Stephanie Barber

some end of the year haiku for everyday genius

the end of the year
reminiscent of its start
swollen with the words

the end, here with words--
all worded up like the start
of this year, 'member?

this day reminds me
of a day just like this day
one year earlier

this last day last year
right here on the internet
also held in words

the words first and last
like worlds still undiscovered
waiting together

long thin greasy hair
surrendered mortality
the very last day

let's just admit it
sometimes negativity
is just the best choice

underwater dive
like in the glassiest springs'
tunnel to new year

sunshine city beach
with parades for joy and hope
in the coming year

Stephanie Barber recommends Jeju Island.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Adam Robinson

Trying to Read a Poem

I'm trying to read a poem by a particular poet. Any poem of his will do, but I can't remember who it is. Here's what I know about him:

He's male. I think he's British. I think there is an “A” in his name, though maybe not the first letter. I read a poem by him once, it had perhaps three stanzas, and I liked it. Perhaps he is from the late 19th century.

I'm pretty sure he isn't A.E. Housman, although I often confuse Housman with almost everyone. I thought his “When I was one and twenty” poem was by Hardy. I like that poem in spite of the fact that it makes fun of youthful conviction, which is a mean thing to do. Kids have to make their own mistakes, even in matters of love.

And anyway, how old was Housman when he wrote it? No more than 37, which is when he self-published it in his book, A Shropshire Lad.

Self-published! See, the manuscript was rejected several times. This I know from Wikipedia, where I also learned that the book's success is due in part to musicians who set melody to the words.

But I cannot think of a way to effectively Google, “Who is that poet I'm thinking of,” so instead what I'll do is wander attentively through the writers who spring to mind, and perhaps by the end of such mindfulness I'll connect to the one who is on the tip of my tongue.

Inexplicably, I can never remember the actor who plays in The Prince of Tides, Nick Nolte. It isn't that I confuse him with Gary Busey; that's dumb. And I have a very good knack for remembering the names of celebrities. And I like Nick Nolte and admire him as a great actor. But that I always flounder when mentioning him is a true thing.

This is not a problem that I typically have with this poet. It's only been a couple days that I can't remember his name. Prior to that, though, I may never have tried.

I can't remember why I read that poem of his. Perhaps it was for a class, though I doubt it. My poetry education is bad. It is regrettable. In the course of earning my MFA, I purchased fewer than ten books of poems for my classes. One of the books was an uninspired anthology. Most of the poems were American, light verse. One of the books was about the various forms available, with explication and examples. One was Robert Pinsky's The Sounds of Poetry

The most ambitious syllabus, for a class I ended up accidentally not registered for, included collections by Anna Swir, Yusef Komunyakaa, and a couple others I can't remember. I have them on my shelf but I have not read them. I've read that Plath poem, “Daddy,” like four or five times. “You do not do you do not do,” but I don‟t really like it. I only say this to show what my poetry education is like: we never once read it in school, anywhere.

There are four of us lined up at our desks at work. The Chinese guy is watching soccer on the Internet. The guy who once offered (in a friendly way) to fellate me at a happy hour is reading a copy of The American Organist, which is in fact a glossy magazine. The guy who's dog just came down with Hodgkins Lymphoma is working diligently. I'm wearing my friend's pants and trying to think of a poet. These days, working diligently consists of sliding a mouse around on a small pad.

Efficiency means you barely move your hands as you type. I have grown distracted, so I Googled “poetics.” Aristotle is not who I am trying to remember, but it is fun to let the Internet think for you. I do it all the time.

I tried to read “Daddy” again. Couldn't. Where will I stop next on this adventure? Might as well look in on Hardy, as I confused him with whom I confuse who it is I'm trying to think.

The Darkling Thrush” includes the line “In blast-beruffled plume,” which wholly justifies my day. But the poem doesn't smack of this day, June 29, 2010. It's hot outside, and sunny. Maybe the guy I'm trying to remember is very Catholic. I'm tempted, as I throw words on other words, to scour the contents table of some Norton Anthology, but it is too soon, too soon.

Yesterday I copied into a notebook that hammock poem by James Wright. The one where he describes his surroundings with lines like, “The droppings of last year's horses/Blaze up into golden stones” and concludes, “I have wasted my life.” It is extraordinary.

Perhaps now I will try to find out what Harold Bloom thinks about that trope. Nothing, apparently. At least, not from my cursory research. However, in Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds 9 (sheesh), Bloom does reference Wright's statement that Fernando Pessoa is “the true heir of 'our father Walt Whitman',” though it isn't clear if Bloom is referencing Wright's statement in terms of Whitman or Pessoa.

And at any rate, who is William Duffy—aside from the guy who owned the farm that brought James Wright to such crisis? I know his name. It's right there in the title of the poem, which, okay, is “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, MN.”

It's cool when poetry things happen in the American Midwest, as opposed to New England. But probably, after New England, then San Francisco, the middle states are the US's most poetry-concerned. William Duffy, it turns out, was a pretty awesome dude that got chastised for mentioning prostitution to his middle school students, and ran a poetry magazine with Robert Bly called The Fifties. He wrote rejection letters that would make Lee Klein, the Eyeshot editor proud, saying things like, “Your poems remind me of false teeth.” I got this from a website with the URL,, and if you care about poetry or friendship, you'll look it up right away.

In the Sewanee Review, James Wright's first book was compared to Keats, and Wright decided then to quit writing poetry. He didn't though.

Which reminds me of that chestnut from Rilke about a poet being a person who must write. I've always hated that. Flannery O'Connor said a writer is a person who can write, and that makes more sense to me.

I am no closer to remembering the name of the poet whom I want to read now. This net is too wide, perhaps, so I'm resigned to using “British poet” as my search term. He is not there. He is not Blake or Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth. He is not Rosetti, though I ought to read her. Why not? Her name is Christina Georgina Rosetti, she must be good.

