It seems a good way to get to know a person.

Send me pictures while you are away.

Of all this nature you long to return to. Of the things that make you miss the city.
Show me the dirt you grew from,
your well-trod paths,
the back alleys frequented in your youth.
Your most familiar patch of sunlight.

I’d venture to guess that you have your
initials carved into a tree somewhere.

You said your favorite color is green,
show me the precise shade you were imagining. 

On getting back into it, or getting out of it, or something of such a sort.

I went looking for a muse in a crinkle-eyed architect with affection for hard white lines and poured cement. I stumbled across a red haired charmer studying data security who says she “mostly dates men”. I fell back into the safety of my husband who doesn’t live here anymore. At some point, I have to stop calling him that, husband.

I spent the afternoon on the eve of turning 32 playing poker with 5 people who didn’t remember the rules, betting with blueberries.
I learned to skip stones today. I swam in the river.
I ate a cherry so ripe it bled down my palm while I moaned at its sweetness.
I had a day of blissful, childlike joy.


I did not get sunburned.

The crinkled hazel eyes looked at me and said,

“I have a problem with the color red”

“I can’t look at it anymore after so long staring at screens. For example, that car, if the sun were hitting it I couldn’t even look at it.“

And what am I if not the woman in the red dress?

Evidently, I am an acquired taste.

When I awake on my birthday my husband won’t be there, but he’ll visit for breakfast and some performative cooking. Some obligatory romance. 

I‘ll be sad tomorrow, feeling stupid about the things I said.

I feel foolish already, and full of regret, and uncomfortable with silence. And somewhat ashamed of my bright colors.

 But I did not get sunburned today.

And perhaps it would have been better to have ended the night early. But I am glad I got answers. These days, my heart’s dalliances are more and more fleeting. They just don’t make them like they used to, and so on. 

Alessandra and the Great Glass Elevator

This post is meant to be read while listening to this song:

You know, when I moved here- it was the elevator that I really felt in love with. It’s bizarre, obviously custom, shoved into a corner. It’s triangular inside.
It’s walled in glass on three sides,
and you can see out the window into the apartments across the atrium as you go up. You can see where Daniel and Rene, our only English-speaking neighbors, were at last able to change the blinds Rene said she hated the day they moved in.

The  elevator ride always made me feel like this was all some great glamorous adventure. To live in Vienna, spitting distance from the Opera house. Inevitably, every single time I went up in the elevator to our fourth floor apartment (fifth floor by American standards), this song would get stuck in my head.

It’s been an adventure indeed, perhaps not the great one I imagined, certainly not in the way I imagined it. Certainly it doesn’t seem to have much of a happy ending at the moment. I take the elevator up to the apartment these days, on the rare occasion I have braved going outside for fear of the virus. And I come home to an empty apartment, just me and the walls, and a pile of homework and unfulfilled dreams.

What a secret it seems I am keeping, but barely. What a glass elevator it seems I’ve built around me.

“There is no life I know, to compare with pure imagination.”

Cliché discussion of the weather, and a window looking out on to nowhere.

I love rainy days, I do. I prefer thunderstorms. Actually, I love thunderstorms and I am neutral about plain old rain- it depends on the temperature. It depends on the company, the evening, the street cleaning and the neon reflecting and the particular awning one takes shelter under. The I’m just here for a burger and to dry off, but thanks for the drink. The cash pocketed for a third of a cab ride from 60th to Brooklyn, laughing all the way.

And to think what he would think of any of the men, of all these men. And me. And to think what he would think of me.

And the roof tiles opposite my quarantine chamber are slick with rain for once, the rusted green metal drain tapping about and I am pretending to read. I am pretending to be doing something worthwhile. I am actively avoiding you. I’ve been thinking about what I want, and it isn’t to hurt you. That would have been simple, nothing about this is simple. I still.

Regarding the unfathomably gargantuan 12mm spider residing in the courtyard.

I want you to know that I killed the giant spider
who has been living by the elevator window for months now,
coming and going and existing
in her orange-and-black and
increasingly terrifying fashion


far too close to the mailbox.


At least, I think that I killed her.

I came at her with the edge of a cardboard box
and she dropped
to the cobblestones.
At least, that is what I hope.

Perhaps, she ran up my sleeve
and she is in my hair now,
waiting.
Perhaps, her thousand servants are now congregating
for the sole purpose of plotting my demise.
They are laying out maps and dealing with issues of nepotism
and who is really the first born son of a thousand and so on.
I can only hope their diplomatic issues hold them at bay for some time.


