Tuesday, February 28, 2012

70 Thousand Million Million Million

70 Thousand Million Million Million

More stars in the sky
than grains of sand on every
beach, added together, even
the wet sand, even the granules
in the fibers on the floor of your
car, even the bits you rinse
from your legs, later, down
the pipes in your house. Those
count. The beach above us,
stars for sand, space for water.
Is the sky the sky to itself.
In emptiness, what looks
empty. Below, we keep filling
our cities. The fuller the land,
the fewer the stars.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Freak Magnet

Freak Magnet

A weirdo. A freak.
A stranger in the seat

next to me on the bus.
In the elevator, only us

for thirty-two floors.
The lady who stored

wadded-up Safeway
bags in every halfway

concave vessel: a shoe,
her purse, even a few

in her bra. The one
who called me hon

when I heard her sobbing
in the dressing room, Bring

me another size, would you,
hon, I’m okay, a few

hard days is al
l. An old
man telling me his whole

how-he-got-here bit,
making the pieces fit

grammatically but not
chronologically, he got

to this city in 1979, met
his wife in ’72, let

him think, his son is how
old, and he is now

a doctor, takes a special kind
of person not to mind

the sickness of others,
not like his brothers,

I’m agreeing now, Right,
, picturing his sons fight

each other so they could be called
strong or good or bright or tall.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Animal Person

Animal Person

Even if she has never seen a human,
when the deer sees you,
she is scared.

Even if you speak softly and sweetly,
voice diffusing like steam
through the trees.

Even if you slouch and move slowly
and smoothly, even your
eyelids are gentle.

Even if they call you an animal person,
if your friend’s shy dog
offers his belly.

Even if you dream that deer know
the secrets of the edge
of the woods.

Even if, in a driveway, you once saw
a dead deer strung up on
the basketball hoop.

Even if, after watching Bambi, you
wondered where every
deer’s parents were.

Even if you confuse venison for veal,
and someone tries to
comfort you by

saying, Those animals are born to
be killed, that’s why
we made them

Even if you wanted to be a veterinarian.
Even if you touched a deer
hoof lighter, shuddering.

Even if you have a deer tattoo. Even if
you fantasized about the
deer trusting you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Let Me Do This Thing for You

Let Me Do This Thing for You

My coat, flung over the puddle.
Your shoes pushing into wool instead of mud.

The letter you do not want
to destroy, but do not want to see.
Give it to me.

The airport. Your early flight.
Just remind me if what you are doing
counts as arriving or departing.

The person you must speak to,
but cannot call, you dread it so much.

The room full of people
you do not know.
I will go with you.
We will learn their names.

Tissues and tea and transparent teal gelcaps.
Rationed appropriately.

Wrapping the plates and glasses
in newspaper. Removing them
and assigning them to cabinets.

The thing you made.
Looking at it alone,
and then with you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Character Recognition

Character Recognition

It’s getting harder to prove you’re not a robot
to the computer. You can robot-proof
your website by warping the text like wrought
iron, twisting it. The troubled youths
of the internet have robot brains. They want
to sell you pills to enhance your desire
or suffocate your appetite. Their words haunt
comments sections, and to your entire
list of contacts, they offer a link to a video
of a teenage girl. There is no clip,
just a virus, a girl. The robot keeps a photo
of her to show around, a silver lip
ring, Bettie Page bangs, two sparrows inked
beneath her collarbones. He plasters
the internet with her photo and a bogus link
that leads back to him. He posts faster
and faster when he thinks of her, the copies
mean more beauty. Her pixels glow
more radiantly than others, he types, http://,
but thinks, Click Here NOW, sparrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012



Let us shape the land so we can look out at it. Or we can lift our hands from it and still shape
it with our gaze, as a pianist lifts her palms from the keys to better track melody on the page.

Let us smear Vaseline on our eyes, hold up our extended thumbs and index fingers to make
a frame. We can prune the dead grass from our vision, censor it. The entire forest could be

one topiary if you get far enough from it, one head of broccoli. Our eyeballs make walls
around whatever we stare at. Because we cannot see everything at once, we feel desire.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Visual Inspiration: On Art Resources

May I Offer You Some Visual Inspiration?