I like her. I like how those people back then used to make points. I mean, arguments. There are four stanzas in “I watched a rosebud.” In the first, the speaker watches a rosebud bloom. In the second she watches a bird's nest with anticipation, but the birds orphan the eggs and they don't hatch. In the third, the conned speaker breaks the branch and nest from the tree, but in the fourth stanza she feels bad and reflects “what if God,/Who waited for thy fruits in vain,/Should also take the rod?”

Rosetti factors in Nicholson Baker's fantastic novel, The Anthologist, but my elusive poet doesn't come up once. That is odd, because Paul Chowder, the protagonist, prizes rhyme most highly, and this poet has complicated rhymes all over. Slant rhyme and end rhyme and all that.

My friend Joe just emailed me a new version of the song, “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine,” this one by The Dirty Projectors. I emailed him back about what I was doing, and that I was getting frustrated. I've been Googling all willy-nilly for a while but without result—except to learn that Bruce Springsteen may be the greatest Catholic poet. 

Joe named my poet in two guesses, though. At first he said Browning. I've not read Browning, at least not that I can recall. Or, in fact, I recall reading Browning as an undergraduate student, but it would be impossible for me to name one of his or her poems. 

How exciting, though, to have the mystery solved, and to be rewarded that all my clues were accurate. And how great to have a friend to help in the chase. 

That, I think, is the best part. Poetry ought to happen with friends, and all of these, they are my friends.

Adam Robinson recommends this performance by Meredith Monk and Theo Bleckmann.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Melissa Broder

Death Letter

I was a blues singer and then I died, wait
that isn't true I was never a singer.
I only know the art of the shadowside
because I am dead. The blues don’t just burst
from a river; they tunnel slowly out
of head hells. You need to have a big hurt
before you sing the insides of a melon.

A spirit is said to choose its muscles
and I picked mine down to the eyes. No one
would pin me for a tambourine; I never shook
in waking hands. I won't be a singer
in my next life either, I will only
feather my hair. A foxhole prayer
for second lives is let there be no songs.

Melissa Broder recommends this video of GG Allin on Geraldo in 1992. RIP GG.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


DeWitt Brinson

Poetry Is Dead

Abraham Lincoln, the poem, set the slaves free and did that really well. George Washington, also a poem, set America free from the wicky King of England, King Fancy-pants. Saint George and Mister Lincoln were nice to each other and never used swear words. Because they were poems, they are both now dead.

People on the road to death are on the path of poetry. Gandhi is an important dead poem. He freed the Indians and South Africans from the King of England, King Fancy-pants Jr. He knew he’d be a poem and wrapped himself in a sheet of paper from the get-go. He was starving, a lot.

See, poetry is so freeing. Poetry is the opposite of kings and their royal family. Poetry is a dead thing.

One day Desmond Tutu will be a great poem because he freed South Africans from Apartheid. Obama will be the first Black Mr. President poem. Obama freed us from having only white presidents but try as he might, he could not free us from having only male presidents--he left that for some other poem. Look in the mirror, is that poem you?

Albert Einstein won a poetry prize for having the best hair. Einstein is already a poem but he’s not a well understood one. Most poems are actually not well understood.

It doesn’t matter if their poem is understood. People don’t matter as much after they are dead but they mean more.

It is important to know that poetry is dead. It is even more important to know it is dying.

Somewhere out there is a new poem dying.

Look in the mirror, is that you?

DeWitt Brinson demands you read "Kindergarten pupils tell us how to cook a turkey" by he kindergarten students in the classes of Miss Briskey and Mrs. Geise from The Daily Item. Miss Briskey and Mrs. Geise are teaching the poetry movement of 2025.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Camilo Roldan

Camilo Roldan recommends this video by Brandon Downing.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Joseph Young

[click image to enlarge]

Joseph Young recommends "Thinning Carrots" by Peter Nadin.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Annie Guthrie

I want my face on top your face
so I can cry on it.

disillusioned with puppeteering
I climb inside your body

which you hold like a theory,
and try the numbers.

to find the estrangement counterfeit:
see mine eyeball greasing yours

Annie Guthrie recommends Monica Mody on, who she found out
about on, which is how she found out about this video.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Heather McShane

G: Volume 8: Page 386

“The Gregorian calendar interferes with laissez faire,” claimed Alan Greenspan. He theorized the establishment of this calendar, with its extra day in February every four years, increased the likelihood greeting card sales would exceed expected growth every fourth year, thereby giving a false impression of Greenpeace’s importance in the world, given that Greenpeace enticed potential member-contributors by sending them blank greeting cards and asking for charity money in return. Greenspan said, “All businesses use Gregorian calendar dates,” adding, “the government establishes these dates, and the extra day every fourth year is the ultimate government interference in economic affairs.”

Images, all X-ed out, of Greenpeace greeting cards flashed large behind Greenspan as he presented. A big, black X across a jumping whale, belly exposed. A big, black X across a clapping seal. Greenspan said, “There are businesses that could use that extra day in February every fourth year, but as it is, we can’t change history and, for example, make George Washington a Greek god. We need statues of real heroes. We should look to Greensboro. Greensboro, North Carolina, manufacturing and petroleum marketing center, named after American Revolutionary War officer Nathanael Greene. Greensboro. You may ask yourself: What about the extra 26 seconds an average Gregorian year in Greensboro? Well, the people of Greensboro don’t have their heads in the clouds. Greensboro. Insurance, electronics, furniture, textiles, all things that Americans need.” Greenspan paused for effect as an X-ed-out school of fish swam on the wall behind him.

“Remember the 1990’s? Economic expansion? Of course, this was after the explosion of Greenpeace’s ship Rainbow Warrior in 1985. Do any of you remember that? How much influence do you think I possibly had on anything?” An X-ed-out beach with a sunset.

