Monday, October 31, 2011

The Thing About

The Thing About

The thing about
saying the thing
about any thing

is it obscures.
All sense-making
does, except

those examples
I will exclude
here. Ignore

what you do
not need, sure,
to embrace

the singled-out
thing about
the thing.

The eye gets
grabbed when
it looks, gets

fondled, felt up,
falls in love
with one facet,

one sparkly patch
from the oceanic
fields of things

that exist, that
were formed
before you saw

them, long before
your eyes were
born. The birches

on one street,
and ridged

as unpeeled
carrots, or the
funny foliage

before that
freeway exit,
high ends and

vines folded over
the center, like
fingers raised

in praise of
heavy metal,
a fist with horns,

a tailless Y in
sign language.
The thing about

the more you
notice, the more

you look, and the
more you look
the more you

will have to
overlook, as you
have already.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Audio: With Love

This week, I had the itch to record some audio. So here's "With Love" for you, a poem I wrote last fall.

A while ago, I looked myself up at Klout, which supposedly measures your social media influence. It points out who you interact with most via social media, and mentions topics that you are supposedly influential about. It used to say that I was influential about "neurosis," "wine," "helium," and "mattress." Somewhat true (well, not the helium bit), I suppose, though I'm quite happy that the currently listed topics are a little more aligned with my actual interests (the site now mentions that I'm allegedly influential about "spoken word," "authors," "disorders," and still, "helium").

Some of my poems definitely have a neurotic tone to them. I don't know if it's necessarily a bad thing--I like to think that while they might sound a bit strange/obsessive, they are also playful and giddy (Woody Allen meets Peewee Herman). Is neurotic always negative, do you think? How would you characterize your writing voice?

Hope you enjoy the (very neurotic!) "With Love."
With Love by The Storialist

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Look for Migration

We Look for Migration

For months now,
I notice what seem

to be to leaves floating
and flapping in the air

over the freeway, above
my windshield and car.

Butterflies. Buttery
yellow and orange,

mottled brown.
I see them and drive

beneath them,
their small, fervent

thrashing. Winged
things always look

like they are leaving.
Above the butterflies,

clusters of black birds.
For months, I’ve read

the scattered tea leaves
of their flight as departure.

Where we look for
migration, we will see

migration. If we anticipate
what we think we know

is coming, we won’t be
as startled by what it

brings, the evening where
the afternoon once was.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Analytical Distance

Analytical Distance

Step back to see
what you thought you were seeing
clearly. Amidst
is a mist. Fetch the edges instead
of the center,
the yellowing silver maple, the ends
of its leaves
serrated like paper snowflakes,
the gray sky
behind all of this, and us, the year
and decade
we belong to. The century and those
adjacent to it.
The hemisphere, and the planet.
To learn more,
put your life on a table. Take your
hands away,
let it clatter against the table until
it stills. It will,
and then you can look. Crawl around.
Install yourself
in a high corner, between the ceiling
and the wall
where a waiting room television goes
and watch.
The first thing you feel. Notice it,
and walk
through it, backward, pointing out
what you have
been trying to tell yourself for years.
Keep moving
with the surety of a student tour guide
coaxing anxious
families through a college campus,
Here is the library
and the dining hall, and next, the best
dorm, the biggest
and most popular, evening quiet hours
gently enforced
and, of course, a real sense of community.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Experiments in Text: This Unearthly Pace

Thursday, October 20, 2011



Throw it away,
we say, but where
does this directive
lead. Where is
away. We know it
suggests distance
and removal, that
the thrown thing
is no longer visible
or retrievable.
In theory, it is gone
for good, forever
or for a very long
time. We trust
it will biodegrade
into nothing, into
matter smashed up
or reabsorbed into
the air or dirt.
We believe in
the dumpster.
We assume it takes
our trash from us
and does away
with it, undoes
what we don’t
have room for in
our homes, what
we refuse to
claim or tend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Great Plains

Great Plains

Every continent has its flatlands,
its great plains. Planned plain land,

green with grass or grain, without
close-set trees or oceans. Unmown

meadows, flat and vast. The veldt,
wide yellow belt of wildness. Fever

country, fields in which thousands
of people would fit, if they lived

nearby. Heath, moorland, pasture,
outback, tundra. Windy, hindered

lands, places in which to graze and
wander, to walk through while

wondering, Where should I go
so the wind can reach through me,

so I can rifle through life while
living it. Prairies help us hear

the quietness hatching within
us, help us feed our prayeries.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Freshening Up

Freshening Up

They put the new road
right on top of the old one,

spill blacktop on the street
and roll it smooth as if it

were paint, shiny, black.
Trouble is, in places we

can see the previous lane
markers, blacked out but

slightly raised from the road
like goosebumps or hives.

