We should sign up to see only people we like,
like Albert Goldbarth, who dishes
out a maelstrom of nipple-twitching,
a lip ring in a dungeon.
I am so glad to have you to talk to. How
can I stop? Don’t make me,
like a birthday card with a naked cheerleader
open carefully, contents under
pressure me to do something unconventional!
Isn’t this the room from Ghostbusters? And isn’t Dan Aykroyd
about to drop one of these chandeliers on our heads?
Chevy Chase waits in the wings
while the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man gets fatter.
Here, have you tried Burt’s Bees Hand Salve for your
back pain? If I see one more set of air quotes
I’m going to pull out my hair; it’s dying anyway.
Air quotes don’t validate me in the manner to which
a chandelier would, were it falling on the doddering
old man who is putting me to sleep. It must be his naptime.
I just heard the crystal in the chandelier yawn,
the artificial flames are rolling in the glass housing.
For someone who doesn’t read anymore, I wonder what in
the Wichita Kansas I am doing here; writers are weird.
Who’s story is this? I don’t want Cliff’s notes, I’d
rather jump off a cliff, dive into a Jell-O beach
blonde dead hair salt rinse. With my tuition in remission
my eyes, just like Dickens, changed public opinion,
invoked pop criticism
like pop tarts—twitchingly sweet but unsubstantial.
I am in love with the guy up there telling the story of Little Red
Riding Hood, even though we can’t understand him.
Do you think his accent is thick because he knows it charms us?
It’s a shame(less). I’m tired of wearing a loincloth over my
banana and nuts; thank you, “Mom,”
for taking care of me. Here try my RC
and let’s sit in the room with chandeliers that got squashed
by giant tomatoes fleeing from a Hitchcock film,
spilling a trail of seeds on the pavement
like Hansel. I want to be a mentor mentee
without menthol or menstruation.
Left-handed pens worn as jewelry,
girls as jewelry, women in the men’s bathroom.
Only one man attends the session on lesbian fiction.
Maybe he has identity issues, or geographic ineptitude.
How many eating disorders can one woman collect?
Tender hooks, full of appetites, they must press on.
Coconut custard cream pie baked on a crust of holy wafers
Deliver unto me its lascivious blasphemy.
We switch to Waldorf [the best room] and Why We Need
Ideas for Stories. Maybe we need salad instead
of ideas. We do not choose our medium—
it chooses us.
I like him—bald, bubbly, and repetitive.
Like any Buddhist, I long for an epiphany
Not a phony epiphany but an organic semantic.
I need to lose weight to sit next to you.
And the loafers—I never took you for a loafer.
Every now and then it just feels good
to untie myself from the confines of laces.
I’d hoped to get through the day without air quotes.
Why do I think everything she says is bogus?
Because all stories already exist in formlessness;
the only thing that changes
is the desire to trap them between the lines.
After the last forum everything else sucks.
I’m in love with Robert Olen Butler.
Now what can I do but drive five hours one way.
Five hours is a blip in time when we’re talking love.
I am surprised by the stark whiteness of this crowd.
When do you want to leave, and how do we extract ourselves?
We’ll go after this speaker and ease into the Ballroom,
where we can dance with the woman
who speaks with her hands.
I want to learn to speak without sound,
fingers opening and crossing fists.
My messages to you would bend gently at the knuckles
palms warm and open. I would be honored
to have my reading interpreted by her
in a grey double-breasted jacket,
hands dancing in pantomime.
Does she ever get tongue-tied?
I’d help her, but my hands are tied.
She’s always a phrase behind
because she must hear and think and hand dance.
How does she whisper?
I have so many secrets.
The best place to put something
for no one to read is in a poem.
Oh how I would love to make words dance.
I like listening to the ways they sway and shuffle.
I have a Chicagoland hand rash
so I pull a pen from behind my ear and write.
Stories about dust and snow, death and fire.
The chandeliers are pears ablaze above
Donald Hall. He’s changed since I read him in class
or maybe I’m confusing him
with some other grey, unkempt poet.
His head nods rhythmically
either from a mild Tourettes,
or maybe it’s narcolepsy.
© 2011 Meredith Danton Camel and Diane Larson