Heather McShane recommends "When He Holds Out His Hands, Bees Stream from His Fingertips" at ucity review.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)



Things You Find on a Train

It’s a black man’s birthday. No, I did not give him head. It’s not like that. Sure, we rode the subway. Yeah, we talked. I ate a bag of Fritos, the kind you steal from a kid’s lunch bag. He had a piece of chicken, rotisserie. Don’t get all racist. He had got it from this other friend of ours we’d left back on the 27th St. platform who had been practically gnawing on the carcass groaning about how he couldn’t finish the thing and ‘just please take it’ and handed my friend the legthigh he’d cavemanned off with a grunt. When my friend took the meat the guy said, “Happy birthday, Kemosabe!” I asked, “What the fuck is a ‘Kemosabe’?” and that’s when the train came and I didn’t get an answer, just a shaking head full of chewing chicken corpse grease smile.

The black man with the birthday. Well, we rode that train with our food. Lamenting lack of drink. He wiped his hands on the bell bottoms of my jeans. Then wiped his face. We liked making people look at us. His birthday sounding behind everything: a jangly song. Lots of bell sizes, lots of tripping and falling clowns. I did not think about anything underneath his clothes but felt it coming close, the place in me that wants that.

The train sped. Filled.

He makes me laugh, the black birthday man.

I took some pictures of him with my cell phone. I have this app where I can add shit to the pictures: mustaches, animated sparkles, hearts, animal snouts, etc. I took one of his pictures so handsome and ruined it with a pointed birthday hat. When I showed it to him he guffawed so loudly and abruptly it scared the lady across from us. That’s when I broke. We were so high from our together, the birthday, the subway food, phone apps, our salt mouths, the clackety-clack of the train. From the way he was working his hands I could tell he was wanting to drown me. Not like that. Don’t take it that way. You need to know him first. I understood and head-butted him to bleeding. Matching unicorn bruises gashed Y-shaped cracks. Only one person stepped away then. The car was crowded. Nobody wanted to upset the solid of the space. Everyone was afraid to lose. But not us. We had nothing to.

When our stop came, the black man, his birthday a vein between us, and I, lifted our riot from the seats. Always one to upstage, I chanted a yell, “Kemo-sabe! Kemo-sabe! Kemo-sabe!” and he looked at me as if he were seeing stars for the first time. I kept it up even when “Shut up stupid bitch!’ even when, “Fuckin’ crazy ass shit!” even when he “Stop! I’m gonna piss myself!” because his laughing was so warm and long and I kept wanting it to come. I knew love right then. And, maybe I did give him head later. Maybe that was inside a package with a big bow and bright wrapping. Maybe that ride broke something that had been waiting. The pieces of it scattering on the filthy metal floor, me there on hands and knees picking them up, too important to lose.

xTx recommends "Once, We Were (Not) Troy Davis And Then We Were Something Else" by Roxane Gay over at The Rumpus.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Elizabeth Glass

Powerful Things Can Happen in Driveways

My dad proposed to my mom in her driveway. My sister lost her virginity in a driveway. And I, well, I lost something else in mine.

It was a sunny afternoon—perfect weather. The kind songs are written about. A happy blue sky, puffy white clouds, low humidity, temperature hitting the 70’s for the first time of the year. Everyone was outside. Kids squealed and played. Teenagers walked, laughed, and listening to iPods. Old people sat on porches, smiling and calling to one another across streets and alleyways.

I had my car on lifts. I had never worked on my car before, but before my buddy Dave shipped out to Iraq, he showed me how to change my oil. I was anxious to try it. It had been a nasty winter, but today was the day: My first solo oil change.

I called some friends, and a couple of Dave’s buddies, to come over that evening for celebratory beer to toast my new success as an oil changer.

I was still under the car when Victor arrived. Victor Woo, a big hulk of a guy, Dave’s best friend. I heard him coming; he was hollering heydy and all the old people and kids.

I tried to hurry once I heard Victor, so that I’d be done by the time he got there, but I was still under the car, tightening that last bolt to the oil pan, when he walked up the driveway.

“What’cha doin’, girly?” He belly laughed then slammed his arm on the car.

Victor was built like a sumo wrestler, and when his arm hit the car, the car shifted and started slowly coming off the lifts. He didn’t realize. I didn’t, either. But then, little by little, the car eased down on me and in spite of all in the neighborhood stopping what they were doing and coming to Victor’s cries, it happened.

I could hear the kids crying. The parents and old people came over to help. The teenagers even took out their earbuds. Everyone tried to lift the car off of me instead of pull me out from under it until it was too late and I was pinned. And then my life seeped out of me as the car pushed further onto my lungs.

And then I was gone.

But I also wasn’t. I didn’t do anything particularly good in life, so I can’t “go on to the light.” But I didn’t do anything bad, either, so no hellfire and damnation. So I hang around my driveway.

It’s interesting to see, over the years, what has happened in it. A woman told her husband she was pregnant. Years later, that baby told his fiancé he was enlisting. Lots of scraped knees, some first steps, bold kisses, and pivotal conversations in between, and since.

And one day I’ll do something either so good I’ll go on one way or so bad that I’ll go another. In the meantime I just wait. And watch.

