Thank you to Indolent Books for publishing my poem!

Thank you to Michael Broder and the great Indolent Books for publishing my poem:

nasty like janet or the way one feels after a seven day bath resistance but also like that moment when you figure out the perfect way to describe yourself

 

Below is an excerpt. For the whole poem, click HERE

I’m not sure if I’m nasty because my version of femalia is like Lombard Street, all zig-zagged and out-of-breath.

You want me to stuff my Feminist deep inside my pockets, and fix you supper. You want me shaved and simplified. You want me pink. Knees pressed. Porridgy girl.

On the other side of Woman is me. Buzzed tongue and vague.

A faint of genitals and unfinished and easily bothered and trying trying trying NOT to apologize.

What is the Diameter of your Mouth?

My mouth is having an affair. It has let a non-degreed dentist inside it, stretching it far past its ability and now I have the aftertaste of sore and bothered.

My father always knew when I relapsed because my nose would be cracked and red. Eventually, he stopped asking. Instead, we’d meet at our regular lunch spot, talk around addiction to remind each other there is more to life than pain.

When I go to the dentist, the other students gather to try and understand the trauma of my mouth. The professors ask questions; my teeth become a pop quiz for what happens when one flosses with stolen pill carcasses for too many years.

Once, my father asked me why I kept putting holes in my body (reference chapters eighteen through twenty-three: The Piercing Years). He’d wince at the hoops and studs and glare of jewelry distracting my skin. I never really knew how to answer. To let the screams out? 

My mouth is called child-sized. They need to make an impression of my teeth and no mold is small enough to fit inside me. They stretch and stretch and I wonder if this is what childbirth is like.

Eventually, I stopped taking drugs and cleared my body of jewelry. The addiction will always remain, but all the holes closed up.

I want to tell my dentist that I like the way his facial hair grows and that if I could wake up with a beard, I’d leave it alone. But one day, I woke to find a long, blond hair growing from my chin and it seemed too lonely, so I asked my spouse to take it away. Maybe I have a difficult time committing to the in-between of things.

The last time I consumed “the bad drugs”, I was watching a friend’s dog for a weekend. It was her way of thanking me. The calendar called it Valentine’s Day and I might have preferred chocolate, but it didn’t stop me from consuming.

I tell my father that I have been writing non-traditional love poems. He asks me what that means. I say: the kind of love that runs away from flowers and announces the beauty in mouth sores and cavities. It hurts when I laugh because my mouth is still healing. It hurts when I laugh because I am still learning how.

a dangerous shadow

She called everyone a misfit, wearing the city like a cloak. Fire eyes. Field of poppy lashes. “No one expects anything from us,” she said, “which makes us more dangerous like unidentified alphabets.” I started rummaging for what hides in my shadow, finding a grocery list for ends of times. “Nothing is quiet anymore,” she added. “Our wrists harmonize with the wind.” “Don’t forget our tongues!” someone shouted. “Yes,” she spoke quietly. “Our tongues are the synthesizers to our souls. And we’ve got entire albums hoarded behind our lungs. So, let’s turn up the volume and dance!”

An Assignment

for Adam (and always Rebel),

tell the world 1 thing you think they might never know because it is purely you and not an ounce another person         I’m so fearful of dying and yet I think about it everyday.
 
then tell of 2 reasons which your experiences have directly informed in your being unique to that thesis        That time when I was fifteen but also before that and then again at thirty-five but also the subway tracks and that rootftop no one knew about and the collection of stickers, rocks, postcards and pills, plus that time that time and when I hoarded so many secrets in my body everyone called it weight gain but I knew the truth.
 
then tell 3 fibs as to disguise again. they must directly abort your truth on purpose as a test to the reader       1. When I was eight or eleven, I ran over a small child with my bicycle which was somebody’s cousin in a well-groomed neighborhood in New Jersey where the adults competed with the size of their swimming pools and the children competed with the size of their fists. 2. I never really graduated from high school, but still sat beside my alphabetized best friend at the ceremony and when they didn’t call out my name, no one seemed to notice. I waited many years before trying out college and by then no one seemed to ask for proof of what came before. 3. I love myself.
 
finally, propose 4 items of intrigue. those can be from your process as you go along and find a need to vent about, or a nocturnal fog that leads us (the readers ) astray, or a picked-over analytical debut of what it all means, or even an offering of some sort, an out-of-the-way muse flicker, if you will.       1. In Colorado, I lit my secrets on fire. She stood beside me and I explained to her what that smell was all about; she loved me anyway. 2. I don’t know anything about truth; I’ve been lying for longer than I’ve been standing, but I know that it is so much easier to walk away and I’m interested in challenges right now. 3. I know that I am walking around with a crowd of voices inside me, and I can only speak one of their languages. 4. I know that mouths are like ashtrays, full of the rubble of smoke and ash of what is left behind. 5. I know a dirty word and it rhymes with everything that is difficult to pronounce. Like life. Like this.

