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

Sunday, May 1, 2016


yes, you
lose steam
summer coming up,
you get tired
baby mermaid
in her mermaid boat
hollowed out
climbs and climbs
and plunges
you listen
baby mermaid
mouth wide
check one more
off the list

Saturday, April 30, 2016

29, 30

Then I was digging out the 
watercolor set I got
when I was eleven or
maybe twelve and throwing out
the colors that had hardened. 
How'd they end up way out here?
Some tubes stayed squeezable these

long decades and those I kept
and used to make a painting:
peach, grey, brown, yellow, deep blue:
desert sunset, or study 
in salvageability. 
Goodbye to the girl who chose 
art: as for me, choose again. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

xxviii–xxix. Concretion


A New Jersey idyll would begin
And end with Route 1.

The antipodean terminals, Florida and Maine,
Coalesce along that serpentine highway,

Forming a vortex of vagaries and strip mall surfaces,
Flat blots on a depthless image.


Until, fascinated, like a zombie enchanted,
The rear of a Jeep Liberty greets you.

The heave forward crawling across your memory,
Even still, like molten chocolate down a chin:

A durable presence, a slip of ink,
On a concrete canvas.

26, 27, 28

Four a.m. thundercracks and
then fell back asleep to join
you at an overpass: walked
to the rail to see a house
being dismantled, each wall
stacked, intact, in a truck that
would soon haul them all away.

In the morning jet engines
sound off under cloud cover.
I didn’t believe these days
would come again: losing faith
even in rain, winter, loss.
It won’t always be this way:
learning my lessons again.

Two nights later there are two
of you and I’m supposed to
figure out which one’s really
you: not the giant with the
waxen skin. Right. My sister
asks me what my other name
is, but I can’t remember.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reading Report (Bernadette Mayer, Columbia University, April 27, 2016)

I must tell you that W.H. Auden said that Rilke is the Santa Claus of loneliness.

I know it’s very easy to think Rilke’s a jerk—but just go there a little.

I want all of you to write a conversation with your house.

I was flying back from Chicago … first class … with The New York Times Magazine with my poem in it … isn’t that how life should be? It’s taken me 70 years for life to be this way.

In this case, grown-up work means, like, very confused work.

A good thing to learn at school is how to eat properly.

Everybody was a guy. They thought of me as a person to fuck. So my poetry was never taken seriously as poetry. I’m sorry to say this to you, since you’re a man, but one of the things I learned is that men are assholes.

Everyone thinks it’s so cute when a baby makes no sense and then falls down. But it would be just as cute if adults made no sense and then fell down.

Poetry means the same thing as engineering. You make something out of nothing.

Let’s put all these geniuses together in a home.

I’ve been thinking about animals quite a lot … I mean, that’s weird, right?

Favorite time of day, let’s see … evening because the colors are changing … and they can be so different.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

xxvi-xxvii. Summer Style


As the days lengthen I grow impervious
And resilient against time.

Not like a mountain, which is pacified
By the wind’s conciliatory whisper,

But like a star that burnt out
Long before today

But which still blazons and bears
Across time to today.


An improbable but nonetheless accurate statement:
A gay bar is like a moonless forest.

Both, full of echoes and élan.
Both, where durable forms reiterate in corporation.

Both contain a fullness that binds the night
To no memory but duration.

A more probable but nonetheless accurate statement:
A gay bar is nothing like a moonless forest.

My step-father took us out once to shoot
A rifle at empty beer cans,

Which bulleted off a moldering log
Like a frightened quail.

My shoulder hurt for days
But I occasionally knocked a few cans over

And the forest collected the crackling gunshot
And held it like a reflection.

At a gay club I pick out guys that mimic
The look of my step-father.

They almost never dance with me.

And that’s how a gay bar is like a moonless forest.
Formless bodies broken only by the dawn.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

22, 23, 24, 25

Awaited Kate. Bought TP
and rosé. I hadn’t been
by for a while—they were in
the midst of moving the pink
bottles from bottom shelf to
top. It’s summertime again.
I grabbed a Gabriella

and went to pay. He said I
looked nice, was I going to
a party? (Shiny purple
ruffles in memoriam.)
I said yes (I wasn’t) and
let him wrap it in tissue
paper and silver gift bag.


Just because I can’t see you
under cloud cover doesn’t
mean I don’t know you’re there. Not
under, beyond. She always
goes away but then always
comes back. I know how to love
the ones like that: weave a shroud.


I must come from some tough stock
I think while powdering my face
and noticing no grey hairs
or noticeable wrinkles
even after all this grief.
My eyes seem sadder but they’re
the ones doing the looking.

Monday, April 25, 2016

xxv. Materialism

Growing up I thought that ghosts lived in our basement
Ghosts usually appear in attics or spare rooms
But I slept in the attic so it made more sense
That the sputtering sounds of a water heater
And the hazy hiss of the dryer exhaust vent
Were the immaterial echoes of spectral
Bodies burdened by the dark and gravelly loam
And Devonian fossils dropped eons ago
Which kept the basement musty cool throughout the year
That space of connection and of disconnection
That snagged my attention late at night like a net
That dingy dusty dark below which marked my mind
And I felt my body melt even as eyesight
Sometimes melts in the formless confusion of night