Elizabeth Glass recommends Harry Crews on Writing Part 1 on YouTube.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Keith Nathan Brown


GO HOME! yelled the jesuit priest over the jukebox as she sprawled
across the pool table. While the failed poet on the barstool told of the

time an army of troubador ants came with a summons. And—at the
standoff—filled with rage and lament she screamed, and screamed on
for the chardonnay!

scream at the door
oh what a wailing

night hours fading, the ceiling becoming a darker mirror of
the music and a screeching
soprano that

won’t stop or someone will you please tie a rope across her ordinary
treatise of welcome. As with all of us: Welcome. Ideas, sifting on the
desk, discarded limbs and disembodied entities wait for a donor from the
waiting list, to adopt from jars of volatile radiance along the cryptic rack
of emotions while screaming—oh scream on—Scream for chardonnay!
kick in the door, oh kick Kick In

apparently, she is not concerned for the door

The poor door Give her the chardonnay It is of no use to you Your knobs
of brass and deadbolt are no match for this vapor on the rack, waiting to be
released like a storm into skin A balloon of skin inflating to the point of—
oh yes Oh Yes—Scream on for the chardonnay!

Ah, strange life enflamed
It is bizarre to have a body

To be a body To be in bed To be not asleep

she ... a fretted instrument of unstrung emotions;
and a sick piano-tuner he is
to want her love

she, so undesirable
he, so desiring

on the space, on top of our space: Your face, on the pillow drunk and
laughing at the noise upstairs, when you said,

‘It is beautiful, isn’t it? Our wants and our needs’

Your breath reeked of cigarettes. I turned and moaned into your

armpit, ‘Sleep . . . I need to sleep,’ and you turned without speaking but the
reply came pink as a salmon.

Keith Nathan Brown recommends "Free Architecture" by B. N. Landry at >kill author.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Sarah Levine

Herman at the Circus

I fantasize about setting mother’s hair on fire.
At the circus, in summer when the air is sweet,
peanut shells in pocket, watching the elephant
flick flies off her ears. Aprons in wind.

She creates a great wind just by breathing.
Gentle soldier with thoughts of the sea and
how it doesn’t matter like kissing someone when they’re asleep.

I wish I could take it back.
But awe is too big for my body and no one seems to notice
for somewhere a child is being shot from a cannon
and a field mouse is caught in the teeth of the three legged mutt.

Sarah Levine recommends "Jean Adler" by Rachel Glaser at Barrelhouse Online.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Lori D'Angelo

Buried Treasure

Clive Wilkins was picking his nose when he found a diamond in his left nostril. It even came with a tag attached.

The tag said: Diamond in the Rough.

He took the diamond, wrapped it up, and gave it to Melody Owens, the woman he had left for someone better. The better woman had since left him.

Melody took one look at the diamond, then him, said, “Oh, no, I couldn’t take this.”

She gave it back to him, and it returned to being just a wad of snot—cold and slimy in his disappointed hand.

Lori D'Angelo recommends "The Smoker" by David Schickler in The New Yorker. Lori blogs about stories she likes at

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Hiroshi Shinoda


That city in Africa
where everyone started laughing
one by one
and they couldn’t stop
no one could stop laughing
even to eat or drink
or breathe
I read about it
and dreamt it last night
they couldn’t eat or drink or breathe
and they couldn’t stop laughing
one by one
that city in Africa
and the silence
came in the night
and swallowed it up
that city in Africa
when the laughing stopped
everyone was gone
one by one
but in the dream all I could think
-- the dream last night --

Hiroshi Shinoda recommends "How to Eat an Oriole" by Anderson Holderness at>kill author.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Andrew Worthington

harry potter as a sex guide

i may have used the harry potter book series as a sex guide

harry was often brooding throughout the books
he had issues such as mortality and the fate of the universe that were worrying
but i wonder if his lack of sexual excursion may have also been a large reason
for his brooding

an asshole killed his mother and left a mark on his forehead immediately

i read the more romantic sections in "goblet of fire" over and over again
he even had a kind of hot date to the yule ball
but he just broods the whole time about cho chang
and then he kind of kills her boyfriend
or at least he feels responsible for his death

he is always too busy to bother

and the end of the series he kills voldemort
after coming back from the dead

and then it jumps forward 19 years
and he must have had sex because he has kids
and he probably has a nice house
and a yard
and he takes care of it
maybe even with muggle landscaping equipment
and ginny has a garden
and maybe even takes care of it with muggle landscaping equipment
but they might just use magic for all of the yard work

Andrew Worthington recommends Tim Peter's "My Voluptuous Delusion" at The Rumpus.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Summer Robinson

The Oranges

I knew something was wrong when the pregnant woman from work wanted to eat dried oranges out of a potpourri bowl. We circled her in the break room, leaning over the speckled counters and doing our best.

It was lunchtime. A few girls from accounting occupied the table nearby. They all wore blue cardigans and with the tips of their pink fingers played little games with their pearled ear lobes.

The boys from legal staggered in and out.

We were admin. We worked for execs.

And now the leanest among us was expecting her first child and cupping a bowl of potpourri like two handfuls of cold sink water.

"I don't see why not," answered one of us.

"It's just oranges," said another.

"It'll make you sick," said Craig, who was opening the fridge.

"It's just oranges," the pregnant woman repeated as if she'd thought of it herself.

Craig, who we called "The Salesman" even though he was an attorney, pried a can of Red Bull loose from his pack on the private shelf. We called him "The Salesman" because of the way his hair formed a smooth weft on top of his head and then curled into bunches at the nape of his neck, and because the suits he wore appeared flammable, elastic, underspent.

That's not to say I didn't go home with him. We all did.

Craig set his energy drink on the counter the way you might throw half a muffin into a crowd of pigeons on the street. We scattered, not trying very hard, while Craig eased the decorative air freshener from the pregnant woman's grip.

"It's got chemicals," he warned her. But she would not relent.

By the time of her first sonogram, she kept a dish of autumn spice as a snack on her desk. Craig left protein shakes and bottles of Smart Water, which she never drank. Craig paged the pregnant woman sometimes twice a day with small requests. He used officewide intercom. She always went.

I began to fear for her hostage as the cravings became more numerous and more intense.

At lunch, she scooped religious candles from their narrow jars before sucking clean the long wicks. The faces of Saint Elena, Saint Therese, and The Virgin of Guadalupe piled up in her recycling bin.

