Friday, October 24, 2008

a new chapbook mostly constisting of poetry

Today I started putting together a new chapbook. I want to have it ready for my tour with Sam. I want to share some of its potential content with you, but a lot of it is "off-limits" until the end of 30/30.

Here are some ideas for names that I thought of while scrolling through the poems:

  • Eating Eating Eating
  • Drafts Of Suicide Letters That Became Knock-Knock Jokes
  • Blue Agave Nectar
  • Textured Vegetable Protein-Based Miracle Substitute

Here are a few poems that might give you some idea of why I would think of these titles:

Graduating the Weekend

My housemate’s cat doesn’t have a job. He spends
his hours sniffing chairs and discovering new ways
to lie down. Once, he stood on the living room
windowsill and stared at a sparrow on the telephone
wire, his eyes and calves figuring the crosshairs,
but smoothly, lazily, aware of his occupation
even then. He didn’t watch the bird fly off. Instead,
he hopped over the couch to his tuna bowl. I asked
him, “Butch, what are you doing with your life?”
but he kept staring into the loveseat, then said,
“Go ahead and scratch my chin.” I obliged, but
I knew he meant to say, “I’m saving up for a nice, satisfying
death.” My housemate has a smart cat. He helps me think:

I’ve decided I cannot commit suicide until I’ve recorded
at least two more albums and written at least a book’s worth
of suicide letters. But I just keep writing knock-
knock jokes, even though the only time I answer
our door, it’s the landlord, and he wants to talk
to somebody who’s in charge. I tell him we all
live here, and we’ve been trying to call a meeting
to discuss the lease, and he says, “What is there
to discuss?” and I say, “The lease,” and then, “Oh!
That sounded sarcastic. I’m so sorry. Please let me live
here still.” He shakes my hand and leaves and Wow,
I have had so few real life experiences. I hop over
to the kitchen to try not to ruin a sandwich, but

the fridge ran out of tofu, and before I can find hummus,
Butch starts circling my legs. He’s not a black cat,
and I have no path; there’s nothing to worry about,
so I tell a knock-knock joke:


(Who’s there?)

The landlord.

(“The landlord” who?)

The land and its lord need you
to make a decision
and they can’t wait
another day, so
what’s your call,


Decorative Squash

The decorative

They sit behind store windows.
They sit beside scarves on hooks
and cell phones on columns,
beside mannequins with hats
and shirts and pants and scarves
and cell phones.

The decorative squash
wear friendly colors,
like French yellow
and fireplace orange
and hospice green.

I hate the decorative squash.
They are not my friends. I hate them.

The decorative squash does not make me want to buy a hat.
The decorative squash does not make me want to buy a shirt.
The decorative squash does not make me want to buy a scarf.

I already have a cell phone.
The cell phone store cannot understand this.

The decorative squash cannot
understand cell phones.

I cannot understand
how cell phones kill the bees.

The bees would eat the decorative squash
if you let them.

Fourteen-year-old kids would smash
the decorative squash, or throw them
if you let them.

Let’s attack!
Let’s smash the decorative squash!
Let’s feed them to the bees!
Let’s throw them at fourteen-year-old kids!

We don’t have to do that;
I’m sorry. I’m being rude.

I just want to go for a walk through Harvard Square
without buying a scarf
or a cell phone.

I just want to cut the decorative squash
into pieces too small to see
because they are so useless.

Parsley sits around and is useless
until someone cuts it
into pieces too small to see,
then it’s part of food.

No one finds it rude
when you cut a chicken or a duck or a cow
into pieces too small to see,
except for vegans,
who might feel suspicious
that you’ll sneak animals
into their soup.

I am a vegan,
and this is something you can remember about me,
like a special scarf.

I am thinking today about decorative squash.

Actually, I’m lying.
I’m thinking about butternut squash,
how I’ll eat a bowl of butternut squash soup
with my friends,
and Max will think I’m putting honey into our soups,
but it will actually be agave nectar.

Actually, I’m lying.
I will eat my soup by myself.

Sometimes I feel sorry for the decorative squash.
I sit by a window
in a shirt and pants
and a scarf
beside my cell phone.
I lie down and there are bumps all over my body.


(this is a greeting card that I'm considering sending to Hallmark)

On the morning of your first shave…

You’ll know, in years to come, that your father
encouraged you to leave the moustache
as a private joke to himself, that your neighbor
wrote you up in her diary only this once,

and only, unwittingly, to share this joke,
and to complain about her mother nagging
her towards you before the bus stop. But
this moustache, feathery and pixie-

small, holds magic today, holds it gently
in thin, up-curved claws, a secret forest
teeming with great beasts you may suspect
of stealing the girlfriends you never get—

such a scarily magical forest, these dreams
of manhood, even though the goatee for which
you’ve sewn those seeds can only grow
into a deeper mimicry of the adult male

by the adult male, when one day, as you now
hope, you will eat a hearty dinner, then retire,
brewski-handed, to half-sleep in the soft infomercial
glow, continuously dreaming of waking up.


Please tell me if you have any other ideas for this chapbook's name. I might figure out a way to sell it online, but chances are that I won't figure it out and will eventually forget.

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