I Wake Up Early

I wake up early and I two-factor on in. I make clean sure I’ve got the num lock stack-impacted because I like that keypad over the far right side. Reminds me of all the days I spent behind a desk back when I was young and when going to sleep at four and getting up at eight didn’t bother me even a little.

I remember worrying in those days about how uncomfortable it would feel for friends to visit me behind that desk; I wouldn’t know where to put them. I remember, too, putting my feet up in a booth in a fast food place nearby on a lunch break–this was visiting a friend and knowing where I could be put by her easy enough. Reading some novel or other at the time, too.

Every summer I remember other summers even more. And every fall I wash into replication. I wish all falls were the same and all summers lifted up exponentially. I’m happy to be the same degree of happy every time the leaves are turning if every time they’re in full effect I can lift myself a little bit higher, slicked by sweat to tripping. Sounds lovely and ideal.

In reality my greatest joy is almost always following me about two years back.  

I was always snaking slow laps on downtown paths those days. A little way north and a little way east. That was me, the one with earbuds in, hands in pockets, slithering here and there, collecting steps. That would have been 30 minutes north and thirty minutes south if I was generous and ate while I walked. No snake but I talked like I wanted to be; it’s because it sounded to good and I was lashed.

And that’s it, isn’t it? I say “paths” when really I mean “path” when really I mean “I walked a single loop and hated to diverge from it appreciably,” when really I mean, “I wish I hadn’t always failed to wonder what was slipping past the edges.”

The world is so, so large and how much of it I’m not ever going to see even in my near field vicinity just shocks and appalls me every single Tuesday morning: that’s when I’m trapped at a desk for three hours and $12 per. When I’m free to move but moving not freely I never think about it; so long as I’m walking I’m under the illusion that the walking could venture any which way and still matter.

I’m now in the present tense and over on Market Street thinking about all the stuff that goes up that we don’t see going up. Like buildings and like those memorials for car wreck deaths on the side of the road. On a road trip once I saw a hunkered family hammering a white cross on the freeway and I knew they’d lost one of them very recently and that I was one of less than 30 people on the outside to see what I was seing. The driver with me didn’t even see it; she was watching yellow lines and tail lights. I thought about how sad it was, but it felt fake to think that way for very long, so I left it billow off into memory. They were feeling something so real and we were going 80 miles per hour in a 60 zone and didn’t get pulled over even once for the whole 400 miles we went.

Anyway, in present times again, I waltz around the corner, forgetting that family’s last name that I never knew, and I eye the packs of short haired jacks wearing their loose khaki slacks. Their polos are tucked deep into, I guess, their silk underwear. That’s what I’m guessing. It’s great fun to guess across divides, to crack jokes. These jokers suck on lunch break cigs and I wonder how much smoke those fabric folds can hold. I’m playing here, but I don’t know any of them and I never will. They’re above my paygrade in a literal sense and we can all feel it.  

“A trip to the tropics might be just the thing.” I overhear that on my way back. Who talks like that these days? “Just the thing.” For what?

And a trip to the tropics. Don’t they know how soon those tropic’ll be under water anyway? Guess that’s why it’s just the thing again; soon enough it’ll be no one’s thing anymore. Hard to think about for very long. Hard not to think about in lots of short bursts.

I had a dream last night that someone nuked New York City. I was in a Midwestern basement and everyone was scared but acting normal; the jitter of every heart venting through a filter, I guess. That’s dream logic. They were all acting like their fright could be settled back into regular every day activity. “I’m scared of heights. I’m scared of snakes. I’m scared of becoming dust.” Not like the world had totally changed. “I’m scared of whatever alien race is out in the ionosphere waiting to erase us all from memory. I’m scared that the green sliver I saw through my bedroom window when I was eight wasn’t just a shadow or a tree but something.” But all the rest of it’s going 80 in a 60 and won’t get pulled over, not for ten thousand miles.

In that dream,  I got a text from some social media magnate letting me know my friend Elisabeth had checked in as “Safe” in New York somewhere. “I didn’t even know Elisabeth had moved to New York,” I thought. And who was Elisabeth now that I’m awake and I’ve two-factored in and I’m out and about and walking past jokers whose year-end bonus exceeds my annual take home? In my dream I felt sad at how good I had gotten at letting people slip away and I cried a little before I realized I was doing the same thing as everyone else in my dream. Why cry for an invented Elisabeth when there’s whole scores of dust piles out on the East coast?