I have no idea what she has been sustaining herself on
for all these months,
since August,
through Christmas,
and deep into winter.
Whatever it is,
it was likely rather meaty
given her voluptuous frame.

She’s a behemoth, truly.

She is most definitely crawling into the apartment,
and into the bed.
But before she inevitably kills me,

I just want you to know-
that I did this courageous thing for you.

Two isn’t always better than One

I’m not going anywhere soon. But I took a bunch of tests which said I might, maybe, possibly, be going somewhere soon before long. So, If I’ve gone off anywhere, well not “anywhere” but into that particular-ineffable-where, I want you to know:

I went there listening to Satchmo’s  La Vie en Rose and Gene Wilder singing Pure Imagination. And at some point I was dancing, and I was thinking of you-each of you. And there are different yous in this letter, but you will know yours when you see it.

I thought about the nieces and nephews official and unofficial and the box of shiny-sparkly things I own. And each of you are getting something from that box, that you can someday give to someone you love. Because I love you so much I cannot imagine you could be capable of anything less than such pure love.

And, anyways, worst case I went out eating chocolate and peanut butter and horribly-HORRIBLY- attempting to sing songs from Gene Kelly musicals. And I never learned to dance well, but I sort-of-kind-of tried. And if I am gone my knees will be the happiest of all, they worked the hardest. They deserved the chance to relax at least.

And I don’t think I will see my mother yet, I think I may have a few more runs around reincarnation before I find her, but I expect to see a few dead poets and dead movie stars. And maybe one of them will teach me how to dance at last. And T.S. Eliot was probably really disappointing to meet, but I can get coffee with my grandfather and Salinger and talk about how much of a phony he was. 

And I am thinking about you all and hoping you are dumping the trash boyfriends or girlfriends who were weighing you down. Or abandoning the dating rules and telling the person you were trying to play hard-to-get with that you love them. Because they probably love you too, and if they don’t, please refer first sentence in this paragraph.

You should go back to school and get out of this shitty career. I’ll help you make that happen. 

And I hope you all get off twitter and TikTok for a bit. For a long bit. 

And you- many of you- take your medicine especially when your friends and family beg you to. And stop taking it when they beg you to stop. 

And I wish for you to figure out your faith-yours, not your parents. I spent this year attempting to figure out my god-shit and I didn’t find god but I found some good people, and that is just about as close as I think anyone can get. And I never learned how to shut up,  but I started learning how to try. Which is, well, it’s nothing really but them again so am I maybe? Or so I will be maybe? But it is good to shut up sometimes.  

Speaking of god, my god- lighten up. You’re all perfect mothers. Get off the internet, you’re fantastic. Really- and I had the best mom in the world and she was really crap at it sometimes. 

And uh, you-you. You know exactly who I mean, or you will when you read this: Go buy yourself the puppy. Even if it isn’t a shelter puppy because, you know, your allergies. And finish the writing. And see the aforementioned note on Twitter. And remember to eat breakfast, and let yourself enjoy it with whole milk. And find someone who likes music,  and also still wants to share risotto. It might be the puppy, who knows? 

-A

Some bits and pieces from my 30/30

 

I attempted to write 30 poems in 30 days during April this year, with mild success, and too much honesty to share it all here. But here are some unedited moments that were tolerable to share, though not good. Point is, I did my homework.

