8/31/11

Laura Solomon

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALICE B. NOTLEY

If you want to become a genius first you must be born. Then you must sojourn in Paris. Perhaps that sounds easy, and you are thinking that you too might become a genius but that’s just sound. The truth is many papers must be filled out. All geniuses have a gift for paperwork. This is well documented. The paperwork, completed by the genius in a neat hand, arrives gracefully upon the grumpy desks of the right official people. These official people are then free to reject your papers but do not because you use the word arrive. If you are a genius your papers will not be lost or thrown away but will continue to circulate indefinitely as they should. Neat handwriting is highly prized in France. In France school children with bad handwriting are consistently failed because their minds are clearly disorganized. You should make handwriting a daily practice. Then you should go directly to the Louvre. Fortunately the Louvre is located conveniently close to the Prefecture de Police. To become a genius you must go to the Louvre once a month and visit the same rooms. You are free to choose which rooms but those rooms should include several from the Italian Renaissance. French is a nice language to speak when you’re not learning Italian. In fact many Italian geniuses speak it at parties in Paris. To become a genius in Paris you must attend many parties at which no fewer than four languages are spoken. When asked d’où venez- vous? you must not admit to being American even if this is true. Otherwise you could be placed as a curiosity item in the Louvre. When leaving the Louvre, party or metro, make certain no creepy men follow you. Creepy men are not geniuses despite appearances and the long and sad history of genius. If on the metro a creepy man sits too close to you do not be afraid. Simply say est-ce qu’on peut avoir un peu de place? and look offended. Everyone in France watches football and so should you. When France plays do not say allez les bleus! That’s going too far. It’s true you may need some money to become a genius. It’s true that if you are not wealthy then you will have to work won’t you. Perhaps you can develop a thrifty lifestyle. Baguettes cost one euro each. If you make 740 euros a month that’s 740 baguettes. Do not be afraid to take hundreds of pictures of La Tour Eiffel. All geniuses understand why every day hundreds of pictures are taken of La Tour Eiffel. La Tour Eiffel resembles both a pretty penis and a fancy lady with four legs and frilly underpants. Once I read a book about the gender of genius. It was interesting but unimportant. All geniuses know the difference between interesting and important. As in, that sentence may not be interesting but it’s important. Or, this poem is not important but interesting. Or, becoming a genius is neither interesting nor important. You get the idea. Many geniuses however do not or at least not right away so write until they do.

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TREE

through the window of your room I can see
a tree there growing
the leaves wink
the branches sing
of arms that are opening
a secret door inside the wall
come says the tree
and you belong with me
and would you like tonight to climb my boughs

behind the door inside the wall
through the window of your room I can see
the tree’s heart collapsing
like a bad lung
its good lung
keeps on breathing
come says the tree
and points at the good lung
its boughs are eyebrows raised in anticipation

and there are blankets on the bed
the tree is so cold it says
it might die if it doesn’t grow
if I don’t climb
through the window of your room

and gather its roots
and water its heart
and become its blood
and make its bad lung balloon again
with hot helium breath

and rise rise rise
high into the brainlike branches
to the top of the canopy where one can see forever
past the hairs on god’s head
toward the split-ends
of the universe—everything
I can see everything Tree

Tree are you there

are you there?

Laura Solomon lives in Athens, Georgia. These poems are from The Hermit (Ugly Duckling Press, 2011).

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