The fresh white paint insists
we drive between its lines,

but the way we used to drive
along this street still reaches

out to guide us. The road
can erase only so much of

itself. Even the newest batch
of drivers will notice how uneven

the road’s skin is, as their cars
push into the new road and

the roads living beneath it,
blacktop, brick, and dirt.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Experiments in Text: Precious Moments

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How You Can Tell It’s a Playground

How You Can Tell It’s a Playground

Manmade archipelago, a low, clustered
city of materials, red plastic and steel.
Green turtle sandbox, sand in the shell.

Yellow seesaw with red seats. Slide
with bumps molded into it, an ode to
warped journeys, and the black rubber pail

of a baby swing dangling from two lengths
of chain, each clutching the seat with a free
hand. Mulch, and mulch dug out where

feet go, under the tire swing, at the base
of the slide where the kids collide with
the ground. Fence around it, and a gate

that you can unlatch and push to open.
Paved path nearby, leading there or through,
and a school that can be walked to, or

a daycare. Thick-skinned structures that
want to roughhouse, gently. You can fall
here, and be hurt only a little, a knee

bloodied or bruised beneath unbroken denim,
palmfuls of splintered mulch. Jump. Climb.
Run. We’ll help with the consequences.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Precious Moments

Precious Moments

The moony eyes of Precious Moments figurines
ogle the swelling crowd on the other side
of the glass. From the neck down, the shop

is peachy. The Royal Doulton ladies simper on
their glass shelves, the hems of their gowns
swirling around slim ankles. The fat faces

on the jugs leer with customary drunkenness,
and ceramic puppies pause from gnawing
at your slipper, the very picture of adorable

guilt. But the red neon sign, Alan’s Collectibles,
and everything above it is on fire. Flames
chew through the green awning and roof

patiently, and shreds of the blackened canvas
drift down like foliage. Framing the fire,
but unaffected by it, the orange and red

leaves of neighboring trees, and, of course, people,
standing still to watch the fire, holding out
cell phones like torches, pointing them up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011



Do it A.S.A.P., ASAP,
as soon as possible,
or A.S.A.H.P., as soon
as humanly possible,
start completing this task
while I am speaking to you.
Do it A.S.A.P., A-sap, ace-app,
eight-zap. The sooner,
the better, even now would
be too late, but acceptable.
Act now. I don’t mean to
panic you, but you have
three minutes starting now.
Hurry up, but get it right,
to show you how serious
I am I have omitted most
of the letters. Let your
eyes or ears scan the words
for a corresponding meaning
that beeps into being
in the cash register of your
mind. Speaking only slows
us down, the process, so
listen faster. Hurry up,
hurry the hell up, the hell
of being told there is no
time to respond so do it
now, do it now, with every
breath you take you could
be finishing this task.
What are you waiting for.
Really, I’m asking you,
what thing do you need
to start. Haven’t you already
started just by picturing it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Structurally Sound

Structurally Sound

How softly should beginnings begin
so they mark a shift in sound, yet
do not startle you away, listener.
First silence, then the first stirrings
of intended noise. Fingers lifting to
strings, oxygen sucked into a mouth,
numbers. One two three, two two three,
the song is here. We can step into it,
inhabit it, its voice feels familiar.
The chords, the walls. The melody,
the light, and harmonies for windows.
We want to live inside of it, to bask
in sound waves. If we can stay here,
we will never die, will never not know
that plain objects possess magic
that we activate, the silver stapler,
the glossy calendar, the brick building
against the gray sky, these can shimmer
with longing when we look at them
with the right eyes. Generosity, yours,
calls out, and every sound comes
inching out to greet you, the tambourine
and the hands that hold and collide
with it, the obedient guitar strings.
The chorus, a succession of beds
for you to choose from and climb
into. You know this will end, that
minutes will paddle faster and faster,
the song will retreat as you chase it,
transpose itself into a higher key,
beatific. The gospel choir, an aerial
view of what you will soon return to
as it approaches. See how natural
endings are, the outro croons,
as a whole house scuttles away,
dragging the block behind it
like a billowing, sparkling nebula.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Video: Light House

I'm very happy to share with you this video poem for "Light House."