It was after Craig repainted his office from taupe to robins egg that I found her chewing on a tack.

The day the pregnant woman's husband came to visit, Craig carried around a miniature football for effect.

In the days that followed, he paged the pregnant woman not over intercom, but with a bullhorn instead. He later installed surgical stirrups on one end of his desk.

Eventually, Craig was dismissed and when he left, the pregnant woman, moments from deploying an emergency fire extinguisher into her mouth, leapt entirely into the cardboard box he was using to haul out the paper weights and silver pendulums and wood frame degrees laywers decorate their lives with. The pregnant woman looked enormous in the box and -- like the man reeling beneath her -- happy again.

Summer Robinson recommends "Running" by Michael Kimball at Housefire.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Christopher Cheney

Love Poem

The nightgown didn’t become translucent until the fifties.

My mother was born in the fifties. The first nightgowns

we see are usually our mothers. When I was born

my mother was told I was dead. Sometimes when

I’m touching a nightgown I think what if I were dead

this entire time, and death was getting up early

kissing my fiancée and shooting hoops in the park.

I think death is taken too seriously. Real ghosts

aren’t translucent. Real death is a private school

in Connecticut where we are all the headmaster’s sons.

Where we cut class and get stoned in the woods.

The forest is translucent when the moon is above it.

I guess, the forest can be a real badass sometimes.

Like when it swallows a man and wears him like a babydoll.

To honor something that’s not there. To bed with it all.

Also to be in a nightgown completely alone in Amherst,

Massachusetts. Now that’s translucence. That’s also love,

Or at least what’s left for us.

Christopher Cheney suggests "Untitled Poem" by C.S Ward appearing in Flying Object's "It's My Decision" series.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Beau Golwitzer

Someone Put the Tank Upside Down

Someone put the tank upside down. The tank was put in the town’s square to commemorate veterans of the first war, or perhaps it was the second. There was a plaque that went up on a wall next to the tank which listed which war the tank was to be a commemoration of, but a long time ago someone stole the plaque. It’s hanging on someone’s living room wall now, as we speak, or maybe someone’s using it as a platter to serve food upon. In other words, someone out there, the thief of the plaque, is using the plaque in a way not respectful. And now the tank has been turned upside down. Perhaps it is the same person, although that seems unlikely. No one can remember which war the tank is supposed to commemorate and neither can anyone rememberhow long ago the plaque was stolen. The color of the plaque is also long forgotten. The tank is tan and it is upside down, laid on its long unused turret. The tank, upside down, loses all of its power, both real and commemorative. The tank, upside down, elicits only pathos. But who among the people in the town might have turned the tank over? No one in this town owns the kind of machine, we’re talking about a crane here, more or less, that might be able to turn the tank back to its proper side. Cranes are mostly long gone too. It has been a long time since anything was built. And it’s unlikely that some piece of strong wind was responsible for turning the tank over onto its long unused turret, and it is unlikely that a giant did it as well. It is equally if not more unlikely that a rival tank flipped the tank onto its back. Every time I walk by the tank I want to reach out and turn it back over, but I don’t have the strength. I have so little strength that barely past the tank I have to collapse onto the ground and fall asleep. Now we fight wars with unmanned vehicles. Someone in a desert far away from where the bombs are dropped directs the plane from his or her console. This is the kind of time we are in. How will we ever commemorate such activities? The soldiers won’t be soldiers anymore and they won’t come from any place in particular. We’ll hold silent parades during which down our Main Street will float these menacing, unmanned craft, menacing due to the lack of people driving it. But of more concern to me should be this tank which has been flung over. It seems only a redeeming sort of storm might fix what’s gone wrong here.

Beau Golwitzer recommends the rants of Eddie Pepitone, to be found at

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Amy Butcher

The Subtle Way

The girl had an earwig problem. The bugs slipped underneath her apartment door while she slept, and when she got up in the night, she heard first one crunch and then another. The bugs made her queasy—their pointed antennas and disjointed bodies. So she asked him, not knowing who else to ask, to help get rid of them.

“I read about this trap,” she said, because she had—this trap that involved a hollowed broom handle and a bottle filled with soapy water. The idea of the trap was this: the nocturnal bugs would crawl into the handle at night, favoring dark and shallow places, and when she woke she would tip it upright and the bugs would fall into the water. They would die there, just like that.

“I’ll make it for you,” he said. It was July and the town was hot. Anything to do seemed like something.

Together they walked to the hardware store. Inside, he knew exactly which aisle to go to. He went there and stood touching things for a while, picking up first one cap and then another.

“We need something to jimmy the bottle and pole together,” he said.

He decided on one—a small, rounded piece of plastic—then picked up a hollowed pipe and walked to the counter. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” he said, and he took a Coke from the chilled refrigerator beside the register. “I’ll get this, and I’ll drink it, and then we can rinse it out and fill it with soapy water.”

It was his efficiency she liked—the subtle way in which everything he did was with purpose. He made more sense when he did things than anyone she’d ever known. She was not this type of person—she made risotto with white wine and peas, and bought organic tomatoes, and owned not one but two iPods: one for running and one for general use.

Still, there was something about him, and back in her apartment as he fastened the plastic nub to the pole and finished the contents of the soda bottle, rinsing it out carefully before screwing it on, she thought this again. She watched the way his hands moved, slow and with purpose.

“There,” he said, and stood back to admire his work. “In the morning, you’ll have to tip it. You’ll have to grab it quick and tip it. Can you do that?”

“I can do that,” she said, because the bugs didn’t mean a thing anymore—they moved fast but they were small, and she could get rid of them, she would get rid of them, and she would show them both just how simple things could be.