  1. (In)Complete guide to decorating a Wedding cake
Be kind
Be complacent. Be prepared
Have a hidden motive
a proven formula
Be nicer if the budget is higher
if they are getting married in a ballroom
Be baroque but not too much so
Be more expensive than the rest
Be Cocky
Bend slightly
If the are very nice or very cruel
or if they know somebody
or know somebody who knows somebody
Bend slightly,
your back,
your prices,
your rules
If they are wealthy and flirtatious
bend your morals
You charge 90 euros per hour for decor
on top of
the price of cake
you are the best of the best
you are on top of…something
Something great
and traditional
and historic
When the Nazis occupy your country
Host the head of the head of Hitler youth in your dining room
in exchange for sugar
Hide your waitresses in a passageway
between the kitchen and the bathroom
Harbor refugees and listen to illegal radio stations
listen to the truth
Tell lies
Hold your head high.
You charge 90 euros per hour of decor
This is not America
so you can only recommend against certain flavors
the soft cheesecakes.
The fragile things.
You cannot make them sign a form
that they won’t complain
when summer forces their wedding cake to bend to them
2.
Amazing how someone I’ve always known to have such low self-esteem
also believes he can literally perform miracles 
I told my husband it’s easier to deal
if you just pretend
there is no medication available.
That this is just how things will be
and sometimes it will be more this way
and sometimes less
but it will always be more or less this way
My doctor asked if he has mood swings.
Evidently mood swings are a good thing.
They give a better prognosis.
3.
He said he needed a magnifying glass to read it.
The problem isn’t my glasses
It’s my dry eyes and this damn
Tiny print
She said he had to find the app to call her back with video
That it should already be on his computer
He asked if Microsoft owned skype
And why the damn thing wanted him to make a microsoft account
He said his coworkers didn’t know the password was a combination of her name and her brothers
She said he was getting old.
4.

I am not a poet, I just journal
and put in big spaces.
     I am not a poet
I just have an affection for dramatic pause.
5.

I am sorry for all the things I will eat,
Especially the mindless ones. That don’t even taste good. The low fat cheese I ate three times as much of. The full fat cheese I was shoving in my mouth already on the walk home from the grocery store. I am sorry for all the times I went grocery shopping hungry. Or all the times I went with a plan, bought a garden, and watched it rot in the crisper drawer while I ate nachos. I am sorry for the inevitable split zipper, the ripped pants, the hundreds of unflattering photos. Especially the group photos. I am sorry. I hope I was better to you than I expect I will be now. I am not yet 30 . I hope you didn’t cry on your 30th birthday. I hope you feel still feel beautiful once in a while.
6.

On the night of the blood moon I make an appointment to go out and look at it. It is somehow always behind a building.
It is too cold to keep standing outside
 You’re shivering let’s go back in
On the night of the harvest moon I am mournful for all the summer days I spent inside.

Dear O,

Dear O,
I have sent this letter with excess postage.
With an excess of longing, of sorrow. It’s been a year now.

You see, approximately 0.5% of the men whom I pass on the street look like you.
This phenomenon has been going on for years now. It stems from a pathological desire to unexpectedly run into you, and say,
“Of all the sidewalks in all the towns in all the world, you walked onto mine.”
Or some similar feat of seemingly casual perfection.
Perhaps, a bit more more effortless, along the lines of,
“I have written down words with mild success, I have only you to blame”
or,
“Here, have a copy of my book.”

I haven’t written a book yet. You weren’t supposed to have died.
It’s rude, really. I was counting on you.
I saw one of you just yesterday.
In front of me on the sidewalk outside city hall. He turned and looked right at me,
then 
he crossed the street.
Or, he turned and looked at the traffic and I was there, waiting,
and he looked at me like he could have been you and this could all be an elaborate lie,
then he crossed the street.

O, I have been rehearsing.
I have been dressing for the occasion of our encounter.
I am not sure I have occasion left to dress up for.
I can’t believe that you are gone.
See, I. Well, I.
I think about you too much, really. Always did, as I am sure you know.
Knew, rather.

I begged you once not to kill yourself after you joked about it. It worked, I guess. It seems pointless now. Well, perhaps not. Well, you died anyway and it appears that you died without finding love. I hope that I am wrong. It’s not a question answered in an obituary.
He died without finding love.
It’s just not the sort of thing the papers are willing to say.

It said you were surrounded by family. That you had a brain tumor. Like a goddamn film character. As if you coughed somewhere in the first act of your life, or complained of a mild headache. As if we were all supposed to know. A brain tumor.
I mean, come on. 

You had a profile on a group for singles. It’s still there. You were in a group for writers, too. You are still out there looking for her. The book is still unfinished. Was it the one about South America? You know the story, how your car broke down in the desert and you abandoned it there. Was that the one? Was that how it began?

I wrote you a letter once to which you never replied. I saw you in person and you informed me that I had used excess postage. That every year the postal service runs at a loss.

You have reminded me of the importance of maintaining distance from my delusions.
You’d perhaps find all of this grief obnoxious, self-serving. Exaggerated. Dishonest. Cliché.
So how about some honesty, at least you didn’t die from cirrhosis.
I remember that time when you sat next to me in the lecture hall.
How your skin smelled like alcohol.
How your elbow brushed against mine.
-A