The footage was shot at Rooms to Let II, a temporary art space created and curated by Melissa Vogley Woods. Melissa selected artists to create installations in each room of a house, and showed the amazing creations last Saturday night. Lucky for all of us in Columbus: Rooms to Let is holding a closing reception tonight, from 4-7 PM(click the link for location and details).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Do Not Take This Medicine

Do Not Take This Medicine

If you are pregnant, or are actively seeking
pregnancy, or are even picturing
yourself as a pregnant person, the yellow dress
with the empire waist you could still
wear, all the extra fabric gathered up when
you wear it now.

If you are prone to depression and feelings
of loneliness. To not deleting
voice mail. To forgetting how old you are.

If you also take other medicine, or if you are
allergic to chocolate, or oxygen.

On an empty stomach. Because we’ll know
if you’ve eaten. We designed
this pill to self-destruct if, when it tumbles
down your throat, it ricochets
around the lining of your stomach, unable
to rest and sink in.

From strangers. From doctors who are acting
a little strange, shaky hands
scratching tree branches onto prescription pads.

If you cannot say how sick you are. If you
cannot rate your pain.

If you have a heart murmur, or if your heart
murmurs to you what it wants
or doesn’t want. Ask your doctor if your
heart is healthy enough for
what you are feeding it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Narrowing It Down

Narrowing It Down

In a room full of black cats,
I know I could find mine,
but how long would it take me.

I know her face, her mouth,
her extra toes in front
so she seems to be wearing

oven mitts. This will never
happen, me locked in
a room with forty other cats,

the floor teeming with shiny,
dark creatures, some
authority demanding I select

and retrieve my animal from
the flock. I test myself,
hypothetically. How would

I respond in this fantasy, after
the panic, the ground
roiling around me with black fur

and claws, limbs and tails
and teeth, yellow and
green eyes dotting the shadows

like a mess of Christmas lights
plugged in, fizzing
light. Narrow it down, I coach

myself in the imagined chaos,
and then speak to them
to see how they behave. Let

them bite you. I will find her
eventually, as long as
I chant, Take as long as you need.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011



E-Z Keyz and Lox. E-Z Cleaners.
Hertz Carz: Let Yourz Be Ourz.

Why. Z’s in for S’s are repulsive,
twisted the wrong way, sticking

to the teeth as they buzz out the
ends of words. The sound is right,

almost, but heavier, scratching up
the voices dragging it out. Visually,

even, it is grotesque. The eye’s
stomach churns at the scissored

version of the word. Easy, those
hills you like to drive through,

the meandering freeway, goldenrod,
green fields, the end of the y dangling

down like a cat’s tail as it sits
on the window sill. E-Z slices

out two vowels, tacks the capital
letters together with a hyphen,

scotch tape. A botched surgery,
suggestive of an eye chart, of

weakening vision, an amputated
alphabet. This is not what we want

from experience, life balled-up
and hollowed out, a one-stop shop

so we can get in and get out, forget.
But ease, we do long for that, and

the acknowledgement that when
things break, parts of us must halt,

must ask strangers for repairs
that happen carefully, gently.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pick Up Sticks

Pick Up Sticks

Baby, I like how you
are assembled, one atom

snapped into another
like tinker toys. Tight genes,

baby. Dominant, too.
Where are my manners,

I suppose I haven’t
learned them yet, or they

haven’t stuck. Your
skin is the color of band-aids,

freshly unwrapped,
you smell like My Little Ponies,

like sugary, pliable
plastic. You could camp out

in my love for you,
because it is in tents. Pillow

forts and night lights.
Sleepovers. You are so fine,

baby, do you know
you are going to be just fine.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.