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10 Things (or 5 Things)

1. If I was dating Jack White and someone from Rolling Stone wrote about it or maybe not Rolling Stone because do they even write about girlfriends, but this writer would say, “I am surprised by how normal she is.” It’s all about context. Next to Jack White I’m relatively normal but really I have at least two trunks of eccentricity strapped to my back at all times. But everyone’s eccentric in some way aren’t they? Even blandness is a type of eccentricity.

2. I am visiting my friend D who is in a new apartment after having to let go of the house she lived in for 15 years, where she mostly raised her son, where her marriage didn’t last. I have never seen this apartment before yet I walked in the front door and was home. Who decides who is a home for you and who isn’t ? There’s no guarantee that where your parents is will always be home. Like my father for instance. And my mother too.

3. Last month I was supposed to write poems about place. I didn’t like it. It was hard being a beginner again tripping over my fingers, my language all the time. No, that’s not true—at the very beginning poems came easy. And in the context of what I was able to do then, they were pretty good. It was only when I really learned how to write poems that everything became hard. And anyway what I learned last month is I don’t want to write poems about place but I want to write poems about my father who’s been missing a long time.

4, here’s a story I want to tell in a poem: it’s about how my parents lived in Guyana but I was born in Trinidad. It had something to do with voodoo maybe or bad neighbors or old grudges or my mother and her mother. The first thing my father gave me was his anger. For 6 weeks he stayed in his place—Guyana—and I stayed in my mother’s—Trinidad. I’ve met him since then, of course, but he still hasn’t welcomed me home.

5. I knew I wouldn’t want to write 5 more things so I hedged my bets early. We all only have one true story, anyway, don’t we? One story, many ways of telling it. Like the way an imaginary story about dating a rock star is the same story about a father who is a present absence or an absent presence. And a story about being eccentric is the same story about how every time I see D she holds me hard and later I look at all her books over and over again, even the ones I’ve already read, even the ones I’ll never read.

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Things I Can’t Do

Paulette Beete - 007I

…Take photos as well as Carrie Holbo.

Wind film around the reel in a darkroom

Drive a car

Stand in high heels

Wear a size 6

Remember all the words to my early poems

Remember all my passwords

Memorize “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Take back that missed chance I had to see Prince

Start over at the beginning

Forgive easily

Give up chocolate for ever

Like soy milk

Balance my checkbook

Tell you everything

Not think about him every once in  a while

Remember the steps

Do the Dougie

Understand all the words when British singers sing in their own accents

Forget all the bad times

Remember all the good times

Count to ten in a language that’s not English, French, Spanish, or Italian

Tell Dija I’ll sing at her wedding

Tell Carolyn and Dave we can do something else

Tell Kevin I’ll go to the prom with him

Let Sedrick comb my hair

Forget Christophe’s birthday

Understand why you did that

Drink like I did when I was 25

Not draw that guy that map cause I’m drunk and so is he

Play the piano well

Make Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon

Make my friendship with her work again

Stop rewinding to certain scenes in Fish Tank

Throw myself all the way open

Things I Used to Be

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her best friend
her air quotes
her missed appointment
a woman with an inarticulate monster inside of her
a woman with a hole inside of her
a woman with nine tumors
a woman with a Zoloft prescription
fat
thin
blonde
“a surly brickhouse of a girl”
the tallest girl in my class
a far away sister
a girl who danced with monsters
a girl who couldn’t dance
the drunk girl at the bar making out with a guy while his friends laughed
the drunk girl going to the drive-through and waking up with a Big Mac wrapper in her bed
the drunk girl in the front row on house right
in love with him
a groupie for men who play the harmonica
a singer
an actor
a typist
a temp
a woman who didn’t buy flowers for herself
not 43
not employed
not writing
lazy
not ambitious
not smart
damned obzuky
Sweet Sue in “Sugar”
Sarah Brown in “Guys and Dolls”
a native and a Honeybun in “South Pacific”
someone who didn’t know about Marina Abramovic
someone who didn’t know about May Sarton
someone who didn’t know about Junot Diaz
a bad cook
a bad loser
someone who couldn’t bear it when plans fell through
someone who couldn’t bear it when the fat lady sang
someone who didn’t make lists

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