I come round the corner and the streets go haywire. Crystal clear cutlery clutters the gutters. Some lunk dropped a box of the well-bought plastic stuff on his way to a wedding reception and I’m the only one around to say sorry for it. So I’m sorry. I wish the married couple luck though I’ll never meet them. I’ve got nothing to do with what they’re going to do even minutes after “yes” or “I do” or whatever they chose to say but I just want them to be loved and happy. Even though I had nothing to do with the cutlery spill, I’m sorry. Sorry from my sockets to yours; sorry to make you watch me act this way.

 

Text Message Poker

 

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So now that it’s been a week or two since I stopped doing this–we fell off–I feel like I can comment a little more on this short burst of behavior.

For a furious month, a friend of mine, one who had recently moved across the country, played one on one poker via text message almost unceasingly. It was an obsession. A constant lunge after that thrill of hitting a perfect pocket pair, or playing just right, or getting absolutely, unequivocally lucky.

I remember driving my dad’s truck on Christmas, going from my sister’s house to my parents’ house, stopping for gas, and playing a hand while the pump ran. I thought about static electricity, then, hoping for no explosions.

I remember a day with my wife’s family where I mostly ignored the Q9 off suit I had so I could pay more attention to the toddlers running around the bread recipes I was trying not to screw up. And I was trying not to be too distracted from real live people by some device.

I remember him visiting and us still playing on the way back from the airport and at my house hanging out with friends and going to a bar and thinking about how weirdly different it felt to play the game when we were in the same area. And not even just that I’d forgotten that part of the whole thing was that I couldn’t let him see what cards I had. More that there was a body and a person on the other end of every single poker hand I’d played over the previous month. Real live thumbs were raising and checking me into oblivion; I lost more games than I won, probably partly because I managed to keep forgetting that.

When I first thought about writing something about text message poker it was going to be about the weird, beautiful, wordless subjectivity we had fostered over digital communication. Aside from an “LOL” here and there, we hardly said anything, but I spent more time thinking about what my friend was thinking than habit and daily life typically encourage. That felt good and close.

It was an odd thing to wake up to a time zone lagged poker play every morning, a friend softly saying “I don’t believe you hit the straight because of everything I know and can interpret about you so far.” It felt connecting over distance, even if we didn’t say anything and I had no idea where he was or what he was doing as he played any given play.

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Surely that’s in there. Connection over distance. But the way we played kept reminding me of all the cues I couldn’t see. Another old friend who moved away and who I talk with less and less used to stack his chips a certain way when he thought he had you beat. I’ve even got a picture to remember that by, up above. I lucked out and hit a straight flush on the river, the only time I’ve ever gotten a hand that good. He had no way of knowing, so he stacked his chips just so and went all in. Someone else called because they had the Jack high flush. And then I called because I knew that no one had me beat.

In-person and with amateurs, there’s always a moment right after hand is over, during which everyone does the calculations in their head: I’ve got a flush, he’s got a flush, he’s got a… And then usually there’s quiet acknowledgement and the game moves on, unless the hand is so rare that your friends tell you that you have to take a picture to remember it by (a picture you only find again and remember on accident because you’re testing the machine learning capacity of an online photo storage tool). Then you all yell in excitement and no one’s mad that they lost and you’re all just together in a garage around a table and smiling.

When we were in the same room playing the text message version, the game felt rangier, more ecstatic, more like the garage. We could run around the room in celebration of a lucky turn, and we could watch each other run.

I can spend all my time and energy focused on the subjectivity of another being but I can’t make ESP real. I spent a lot of time looking at the screen telling me to wait for my opponent.

But technology trains us to think a certain way. Text messages flatten speech into a rut that belongs only to text messages. Email, to email, and so on. Poker introduced a wobbling wheel, a rumble strip, maybe, lots of time spent thinking about what someone else was thinking and what they thought I was thinking, and maybe that widened the rut, but it’s still a rut and it still runs circles back and forth between major cities. But at least it’s rumble strips and not a smooth slide off the shoulder.

Don’t Smoke / Get Off the Internet

Is it because there’s a little part of you that wants to be dead?
Or is it because your life feels empty without some ritual?
Or is it because the rebellion against the adults hasn’t ended yet?