Amy Butcher recommends "Virga" by Deanna Benjamin at Brevity.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Glenn Shaheen

Women Injured in Combat

All flags up slowly poles who knows
the planes break flattened a horizon or two
there there are ends or non ends or reboots
plain airs no jets do speak a voyage to land
and countries where language is a roiling market
audio do birds fell by thunder other bang
mother are we drinked on striped starts
too no ends bruised arms bruised backs to
basics picking out or up or picking nickels
iron when shouted come from below street
only look we through window cops true ice
cream men how fire fighters netted in safety
so beddings music trust a certain volume
then become a tactic grocery speakers or
inexpensive applestuffs mistrust in public
hum make believe not deeply thought them
and we or we’re nobody ready to maim irons
nickels calciums bonely flashed music from
speakers made of paper a medal in closet
metals closely flags do illuminate at night
music a button away pull one does go through

Glenn Shaheen recommends "An Editors' Slush-Pile Meeting at the Backdoor Review" by Laurie Ann Cedilnik at The Rumpus.


Meghan Lamb

Phillip Glass

I feel like I’m forgetting who I am
I fell in the tub and I couldn’t get out for an hour

I fell and I saw my life flashing before me
My life interpreted through bits of light and blurs of blue

And distorted wind chimes and I couldn’t get out of the tub
Til I recalled the name of that Einstein Beach man

It is not Phillip Glass
It is certainly not Robert Altman

It is glassy though
Fragments of memory glinting around me

I count my fingers and I count the flecks of dirt beneath them
And I try to count the microscopic things I cannot see

Meghan Lamb recommends Very Beautiful Women, an eBook from Pangur Ban Party.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Megan Kaminski

3 Poems

Dear tourniquet, dear overbite
why not sit still for a moment and quiet too
these are places to wait inside
nails scratching under wardrobes
long hairs in sinks shadows cabinets
toweled under beds not hotels just places
teeth sink into long arms linger before
touching the switch
add another notch to the weathered chaise
leave some for the boneman the baker


Leave matches on the counter
spread hands wide across. We’ll make
due for the time on time
plus half, laundering sentences
country accents for consumption.
Lay your coat on the sofa;
there’s more time for leisure
than you imagine. The fire burns
slowly allows for shadows,
recollections smoked onto skin.


Dear night, dear misplaced images
blanketed silver singed crystalline
cold I gather icicles sew flack jackets
encase late night wonderings
parks shadowed sharply street-lit
dear avenue if I follow floor me
carry me and my lost children
wordspent gangrened unburied

Megan Kaminski recommends Issue 5 by the Dusie Kollektiv.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)


Jack Boettcher

from Theatre-State: The Minister of Corporate and Regional Diplomacies and The Minister of Diminishing Public Expectations

Wrought-iron grillwork locked down the vaulted windows spaced across the pastel-pink façade of the wall outside Stone’s recently renovated office. Spermaceti wax candles—perhaps holdovers from Stone’s maritime period—burned in each window, a throb of weak flame over the vines spilling off the sill. Janus greeted his new friend The Minister of Corporate in the doorway of Stone’s office.
“What does he want with you, Janus?” the Minister said.
“It has to do with my work. He wants me to prove certain things that are still shadowy, life and death sort of things. Principal Stone has high expectations and I am learning how to deal with that.”
“You said it,” said the Minister. “He wants me to help him solve the problem of time. He keeps talking about some Mayan mumbo jumbo.”
“Yes, he certainly has a Mayan fetish of some sort,” Janus agreed. “Do you know if the Maya were ever active in what’s now Costa Sita?”
“I don’t know. That’s a good one. Well, good luck. Oh, and Janus?”
“It’s about Katydid. Do you think she likes me? I’d like to be her road manager. Magnetic I mean.”
“I’m not sure,” Janus said. “I find it difficult to understand Katydid. I can’t seem to get the facts on her. As for whom Katydid fancies, I’m not sure. But I do know that several of The Crudes are said to be competing for her admiration, and that some old-style dueling is involved, with pellet guns.”
“Well, I’m not scared of any Crudes.”
“They are not to be feared. Just use your wits and avoid sudden encounters. I hear they chew qat and can become unpredictable and aggressive.”
“Well, thanks for talking to Katydid for me. I really appreciate this, Janus.”
“I didn’t say—” Janus was saying, but the Minister had shuffled back into the melee of the noonday hallways.
The office had widened, broadened, and doubled in size, and it was now a sunny open-air courtyard bound by a colonnade of skinny vine-spiraled pilasters. Scrawny roosters pecked at inedibles mistaken for feed around a sputtering hacienda fountain, atop which whipped the olive-colored, red-starred Costa Sitan flag. The flag of a much older regime. Water grass thrived in the basin; tropic breezes sidled through. Old men in military regalia loafed on the iron benches, reading eroding Spanish newspapers. Janus couldn’t read the dates. Physical Stone sat at his desk at the far end of the courtyard, brushing a set of magnets. Hologrammatic Stone studied the moisture-warped bookshelves of the library on the wall behind the colonnade, the shelves crowded with yellowed hand maps of the central jungle and old oversized typewritten manuals on kleptocratics, the monopolization of infrastructural support sectors, and how to train your mercenaries for effective nocturnal mobilization of a capital in the hands of state protectionists, as well as one or two silk-bound books of famous dreams recorded by Costa Sitan figureheads through the ages—minor prophesies and such.
 “Who are these men, sir?” Janus said.
“Deposed generals from former, and let’s say less popular, Costa Sitan regimes,” Stone said. “They want nothing from you, and only a little sanctuary and companionship from me, in exchange for which they’re providing invaluable consultation to your very own Ms. Denton, TX as she plans your Homeroom lesson.”
“Janus, Katydid?”
“Sir, what?”
“No rush. Can’t rush love. Just remember the advantages a trainable heir can give to the scientist, who must toil upon this earth at the slothful pace of methodologies, noting futile quanta as the limits of his mortality approach at ever more hurtling speeds of perception. Such an heir would have your brains, Janus, and Katydid’s—should you choose to marry and share your lives and genetics—Katydid’s chutzpah.”
            Janus scribbled Stone’s advice regarding heirs in the margins of his notecards. Only the sound of Janus’ frenzied scribbling and the long, fluid exhalations of cigar smoke from the ex-generals interposed upon the pauses between Stone’s questions and instructions. Janus heard the occasional shuffle of a rooster or the rustling of a newspaper reporting from some brutal regime now reduced to a general’s nostalgia, then the faintest patter of the hacienda fountain through the choke bloom of the grasses.