One question that people frequently ask me about The Storialist is where and how I find the images that help to inspire the poems. I wanted to share my resources and strategies. Looking at art and allowing it to feed my poems is a very natural process for me. I was already doing many of things I list below---now, there is just a bit more intention behind these actions.

Recon Missions (a.k.a. Going to Art Galleries and Exhibits A Lot)
Anytime I travel to a new city, I make sure to visit the museum (or known galleries) there. Here in Columbus, I go to openings and shows (including student shows). A few venues for seeing art I’ve loved, in no particular order: The Getty Museum, Obsolete, The Vancouver Art Gallery, Thinkspace Gallery, Rivet, OSU Urban Arts Space, The Wexner Center, The Hammer, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, The Contemporary Jewish Museum, The Museum of Photographic Arts, Yokohama Doll Museum.

Following Galleries and Artists Online
I let these galleries introduce me to artists I might like. I am especially interested in contemporary art, so I like to use galleries like record labels; when there is one I trust, I often like many artists that they feature. For example, a lot of the artists I love have shown work at Thinkspace Gallery. I am still on their mailing lists, and when they alert me to new shows, I have new artists to research.

Following artists online has been so helpful for me. I love noticing how artists structure their sites and arrange their work. I constantly bookmark artists’ sites that look intriguing (Right now, in my bookmark lists called “Artists to Check Out,” there are 64 links). When I find an artist whose work I respond to, I mine their “Links” section. This has really helped introduce me to new work, and to contextualize contemporary art a bit for me (for example, I know if a group of artists graduated from Art Center College together, or if artists identify with those working in similar styles).

Publications and Blogs
Ah, the vast universe of art blogs. When I first began linking to art on The Storialist (in 2009), I almost exclusively relied on these sites. Originally, I used sites like Booooooom!, Design for Mankind, Notcot, Artistaday, and Ffffound (although this one is trickier for finding the right credits for who made what).

I still visit those sites, but have also discovered others that really speak to me and my preferences. I am always adding to this list--right now, in my “Recurring Art Publications and Sites” bookmark, I have 37 links. Some of my favorites include Unless You Will, Lenscratch, Brown Paper Bag, NotPaper, 50 Watts, Art Lies, The Jealous Curator, and Squidface and the Meddler (there are many, many more--visit my new Art Sites and Publications links on the right side of the site, at the bottom, for more).

Asking and Learning From Other People
So. I’m always on the lookout for artists and resources to follow. If you are an art lover, how do you tend to learn about new work? Who should I know about?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monster Maker

Monster Maker

An eggman, hollow and light.
No angles on his body
so he has to keep rocking
to not fall.

The evil twin
of your childhood babydoll.
Under the skin of her forehead,
a grid of eyes.
You never realized that she was
watching you from your bed
until now.

Monsters in jolly costumes
that no one knows are monsters
except for you.
Most clowns.
Santa Claus.

Scenes of desperation
and loneliness. A horse sinking
into the ground, and only
one small boy trying
to save him, no one else
there to help.
The dragon
crying in his cave.

They are not hunting you.
They want to be close
to the one
who made them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Scared of Heights

Scared of Heights

You think you are carrying someone,
but really you are being carried.

Their hands, your ropes. Your body,
their trapeze. Are you scared of

heights because you don’t trust yourself
not to plummet off a cliff.

To dive better, jump on a board atop
a spring. Jumping from higher up

will make you fall faster. The water
will catch you. Or the lifeguard

with the little-boy face and the body
of a fireman. Catching can be

violent, think of how we snag fish
and fling them into our boat,

our air. Their world is wet, and up here,
we’re dry. In North America,

when it is cold, as it is now, it is warm
in Australia. Temperature is a

symptom of being sandwiched together
and spinning, a yo-yo gripped

and pitched, returning with equal force
to what has thrown it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

In Charge

In Charge

Let me check my horoscope,
we say, meaning, What is going
to happen to me. Which piece
of us is hungry here, growling.
How does the advice we read
feed us. It does, the words hint
at how difficult our week was.
Now is a time of confusion
and change, astrology says,
keeps saying. This month’s
memories spin and align
like slot machine symbols.
When you were born, which
stars dangled above you,
a mobile, and which stars
hid. A sign in an inside-out
decision. What we want is
to ask whoever’s in charge,
deity or planet: what would
you do if you were me. Be me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Video: Reading at Paging Columbus

Happy Friday (again), friends! Today I have some video footage taken at last week's Paging Columbus event (featuring readings by Terry Hermsen, Dionne Custer Edwards, and Jeremy Glazier).