 

What are the coordinates?

Have you checked for asbestos?

Could there be mold hidden beneath your teeth?

Are the cracks in your skin signs of shiver and haunt?

Can I rent a kayak and travel the length of your amygdala?

Is there an ingredient your fingernails like to hoard beneath them?

Why is that area of your body police taped and boarded up with planks and nails?

Are your wrists remorseful?

Can you climb or have your knees asked you not to anymore?

Why don’t you wear make-up to cover-up to brighten?

Can everything be altered? Will that make you feel better?

Why do you crack your knuckles?

Why does your belly bend?

Can your shoulders survive the childhood you house on your back and lug around?

What do you mean you never had a welcome mat?

What do you mean your doorbell is broken?

What do they wipe their feet on?

How do they let you know they’ve arrived?

Are you the sort who leaves your body’s windows unclasped and doors wide open?

How stained is your glass skin?

Excited to announce my new chapbook of poems

Thank you so much to Essay Press for publishing my chapbook of poems, carpus.

Carpus is a gutting of body, all the kicked up grit of gender and love and (mis)understandings of self

Thank you to the incredible editors who were patient and encouraging: Aimee Harrison (brilliant reader/editor), Travis Sharp (created the cover), and Emily Pifer (video embedder).

READ CARPUS HERE

Let me know what you think! Email me at: aimeeherman@gmail.com

Check out this video of one of the poems featured in the book:

 

Climate Change

originally published by great weather for MEDIA

 

It begins to feel amiss once you walk inside it. 

If one of my students had written this sentence, I’d write: who or what is “it”?

It is this election-aggression, this chaos of season change, shift in age bracket from young to invisible, status of single shifting to a bit more traditional.

It can be racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamaphobia, transphobia. All the isms and ‘obias plaguing us too loudly these days.

*

Hélène Cixous wrote, “In the beginning, I adored. What I adored was human. Not persons; not totalities, not defined and named beings. But signs. Flashes of being that glanced off of me, kindling me.”

I’m just/looking to be/kindled.

Instead, I feel like the residue– the ash, the dust, the remains of what was but no longer. Our climate is changing or we are and perhaps we need to pay closer attention to the scorch of storms clearing us out.

*

I send a message out to my friend out west, “I am failing at being an adult.”

Cixous wrote, “Perhaps being adult means no longer asking yourself where you come from, where you’re going, who to be. Discarding the past, warding off the future? Putting history in place of yourself?”

Replacing it, I guess, with thoughts of things:

Accessories, adornment, matching placemats, furniture upgrades, grocery shopping, electricity bills, daily selfie uploads, health care coverage, car payments, doctor appointments, pap smear, teeth cleaning, arnica, paxil, lithium, clonazepam.

We are I am so deep inside the distractions of external, that we are I am forgetting to work on within.

*

Yesterday on the 4 train headed uptown at just before noon, I hear a woman (out of eyesight) yell at a man accompanied by bike. I am standing, suctioned between the other commuters, trying to balance book in my hand. I hear her yell at him for being in the way, “you should ride your bike, not take it on the train,” and so on.

We (fellow travelers) do not respond. We don’t react. Until. She says. “Go back to where you came from.”

Suddenly, a chorus of gasps fill the 4 train mixed with how dare yous and eye rolls.

Two stops later, I get off at Fulton Street and climb away from the anger fuming through the train like a smoke bomb. I feel hurt and disappointed and very, very tired. I am worried I will be coupled with this person. This woman. This white woman. Worried I look too much like her and people will assume we are the same/feel the same/act the same.

Which is what we all keep doing: assuming those in particular groups, similar genders, religions, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, … are all the same.

We. Are. Not.

*

The climate has changed and I am manically purchasing rope. Everyday, five block walk to hardware store, buying out their stock until the next day, when I go back and purchase more. And with this rope, I make knots to add to its length. Longer. Longer. Create a noose. (This is not what you think.) And when it’s long enough, I aim this lasso toward sun, and bring it closer. Force its light in. To lift us out of all this all this dark.