Jack Boettcher is the author of Theater-State (Blue Square Press, 2011).


Jamie Iredell


The Kumeyaay Indians of northern Baja and Southern Alta California—in the area of San Diego Bay—first encountered Europeans on September 28, 1542. Most of the natives ran away, frightened (smart?), at the sight of the strange people and their boat. Those who remained intoned through signs that news had come to the coast from inland that other men like the Spaniards who landed by sea had already reached them. When Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s men remained onshore for fishing, within time the Kumeyaay began shooting arrows at the intruders.

In Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s diary, he writes that he landed on the California coast in the Santa Barbara Channel and met Pimungan Indians. A señora, chieftain of many pueblos in the Pimungan’s matriarchal culture, stayed aboard Cabrillo’s ship for three nights. Through signs, the Spaniards learned from her that in the land’s interior there were many more pueblos and much maize. The native woman had heard reports of other bearded and cloth-clathed men, likely from Hernando de Alarcón’s expedition up the Colorado River Delta. These “heathen” offered Cabrillo and his men their tamales, which the Spaniards called “a good food.” These same people, the Blessed Father Fray Junípero Serra, founder of California’s first Spanish Missions, would later call gentiles, lazy, uncivilized, to whom he brought God, measles, syphilis, guns, and coarse cloth. The Pimungans brought to Cabrillo fresh water, fish, and wood. In return the Spanish Captain gave to them clay beads.

Sixty years later, on November 11, 1602, Sebastian Vizcaíno sailed into what he would name San Diego Bay, for the feast of Saint Didacus was nigh. The men built a hut and the Carmelite friars sang mass. The Kumeyaay again paid a visit, geared for war. Vizcaíno reported encountering an old woman who approached, tears streaming her cheeks. Perhaps she foresaw the continued arrival of these pale men and their big ships, and the destruction of her culture. Perhaps she had been told of the white men who had come sixty years earlier. Maybe she had even been there, just a little girl, when Cabrillo offered his clay beads like a god.

In 1992 the United States Postal Service issued a twenty-nine cent stamp in honor of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.

A portion of California Highway One is called the Cabrillo Highway, and runs between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. A girl I had met at school in my sophomore year of college turned out to be from the Santa Cruz Mountains, near my hometown on the shores of the Monterey Bay, where the Spaniards had established their colonial capital, where today their settlements are the cities of Monterey and Santa Cruz, and I offered this girl a ride home for winter break. First we stopped at my family’s cabin in Squaw Valley, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where we curled together on the floor in front of the fireplace, watching South Park. I was too shy to do much more than kiss her. After a week back home, with her calling me, and me making mad dashes past the redwoods up Cabrillo Highway from Monterey to the Santa Cruz Mountains, I got her back at my parents’ home surrounded by oaks while the folks were out of town. There we stripped naked and touched each other the way naked people do. We could have been native Californians, and in a sense we were: we’d both been born there. One night afterwards, when I kissed her, she said, We should really stop. I said, What’s wrong? The fog was thick. She said, I’ve gotten used to kissing you, and I have a boyfriend, you know. This was, as they say, news to me. The house got too hot. When that boyfriend called, that very night, and she turned away from me, her ear to the phone, I snuck out of that sweaty house and rushed Cabrillo Highway all the way home at ninety plus. I haven’t been in the Santa Cruz Mountains since.

Jamie Iredell lives in Atlanta and teaches at Savannah College of Art and Design. He is the author of two books.


Andrew Borgstrom


Violet in our light even turned. Violent is our light even turned. In now. Our under light. Light in given heat turned. Even violet even now. Turned under rot now even done. Violet is our light even now turned. In side. Our under rot. Light is given heat turned. Even veiled even now. Turned under, rot now, even done. In now. Now our worms. Our under rotted. Under now done even rot. Light is given, heat turned. Light is given, heat, turn. Is now. Given is violent, even now. Her even and turns. Turned under rotted now, even turns. Even vent even now. Violet in our light even turns. Even violent even now. Now on worms. Turned under rotted now, even turned. Under now done, evened rot. Rot our turns. Now, ours, worms. Even veiled, even now. Done ours now, even. Violet in our lighted even, turned. In-side. Ours under rot. Light is given, heated turns. Even vent, even now. Now over worms. Turned under, rotted now, evened turn. Inside. Side in done even. Our under rots. Under now done even rot. Rot overturned.

Andrew Borgstrom lives in the desert. 


David Peak

Shape of a Ribcage

On the bridge I watched a man-sized bird balance a row of neatly-lined human skulls, stopping a beat to beak at the white worms wriggling in those empty sockets, those of nose and eyes. The bird craned low its long neck and pecked, inspected, pecked, one-by-one down the line, each time stopping a beat to admire—or maybe consider—the neatly-lined rows of teeth.

The bridge is a suspension bridge suspended between two bluffy cliffs, deep-down bottom dropped out, a body gorged, belly rusting with the broken-down bodies of bombers, Second World War or something thereafter. Weather blazes a backward trail, blazed and baking sun a setting, a shadow fanning imprint in the mud, or an impression of the weight of extinction. The crushing shape of a ribcage.