The adults sell cigarettes.
And you are young and rich for now.
You have the ritual of waking up each day and it will fill you.

I just finished a whole post on how repetition is horrifying but repetition’s cousin, ritual, still feels beautiful to me.

I woke up at 5:45am this morning. The alarm went off at 6:00 and I was at the gym by 6:40, work by 8:00. Work feels grinding, repetitive, sad, most of the time, but what is it about the process of getting up earlier than I need to get up and going somewhere to put a finer point on a the dust-bound flesh I’ve got for an hour that feels calming and fulfilling? Why is there a part of me that can let go of my clattering self-awareness when I sing a song’s chorus until the words are sopping?

Phil Elverum is usually hesitant to make direct statements like he did in the above song and its B-side “Get off the Internet.” That irregularity has a tendency to make the eruption seem more poignant and overarching than it was meant to probably be, but some geysers you can set your watch by and there are volcanoes that we know must bust up sooner or later, so I wouldn’t say songs like these are anything more than just something that happens.

Needing the ritual.

Here I want to say that the difference between a habit and a ritual is mindfulness but it feels too pat to do so without wrapping it in self-consciousness; sometimes a ritual is just something that happens.

At what level of detail does repetition become indistinguishable from stillness?  From outer space, the Great Barrier Reef looks tremendous and still, but it might be teeming? (The secondary sources seem confused.)

I’m working on a piece of music where I set up a stereo pair of microphones in the corner of a room and attach them to a stereo looper. Then I sing one line of a song over and over into that looper until the loop becomes so huge and messy that the starting point gets lost. This piece is somehow supposed to be about ritual, repetitive motion, and stillness. In it, I’m singing a chorus I learned in church; the line I sing is, “Your praise will ever be on my lips.”

I sing the line over and over that I start off mindful, absolutely attentive to the harmony and the layering and the space of the room, and then eventually I drift off, I become an automaton, dancing around a room, singing tunelessly over and over, letting the song sing me instead. I am buoyed by this.

Somehow the recordings never carry over the feeling quite correctly after the fact. I’ve done countless takes and I’m worried now that what I want to record can’t actually be recorded. I’m worried that it’s not different enough from the spreadsheet I’ve been keeping of how much weight I’ve been lifting in the mornings.

The last line in “Don’t Smoke” is: “Go, improve yourself right now.”

I Am Thirsty and Here is What You Have Won

One of our winners is driving along the highway and I’m coming up behind him, fast as I can-like. He’s not speeding enough, I don’t think, but that’ll only matter a little bit later and when I’m already done with him. But no, please don’t misunderstand me, please don’t think that me and mine want him for anything confrontational-like, or such. By saying “When I’m done with him,” I just mean when I’m finished talking at him about what it means to have won. I’m just Thirsty, see. That’s me. Thirsty. I’m just hoping he’ll look at me and listen to what I’ve got to say calm-like. And that will be the end of it. Swear on my finite life time. I’m just here to tell the winners. 

He’s not used to vehicles shaped like mine and he’s not used to vehicles that drive like mine, so I’ll need to keep my arms so, so softly to my side when I come up on him and maybe then I won’t startle him. That way he won’t see my God-given fists (fifteen units of currency says he’ll call them claws-like later). I didn’t ask God for these fists. No, sir. I didn’t ask to be Thirsty with the foreign scuff. I just came out all like this. 

My craft has certain skills even you the reader might twinge at: pedestrian scaffolds, ventricular consults, anterior thrust capacity outside of the visual range and all of that, but sir, please, again, don’t misunderstand, there’s nothing war-like in it any more than yours could tumble down the mountains of my home and flatten a village. There’s nil-chance of any of that unfurling violence-like, so I’m hardly halfway worried about it and only bring it up in here so as to compare it clear-like. But still I know how it reads to be come up on by old Thirsty in the dark and rainy moonlight so I’m being tentative, see? 

Running my fingers down the upsides and the downsides of a worry stone will do me no good anyway, but I’ll say it: what if him in the car responds bad-like to my warning that he won? When I’m finished with him or near finished with him, what if he goes all rogue-like and winds up and does a violent-like action upon me and I find myself unable to rear back in time, quick as I am, and nimble? Thirsty is not a being who likes to fight, near as I can say and honestly, but Thirsty needs certain things too, and one of those is to be heard and another of those is to feel that the human he’s been kind to is understanding what he needs to understand. It’s a valuable thing, this winning, and it won’t be let to sit lightly in this rain, I’ll say.

