You can’t look for them (they aren’t really in Rome, not these)
but they may steal you               for your splintered memories:          
          When you were sweating out bug spray at band camp, rubbing your sore lips, lifting your chin to see beyond the bifocals, dodging night beetles. 
Fantasia 2000 and the trippy whales:         Above is below and the end is    one huge gulp of air.
                                         Whenever I hear the oboe I think of my sister. Sometimes the oboe and the bassoon play together and that is like my sister playing with my other sister.                    We had our moments of harmony.
         The Pines of Rome aren’t really pines.             They are the sounds produced from lots of different frictions.                        They are the crests of waves   multiplying and gathering strength and interfering with one another.                       They are so many moving parts.   What you have is really          a dance             or a great migration.      
Some parts are messy, like a mistake.      Sometimes the throat gets caught high in the voice.
           Some things happen off stage.              
       The bass might sound like men singing in hallways.         It will trick you, and you’ll love that.             It will evoke birds -- 

(hour 1:40) http://new.livestream.com/accounts/1927261/events/2891573