I wanted everything or I wanted nothing,
but not the in-between.
I made my body a new body for protection.
My neck was elongated
as a child by stacks of brass rings.
Bangkok is crowded with ghosts.
I made a fortune
in the red-light district, claiming
to be psychic,
seizing with visions in the backroom
of a tattoo parlor
for twelve hundred Baht. Of platitudes,
I have many.
I have become renowned for the dark
boudoir of mind,
raucous hysterics. I was a girl once too,
My mother made me a cake shaped
into a half-sphere,
slathered in frosting, then sheathed
with a verdant glaçage
so it resembled the world.
What a relief. They brought the dregs up
from the lost and found, a little respite for us all.
A Moleskin. A cashmere glove. A Tiffany bracelet.
I wonder who these belonged to.
I begin to make up a story. Then I think “stop”
and I stop.
The semiotic square of “action” versus “inaction”
has “action” as symbolic,
“inaction” as real.
In Lars von Trier’s Melancholia,
Kirsten Dunst’s character is plagued by refusal.
Paralysis. “It had always sounded strangely in my ears.”
During the film’s second act, her inaction is reframed.
She remains calm at the end of the world
while her family suffers.
I say “reframe” but it is more like snow.
Slush is absorbed into concrete like a sponge,
then fractures the ground when it refreezes.
Prayer could not save Paris, but a rusted axe.
Saint Genevieve draped the bloody pelt
of a man across her back.
I watched a girl in pink pajamas threaten to kill
her doctor, then herself. She threatened her
with a silver spork. It was better than TV
because it made me laugh.
I am going to crack. You have to understand,
it is December.
You can beat a dead horse but you can’t make it drink.
If I so much as sigh by an open window,
woodland animals gather to listen at my feet.
The birds carry Ambien in their beaks like seeds.
I take two, Perrault’s posthumous muse,
listing my favorite foods until I’ve lulled myself to sleep.
There is nothing duller than going to the movies
except listening to me talk after I’ve gone to the movies.
Argento’s was good, but I preferred Guadagnino’s,
though remakes make the worst type of film.
Hitchcock did The Man Who Knew Too Much twice.
I thought the second better because I saw it first,
at the library on a Saturday, surrounded by old women
who tapped me on the shoulder to say I’m gorgeous
and that they used to look like me. What else can I do
but believe them? Lying is only fun until you realize
everyone thinks you’re telling the truth.
At twelve, I read the Enchiridion so many times
I grew sick of it. Horenbacher’s Wasted.
The only thing more self-indulgent than a memoir
is a poem, writing and rewriting the same lines.
I think of Bishop’s sixteen drafts.
Who can live inside that kind of anxiety?
I deleted a line before this and a line after
that depicted a subplot involving Dickinson and me
sitting at opposite ends of an astonishingly long table,
a spread of pastry before us. I pretended to reach
for a mille-feuille to trick her into taking one first.
I think too much, she said. My dress was whiter
than hers; my hair, longer. Listen, I said,
you’re preaching to the wrong tree.