And so he stops his car thinking that Thirsty is one of those typical-like police-type characters that haunt the highways in this sector; I am not that type, but I milk it on account of its value and saunter up. Milk it? Correct phrasing and usage? Close-ish, anyway, and close enough to forget about it.

“Roll down the window, winner” I emit, not voice-like, but into his cortex directly again, on account of its value to making my end-state point with him: this Thirsty is not to be reckoned lesser than. Anyway, he rolls it down, finds me there and shivers though it’s their summer, I think? He’s not realizing yet that he’s not heard my voice any, just felt it, but he’s realizing nevertheless.

“Do you know why I stopped you, winner?”

And he, hands on his steering wheel, keeping them in sight, all trained and nonchalant, he says, or starts to say, or croaks a little then quits: “I’m not…”

“Well enough and good! You have won! It’ll seem a meager winning at first, but trust Thirsty!” And now he’s realized really really realized and turns his head pivot-like toward me and then away all spring-loaded because he wants to see but doesn’t want to see Thirsty all the same. Wants to know how I got in his headspace. This I’ll never understand. If I were he and Thirsty not me, I’d turn old Thirsty full in the face and I stare me down, interstellar all the same.

“Well enough and good!” I repeat. “That was only play-like, of course you don’t know why I stopped you, or even perhaps why you stopped, on account of my lights were askew, but thank you kindly all the same.”

What a privilege it is to talk to these beasts this way in their motorcars.

“You clump up the freeway mightily, friend! And you’ve veered neatly where even I might’ve veered. But I–and oh by the way I’m Thirsty, forgot to mention that near-like–I got you here for only one reason and that’s to talk to you. What a privilege it is to speak to you in your motorcar this evening! You’ve won the show!”

At this he cut his engine.

“There’s something about to be coming eventually, can’t say what it is, can’t say how I know, sorry about that, very apologetic, but understand me that I know. Thirsty doesn’t offer quizzes just to cinch them, no sir! Thirsty’s honest. You can think of this like a lottery win, like the $13,000 your father won in earth years past, only excepting it’s not currency near as I can tell but knowledge and warning and the chance to miss all the danger.”

At this he snipped through his realizing and finally turned and looked at me, Thirsty, full in the face, and saw me as I am. I knew this would get him. Don’t think Thirsty doesn’t know things about even your father!

And so then he looked and so he saw my gray tilted features, cast off a little by the gravity difference and the lackadaisical masking I’d tacked on, these gray features coveted shadows in the moonlight and dim minimal backsplash of head lamps.

“How did you know that?” he asked me. First full sentence he’d said to me, and he even said it clear-like and through his mouth! Well enough and good!

“I know it because I ought to know it, new friend! It’s not much beyond that, wouldn’t lean hard-like upon it else I’ll run out of response modules. You know the lottery, though? Understand it clear-like?”

“Who are you? What do you want? You’re not police.” He stammered now.

“No, no, no, that’s all wrong. It doesn’t matter what I want, near as I can tell, excepting me wanting you to want to find a straighter path forward through the oncoming cinch. And who I am? I’m Thirsty! No police, no crime-like, no window, of course. Forget that soon. Remember though, do not forget what I am about to say as it amounts to your winnings, new friend. When you’re met with the nameless adversity, when first the TVs go haywire with their warnings and all of it’s crashing, this is what you must do: you must step outside your box and turn left, walk thirty feet, turn right, walk thirty more feet, and jump six times trampoline-like.”

Here I zipped under his realizing a secret packet which was more of his winnings.

“Past that, you’ll know by my inspiration-plant what you’ve got to do and where you’ve got to go. I know you’re wonder-vexed and about to bolt, but Do Not Forget, dear friend, do not forget this gift I’m giving you.”

At this he started his engine. And looked down at my folded arms. Saw me claw-like in his realizing. And skidded off, fast enough now. A good sign in old Thirsty’s eye piece.

I’m Thirsty like I was a minute ago, but still as hell now, and walking back now, and sure enough hoping he’ll heed me else he’ll forfeit those winnings.

 

Brian Evenson – “A Collapse of Horses”

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There’s something unfortunate that usually happens when you come across any sort of something in fragments and imagine that it’s perfect and then spend time away from it before circling back to look it full in the face.

