"In Which Our Heroine Considers Her Alternatives"
Draw any beast by starting with a circle! Then pencil in tusks
or distended bowels or a sweater vest with scratchy argyle
Naturally complications accrue with each additional triangle tooth,
each subsequent month of discarded girlfriends and gods and
years of scribbled decisions and enemy blood clumping on our fur.
Our beginnings never know our ends: every day I start knitting
and have yet to bind off a one. Umpteen distinguished civil
box after box of chalk to population patterns and projections,
and still I overheard the chief comptroller in the bathroom stall
’Are these ideas right or wrong?’ as he pissed his morning coffee
So I subscribed to Understanding Your Worm. O simplest of
have you slammed the phone or weepingly packed an overnight
I confess that personal ad in the March issue was mine: ISO ascetic
who hearts long walks through leaves, who like me, spirals when
It stung, yes, to get no replies. Postage perhaps was out of reach.
But at last
out back I found love nibbling the pink guts of a squirrel. Such
as his nose pressed death! How did it end, you ask? Reader, I
~Jynne Dilling Martin [source]
Explorers: Amundsen (1976) (David Cobham)
The neighbor kids gave us little comfort. Like us, they ran short on real data about psych wards, but they were very long on mean-assed idiom. To this day, it’s a peculiar trait of Leechfield citizenry that your greatest weakness will get picked at in the crudest local parlance. In fact, the worse an event is for you, the more brutally clear will be the talk about it. In this way, guys down there born with shriveled legs get nicknamed Gimpy, girls with acne Pizzaface.
My daddy even worked with a guy whose teenaged son had gone berserk with a twelve-gauge shotgun and marched one summer day into the junior high, where he shot and killed a guidance counselor while the principal (the alleged target, we later heard) hid in the school safe. The men on Daddy’s job right away nicknamed this kid the Ambusher. The week the local paper carried a story about the boy’s incarceration and lobotomy in the state hospital at Rusk, the guys at the refinery pitched the kid’s daddy a party complete with balloons and noisemakers. I shit you not. Daddy claimed that the card they gave the poor fellow read: ‘Here’s hoping the Ambusher can finally hang up his guns!’
This kind of bold-faced ugliness was common to us. The theory behind it held that not mentioning a painful episode in the meanest terms was a way of pretending that the misery of it didn’t exist. Ignoring such misery, then, was equal to lying about it. Such a lie was viewed as more cruel, even, than the sad truth, because it somehow shunned or excluded the person in pain (i.e. in the above case, the Ambusher’s daddy) from everybody else. Plus ignoring such a grotesque event as the lobotomy of one’s only son would suggest that the guy was somehow made weak by it or ‘couldn’t take it.’
So neighbor kids talked to me in language meant to toughen me to the cold facts of my life. I heard how Mother was crazy as a mudbug and nutty as a fruitcake. She didn’t have both oars in the water. She had been slam-dunked in the loony bin, the funny farm, the Mental Marriott, the Ha-Ha Hotel.
I got my ass whipped three or four times by jumping like a buzz saw into kids popping off this way about her. Finally, Daddy urged me to start biting down hard on any kid getting the better of me. He knew that to back up would bring a steady stream of ass-whippings, and my size precluded any bona fide victories. ‘Lay the ivory to ‘em, Pokey’ was how he put it. Even if I got whipped after, a bite left a mark that’d stay with a person. That summer, I bit to draw blood seven or eight times.
~Mary Karr [buy]
Hanukkah and Yeshua (2012) (Ron Cantor)
Near McMurdo Station (2013) (Jynne Dilling Martin)