To begin the night, I read "The Fire Cycle" by Zachary Schomburg. Warning: this poem is flammable. And inflammable. If you like Zachary Schomburg, check out his site and this book and this book.

Hope your weekend is incendiary (or flame-retardant, depending on the kind of week you had).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Nothing Is Wasted

Nothing Is Wasted

The college course I took in Clothing
and Textiles, useful for recalling

now the meaning of the word gamine.
How the girls in sixth grade would preen

before their lockers, spraying CK One
onto a brush or denim jacket, or Sun-

Ripened Raspberry right into their hair.
How certain girls would choose dare

over truth at sleepovers. The half-healed-
over hole above my navel, semi-sealed

and without jewelry. The swoony letter
I left in a boy’s car. The blue sweater

I buy again and again, only slightly varied
in proportion and weight. How I’ve carried

Japanese coins in my change purse for two
years because I like the hole cut through

the coin, and its raised chrysanthemums,
and also, just in case. The banana that becomes

more valuable when it browns, for bread.
The hours of sleep, and what I’ve done instead

of sleeping. The cities I’ve lived in and gone
away from. The money I gave to a salon

for the uneven haircut, the months I never
cut my hair before and after. The clever

joke I made once, but cannot retell.
The broken sand dollar. The lost seashell.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Plein Air

Plein Air

When we look out at the land,
it will always look back at us,
bottom-heavy. Nothing grows
from the ceiling down, or from
the sky. Give helium balloons
a day or two, and down they go,
like wedding guests dancing
to “Shout,” a little bit softer now,
softer, crouching lower and
lower. Give us enough years,
and our bodies shrink. On a
doorway in your childhood
home, a pencil flips around
and scrubs away a mark with
its nubby eraser. We can sort
everything in the universe
into two categories: stuff
or space. Stuff stays down,
space goes up. If the river
didn’t lie down beneath the
ground, and if the ground
didn’t stay so obediently,
how could we trust our easel
to stand up when we wanted
to paint the sky in the water
and the sky in the sky.

Monday, February 6, 2012



What does the cowhide hide.
The fact that it used to hold

a body, breathing, sleeping,
finding pleasure in sunlight.

Where does that knowledge
go, when we buy the rug,

bring it home, sliding it over
the wood, a brindled amoeba.

We can hide from the idea
that somewhere, there is a cow

missing its skin, wandering
ghostily through the fields

where it once muddled orchard
grass and clover in its mouth,

sweet, gluey. The cow was
rewound, unspooled. We need

to undo it far enough to forget
there was an animal born in it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Text-Based Art: Rothko Logic

Rothko on the brain, and Rothko in the sky (with diamonds...).

Happy weekend and February, friends!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

He Wants Out

He Wants Out

Looking down is
looking up. You know,
Rothko-logic, as above,
so below, horizon as
equals sign. Or as the
white space between
the dark bars of the
equals sign. The earth’s
crust as horizon. As barrier
between polka-dotted
fiery freedom and
the irony, nickely fist
closed round the center
of the planet. Which allow
for each other’s existence.
We can’t differentiate
between enormities, the
big, big ocean, the ocean-
sized one patch of sky
we are always mooning over.
As I’ve heard humans
say about their dog:
he wants out. No verb,
just the result, inside
and warm one moment,
then poof, the open air
and all the stars to stare
back you, walls for windows
and ground that swings open
like a screen door to the sky.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012



There isn’t a moist towelette
voluminous enough to clean
the world to our liking.

We wash our hands and have
to find a way out of the bathroom
without touching the door.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.