Two years ago I read an assortment of Brian Evenson short stories and found them to be almost exactly what I wanted out of short fiction. Then I proceeded to read nothing more by him until buying A Collapse of Horses at a book store in Chicago back in September, and then finally reading the whole thing this month while I should’ve been studying for a math final.

This book was substantially less perfect than I imagined it would be, because of course it was. But still.

The first story in A Collapse of Horses finds two nameless men on horseback, winnowing along a trail, running away from someone (also nameless) toward shelter (that probably doesn’t exist). The man in front, who claims that the shelter that never comes is just up around the next bend, is bleeding from a gunshot wound. He’s bled so much that he should be dead, but he doesn’t seem to realize he should die. The story unfolds only slightly from there, through separation, temporary shelter, improbable reunification, an odd story told over a bonfire, but the whole thing hangs turgidly over the circling mass of the man who won’t die leading us to the shelter that won’t come.

Brian Evenson’s short stories rely, mostly, on a very similar structure. Something happened in the past to set up, in the narrator’s mind, a circling, roiling engine of fear, regret, pain, or anxiety. We are briefly introduced to that, and then rocketed forward in time so we can watch how that engine powers horrifying stasis.

I’m reading Robert Moor’s On Trails right now, and in it he talks about the short circuits that can happen in the path finding instincts of ants and caterpillars. Disrupt the little signals they send to one another and their neatly straight paths from food to home go haywire, and, often, circular. Moor introduces the image of a colony of ants caught in a circular swirl, unable to break the pattern. A heavy rain split the swirl in two and still they were dead locked until they were dead.

In the early part of the 20th century a scientist named Asa Schaeffer found (or claimed, anyway) that blindfolded humans could not, no matter how hard they tried, walk in a straight line for any amount of time. Maybe it’s because one of our legs is always slightly shorter than the other or weaker, or maybe it’s because of some other mystical substrate. However it happens, our instincts were thought to lead us to repeat, repeat, repeat until we wither. Some people theorized that circling had a biological underpinning, that absent outside forces or control, humans would just circle and circle forever.

The last story in A Collapse of Horses begins with two men (named this time) assaulting a fortress, but attacked by the inhabitants with rocks. The inhabitants can only throw the rocks so far, so as long as they stay out of range they’re safe. But night is coming, and with it, even more danger outside the range of the rock throwers. So the first man ventures inward. He’s cracked in the skull by a rock and collapses, either dead or unconscious, it’s unclear. The other man sneaks away, plotting, hoping his friend, if he’s still alive somehow, doesn’t think he’s being abandoned. The other man plans to return after night fall to retrieve his friend, but when he does, he finds his friend’s body gone. And in the darkness, he realizes he’s closer the wall than he thought, an easier target. Rocks fly at him and he’s injured, barely escapes.

Eventually his friend returns under mysterious circumstances (nothing is ever lost or gone in these stories, it’s only floating out of view, waiting to drift back at an unsettling moment) and begins to tell him a dreamlike story, one that structurally rhymes with the first story in the collection, about two men on horseback, the one in the front bleeding but not dying. Evenson doesn’t only send his characters around in circles, he does it to his readers, too. We’re never very far from where we started.

In one story a character tries to drive back to his childhood home–somewhere past Reno, Nevada–but seems to end up caught in an endless stretch of highway that he can’t pass through. In another, a character finds himself improbably reenacting exactly the same circumstances–calcuating how much oxygen remains in a closed system and if it’ll last until he’s rescued–he’d once only barely lived through, all the while required to obsessively repeat a cleaning. In a third, a man finds himself drawn to his undoing in a destructive relationship, able to put words to the fact that he should not be doing what he’s doing, but absolutely unable to stop himself. A fourth has inhuman creatures enacting a circular murderous ritual against humans all because of a linguistic slippage.

It turns out that the human impulse to circle is messier than Schaeffer imagined, but not too far off. Moor cites more recent work that finds that blindfolded humans don’t walk in clean circles, but they don’t typically find their way very far from the start either; people typically manage to travel only about 100 yards a day when lost. Without help, we’ll wander a little and then wind up back where we started, whether we realize it or not.