History impresses its weight on the spine of the scoliosis codex. Each passing day a new layer of skin spans over the redraw, a new dead layer of skin to tusk at shed exoskeletons. And each passing day is a lesson: how to mask the crippled limp; withstand the concussions of trench warfare. Curled into the center is all our tension, suspended—the cardinal point of free fall, from which to make our leap.

David Peak lives in the middle of the woods where he collects and cleans guns. He frequently deletes his blog at


James Chapman

from This

            She keeps the Absolute in her eyes, and the Absolute hovers around her. So she can walk out of the city of flowers into the desert wearing no clothes at all, and men don’t interfere. All are welcome to look at her body, because her body isn’t anything, her body was discarded by her husband. White as jasmine, devoted to my name, wild, she scares men away. Her love is stronger than their eyes.
            She's my wife in her heart, she crosses the desert alone, in pain and naked, passing between stones, singing to me. “Why don’t you show your face?” She begs the birds and the silkworms, the monkeys and the fiery sun, “Where is he, my Spek white as a book, sky-inhabitor?” She has me confused with an unknown god, my unreachability has given me divinity in her blood, she feels my divinity as pain.
            Each grain of the desert finds the dune it belongs to, and each dune helps in holding up the sky. She passes between a dune of heedlessness and a dune of anger without climbing onto either. She settles her body into a dune of permitting, which sighs to feel her back against it. Written in the sand are words that never blow away, right where everybody can see them, STUTTER, CLUMSY, MISTAKE and the words have a single heart drawn around them all, and the heart is beating.
            She sings At this very moment you might appear.
            You said my face was like a sacrifice to God. But I don’t love this god. He taught you to snare women, as he snared you. He taught you to forget women, as he’s forgotten you. He taught you to ignore the pain you cause. Then show me how to sacrifice my pain to your naked idol. Show me how to crucify pain, beautiful Spek.
            What does it mean that you’re “seeking”? where do you need to go? My pain is everyplace you can look, my pain is in the bowl of the sky, a broken sky falls on every head. There’s noplace you can go that my pain won’t gaze at you, begging you to kill it. If you walk into the future, my pain is there. If you walk into the past—but the past, before you appeared to me, was all ease and beauty. Will you infect that beautiful sky too, Spek, will you desolate even what I remember?
            In my fragile heart you live raging, a black god killing creatures who gaze into your eyes. In my evil heart you live as an attributeless miracle, you sing light from your indescribable throat. I dreamed of my hands reaching for your light, and you woke me, Spek, by stopping my heart.
            I could have been a mother, whispering sounds to a believing face. This is a mistake, isn't it, singing these words to your absent eyes? I should create a new song instead, a song of sobbing, a song of a vibrating heart, and give it to anyone who uses his ears with love. I could have married an unworshipping man with a face like flowers who would dance with me as I danced with him, who'd feel no guilt at my name’s joy. This is a mistake to speak these words to you, you who won't dance, you with absent feet, you who are all name, only name, Spek.
            Shedding my song you wouldn’t listen to, shedding my eyes you looked away from, shedding my dancing that didn’t move you, shedding my opinions that bored you, shedding my awareness that didn’t warm you, shedding my body that couldn’t keep you, shedding my mind that didn’t interest you, shedding my heart that was invisible to you, what is the container for this pain, and what would this pain have me do now, without a self and without you, Spek?
            My mother grieves because her daughter is damaged, is distracted, sits talking about a man’s eyes and hair, his voice and words, and his absence above all. She tried to teach me to protect myself, even when I was small she warned me against this. Now she’s furious at my beloved, who has demolished all her teachings. Will you still teach me, mother? Show me how to hate Spek, the way you do?
            For others, it’s like you don’t exist. They don’t know you, they're free and lost. So they don’t understand what’s in my eyes. This darkness here, it’s a picture of you, it’s the dark watcher within me, the black ball at my center. This little black object, source of my pain, I would not give this treasure away to anyone. But I'll give it to you, Spek, to rub its perfume on your body.
            I touched your body and before I could say “How strong, how soft, how vulnerable, how radiant,” how this and that, you'd already become a million Speks in my blood, and another million in my heart, and a million million in my mind. You may abandon me but I have no shortage of you. Did you know you’ve been singing me to sleep at night, and waking me in the morning, Spek strong and soft?
            If I lie here long enough I'll forget you. I can’t possibly think of you every moment, this can’t go on. If I lie here without you I'll dissolve, and the blob remaining won’t be a girl, it won’t know how to miss you. If I lie here I’ll evaporate, and rise on ninety different breaths of air, and join that cloud there, and drift across the earth. But even as vapor I’ll still know you when I see you. I’ll fall on you as rain, Spek, I’ll soak you to the skin.
            My heart is too full. If I met you now, like this, there'd be no room for you. If we ever merged together, how would there be space on the earth? We'd have to find another place to stand, a place without pain, we'd have to become formless, an idea, a banner with a symbol on it. We'd have to hide in the space between the seconds of time, or we'd crowd everybody out, Spek, the way you’ve crowded me out of my own breath.
            I know you're married to a god. You're following your Christ to the edge of time. Your goodness and loyalty have helped you flee the filth of my body. You married the father in heaven, you love the son on earth. But what about HERE, in my head, in this infinite world of invisible images? Will you hold me in your arms here, at least? Will you marry me here? Our wedding will take place hidden between two atoms. Nobody will know, nobody will see. Out of the whole vast plain of earth, our marriage will be the size of a small jewel-box, the size of my mind. The honeymoon will hide here, within me. Here in my head I can give you Saturn for your ring. Here are no boundaries, here we span the ends of the universe. Here in this other place, in this hidden place, Spek, let us kiss.

James Chapman will live in New York a while longer, drop over while you can. His most recent novel is "The Rat Veda."