Friday, December 30, 2011

Experiment in Text: Clover

Thank you for reading this, now and always. A very happy new year to you, full of pale green things...

Thursday, December 29, 2011



The ashtray on the porch
is a houseplant that died.

The cigarette butts look
like the chewed-up stubs

of pencils. In the gaps
between the trash, leaves

small and round as an infant’s
nails. Clover sprouting up

by the half-handful, some
sprigs already strong. You

didn’t water them, but you did
leave the ashtray in the rain.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Next Door

Next Door

Through this door,
another room
and another door.
Another room
through it, more
doors. Assume
every hole is a door,
each space a room.
The gaps in the floor
stand open for you.
You start to look for
the final room,
the exit, the porch,
even a solid broom
closet that can’t pour
you into a new room.
You meet others, for
whom endless rooms
are exhilarating, or
others who assume
that the architecture
knows best, the rooms
are a benevolent force
offering to us new
finishes and textures.
But neither plaster, nor
marble, nor stucco rooms
end your search for
the end of the rooms
or a roomless door.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bad Posture

Bad Posture

Dibs on the broken chair,
the one with the slipped
disc in its lower back.
I know how to hold my
body while sitting in it,
how to allow for the bad
posture of beloved objects.
The fickle deadbolt, stubborn
in winter, easygoing in
spring. The drooling
coffeepot, whose chin
I mop with the yellow
towel with a charred
splotch in one corner.
The gleaming car with
one scratch in it, that car
calls to me. Not what is
wholly ruined. Not what
won’t run. But the chipped,
the scuffed. The runt.
The stuff that lets you see
how it has been touched.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Long Time No See

Long Time No See

When was it that
we last saw one

We use our whole
conversation to
uncover when,

picking through
events and dates,

the times we did
not meet by

and discarding
them, pulling
the peanut

shells with no
peanut inside
from the bag.

It is satisfying
to sort the years
by talking

to each other,
each comparing
our skulled-up

versions of how
we’ve forked
over time.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Experiment in Text: Unsummoned

I think I was drawn to this image because it is so NOT of the season (I guess that's not entirely true....Hanukkah is "The Festival of Lights," so "The Festival of Pyrotechnics" is just one cognitive door down...). I do like imagining this as a holiday card, though...

A very happy holidays to you, whatever it is that you celebrate! I hope you are enjoying the people and things that you love!

(The text in the image above is from "Unsummoned,"---here is the full text.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Just Us Chickens

Just Us Chickens

The you is implied
in any sign, STOP,

you, or hey, you,
this street is called

Liberty Street and
wait for pedestrians,

their human legs
on which they pedal

and propel themselves
across the concrete.

What pronoun would
signs use if they

could, maybe we
or the omniscient I.

What’s the POV
in this story, a student

once asked me,
stripping the letters

from the phrase
fluidly, as we drag

wrapping paper
through the legs of

sharp scissors to cut it.
To ensure privacy,

please turn lock fully
and pull to check,

the sign on the back
of the restroom door

roots for your
modesty by keeping

everyone else out
of the room with you,

grammar curtseying
and tripping over its

skirts to protect the
bond it feels with you:

intimacy so pure that you
mistake it for being alone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let Me Look At You

Let Me Look At You

Stand up against this here
wall. Were you always this
tall. I’ll show you, put my
hand where your head is

now. Step back, and look:
your height, how much space
for your body to rise. This is
how others experience your

presence, I wish you could
feel this. The mirror places its
heel over you, squishes,
invents a version of your face,

flipped, flattened. Can you
blink when I do, stare and
think at time so it steadies,
gripped in your open lashes.

Take a look, we say, as we
might reach for a wall, a
light switch, the emergency
brake, to pull and release.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Consult

The Consult

Doctor, it hurts when I do this,
but I can’t stop doing it.

All habits lead to injury,
eventually. Running weakens

the knees, and reading melts
your eyeballs into hazel stew.

Ew. Even the perfect body
is disgusting, intestines and

blood and hair. Hold on to your
stomachs, it is natural to be

repulsed by the matter splashing
around in you, unceremonious

as a child kicking water from
a fountain, shrieking and giddy

in this new knowledge: look how
much I can do before I get in trouble!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Experiment in Text: Eye Contact

Something about those black cows on a green hill, right? Much love to you and your corneas this weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2011



A path. A stripped-
off stripe of lawn
with the grass gone,
dirt exposed. Gravel
over top, or rock,
or mud. A place
that tells us where
to cross a field
as if it were a
river. A scar we
give to the ground
by pressing down
on it with our feet.
We drag our bodies
around and rubble
trails behind us,
a shadow, a tail
of rattling dust and
debris, plumage
loud as the cans
strung up behind
a sedan proclaiming
Just Married!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eye Contact

Eye Contact

It’s not that the airplane is small,
but that it is far above us.
The sky is not a tarp, not a blue line
suspended across the top
edge of a sheet of paper. It isn’t even
blue, but appears that way
because of the atmosphere capping
the Earth, the planet’s cornea.
And your cornea. This place is strewn
with corneas strung up before
us like wet bedsheets pinned to a line
stretched through the yard.
Eye contact lets us speak privately,
walkie talkies with channels
that seem silent to all but us. Do you
copy. Honk if you hear me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Attentiveness Is Currency

Attentiveness Is Currency

Limping grocery cart
in the store, and the one
full of trash in the park.