There’s a moment that happens in nearly every story in A Collapse of Horses where the narrator tries to run down the decision tree of possibilities. Like this moment from the collection’s final story:

He kept walking. He gathered some pinecones from the ground and crushed them between his boot and a flat stone, hoping to get something out of them, but there wasn’t anything inside that struck him as edible. Perhaps he didn’t know what to look for, or perhaps they were the wrong sort of pinecone, or perhaps he was simply too confused and tired to make any real sense of the world at all.

He’s  circling around “perhaps,” never making much headway, going hungry. These moments happen over and over in A Collapse of Horses but never manage to lose their twinge of horror, because that sense of looking forward and backward and seeing nothing but sameness, undifferentiated forever, and feeling overwhelmed by the inability to sort any of it, that stays scary forever. There are no monsters coming to eat you. There are no unspeakable forces. Evil is only people with different goals. There is just the world, ambivalent, all around you, slightly wrong and never changing, and no matter how far you walk, you’re no closer to the edge of the forest.

You’re Not so Fragile

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Thinking about telling Clarice about every person who has ever died from causation and natural selection. In the end it’s not so many because chalking most of them up is easy, like telling time with a digital wristpiece (takes only dim, temperate, scare quotes). This is how the thing shivers: 

Clarice fought hard for a reminder, though, with her simpering grip on “I’m so fragile. I’ll nearly die each time. Each time nearly and one time finally and then that last time a collection of every first time, all just but lovingly.”

The deep truth is that you can ever more be absolutely correct but also so painfully incorrect that you’ll wither into sunbursts.

It’s a three drug cocktail that the state typically uses to wilt its own subjects under uncooperative chemical moonlight. It’s a complicated process, calculating how much of what will conspire to kill a body, render it pimpled and popped off the surface of the earth. It’s all very complicated and easily ruined. This is the penalty.

Too much of this, too little of that, Clarice, and you’re in a cul-de-sac, a scrape on the forehead of remembering, quite enough to bury a tattooed Goldilocks under failed resume submissions until the end of days. And inside of all of this, the doctors, they won’t help you, them so busy off doing no harm in their great space cadet cafeteria, hurrying down hallways packed with gleam. 

“I’m absolutely fragile,” she shivered. “My skin cracks and aches and I wake up early every weekend, hopping and horrible. I chug liquor for the simplest swish.”

The state knows how many failures it took to brook the success rates. Only then did positive percentages glint into newsprint. The state’s got spreadsheets, racks and stacks of them. Hard drives packed in RAID array, downloading the web every second, siphoning mentions of news alerts into a tremendous terrible bucket, factoring functions out to squares and cubes of data sets. Sluiced.

Build an inbox out of paper trails, pointing outward. 

Ending a life is like cracking an egg. One tap too errant and yolk and everything after is counterbound.

Ending a life is like cracking an egg, hardboiled. The shell peels piecemeal. 

She was absolutely, herself, perpetually counterbound egg yolk with shifting, drifting yellow. Spectral.

I went on a run the other day and I listened to a podcast about the death penalty. I learned how hard it is to kill an inmate correctly and how two of the three drugs in the typical cocktail are in there just to make it look a little less gruesome. It was windy and I felt whipped, like fabric on the wind, until an old man talking about five men aiming at some criminal heart caught me, the fabric, on the trunk of a tree and I’ve been rustling there ever since.

You’re not so fragile, Clarice. You’re not so fragile, Kauffman. You’re not so fragile, any of you.

Please break as soon as you can. It’s easy. Ask me for help and then break.

Provenance, Mary Ruefle

In the fifth grade
I made a horse of papier-mache
and painted it white
and named it Aurora

We were all going to the hospital
each one with his little animal
to give to the girl who was
lying on her deathbed there
whose name I can’t recall

A classmate with freckles perhaps
or such small feet her footsteps
never mattered much

I did not want to give her anything
It seemed unfair she got to ride Aurora
whom I made with my own two hands
and took aside at birth and said go
while I had to walk
perhaps for a very long time

I thought perhaps the animals
would all come back
together and on one day
but they never did

And so I have had to deal with wild
intractable people all my days
and have been led astray in a world
of shattered moonlight and beasts and trees
where no one ever even curtsies anymore
or has an understudy

So I have gone up to the little room
in my face, I am making something
out of a jar of freckles
and a jar of glue

I hate childhood
I hate adulthood
And I love being alive

—Mary Ruefle, from The American Poetry Review, in The Best American Poetry Review 2011