Tangled mess of lobsters
in the supermarket tank,
yellow rubber bands
ringing their claws.

Delicate plastic for
the produce, how we
shake some air into it
to open it.

Chanted needs hovering
in the mind: pepper
pepper pepper.

Voice from behind
the milk that we hear
when we open the case,
I’m tellin’ you, man.

Coffee shop within
the store. Bored barista
adjusting muffins.

Encoded fruit, every
orange numbered.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What Do You Take Me For

What Do You Take Me For

Equally, my cat bats
at the rubber band

I hold above her
and its shadow on

the off-white carpet.
Both seem to reach

for her, then recoil
from under her paw.

The moon glows
when we look at it

through the darkness
at our end, even though

gray rock does not
make light and spill

it down onto us.
We don’t respond to

the thing; we respond
to what it looks like

to us. What do you
take me for, every

circumstance asks, and
we answer by reacting.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

For how many hours, total,
have you showered.
How many inches of hair
have you sliced off
and let fall. Self-maintenance
is manageable as
a small component of the day,
but if you collected
each sliver of time in a pile,
what structure could
house it. We could fill canyons
with nail clippings
and individually dislodged
strands from our
eyebrows. Getting ready is
a ritual. How will
our bodies and faces appear
to the world today.
Which plans call for the most
We must make ourselves
presentable, must
take responsibility for the
bruisey stripes beneath
our eyes, the texture of skin
and edges of nails.
When you do your hair, do
translates one way
for you, another for me. Do
not rush. Put on
your face so we know who you
are, and let us
take a good, long look at you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011



My lucky fill-in-the-blank.
How does an object earn

our devotion, and how come
certain items yield favorable

outcomes. The heavy clusters
of green plastic grapes dangling

from my earlobes, chosen in
fourth grade to help me pass

my math tests, which,
apparently, conjured three

separate and unexpected fire
alarms in school. You don’t

know a belonging is lucky until
something good happens while

you’re holding it. The blue
guitar pick on the floor of

the post office, waiting for me.
When I drink from the coffee mug

with my name painted in black
script across it, the day will be

good, or will improve. The trick
is to recognize the good luck charm

amidst the junk surrounding you,
the gold lamp with its belly full

of a genie in a headlock versus
the gold lamp full of nothing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Toys Are Us

Toys Are Us

Toys. Figurines. Dolls
and plastic animals,

hollow, pliable, or stiff
and jointed, as if

life equals limbs that bend.
Hair helps us pretend

that toys breathe when
we touch them, and then

lose consciousness away
from our hands. If they

could reason, they might
see us as gravity, or night,

or hunger. We happen
to them, dance and spin

them around the room,
and let them drop. Zoom

back in time, to the earliest
people: blade in one fist,

rock or clay in the other.
They’d chip a tiny mother

from the stone, or bash
a bird into it. Materials thrash

about in our hands, while
we whittle them down, file

them into totems, our copy
of a being. We are sloppy,

inconsistent, see them as real
and not real. We repeal

their existence when we need
to. Toys and stuffed animals feed

our first experiments in truth
and desire--the dolls of our youth

are pets, children. We call
to our toys, and they all

leap up, paw at our jackets
and faces. The racket

of our own loneliness is loud.
We crave a friendly crowd,

smaller than us, but the same.
We carve them, make a game

of choosing their dresses and
homes, their dreams. They land

at our feet, and we’ve forgotten
we made them. When I was given

my first Barbie, at age five,
I knew that she wasn’t alive

but I could not reconcile her brand
with who she was, couldn’t understand--

But what’s her real name, I kept
asking my parents. I couldn’t accept

any answer. She is a Barbie, so
what’s her real name. Do you know.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Video: Reading at Skylab

Happy December, everyone! On Sunday night, I gave a brief reading at Skylab, and then showed a few video poems (thanks so much for having me, Skylab mad scientists!). I wanted to share two poems with you, especially: "Your Neck of the Woods," and "Pressing Ghosts."

Hope everything is going well in your neck of the woods (and not too cold!).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Caring for Your Memory

Caring for Your Memory

Jog your memory
daily, open the screen door
for it when it whines.

Learn to listen for it,
figure out its sounds and
how to translate them,

its cautionary squeaks
and exhausted thumps. Don’t
forget to feed it, make

a note to refill its bowl
and leave yourself a voice mail
saying read the note.

Your memory will
become muscular according to
how you play with it,

huge haunches
but weak knees, or long-limbed
and limping. You will

always injure it
by what you do. There are
consequences for how

you call to it and
reward it, how and why
you scold it, bad

memory, horrible
memory. It isn’t what it used
to be, nimble, limber,

a climber. You have
been training it to dance alongside
you without any rest.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.