That cliché quote from Anna Karenina

You know all the boring stuff you read as a teenager about how “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”? One day I grew up and I was boring like that too.

Birth Control


The levy passed today
I called my mom and told her
All about it
How sad I was that it passed by
Such a slim margin

I texted my husband
Said that the elementary school
Just two blocks from our house
Will be standing proud and ready
When our children come tumbling in

I saw myself walking with a younger
Amber-haired bull-headed
Better version of us
Showing them how to use the crosswalk

I always thought they would have his optimism
And my steady hand
His laugh
And my strong jaw

When I found out
My eyes didn't bother to sting

I've known since before I met him
Before I tried to pour anyone
Into that wound in my life
That I would inherit my mother's
Watchful grief

I stood, autumn-still
In front of the school
And wondered why I didn't learn
To look both ways for liars.

A draft

We said for better or for worse
So stop yelling
I never wanted to be a woman who flinched.

I came up with that much, but then what? Another cliche, maybe something about “’till death do us part”? Yeah, didn’t figure. Another for the boneyard.

Get Well Soon

I'm waiting
With the downy heart
Of someone who's never had
To say goodbye to a friend

I want to know
If I was kind enough
If I was there, if I listened
The way I should have

I'll wear the watch
He told me not to give back
When mine ran out of batteries
And wound down

Another Postcard from Greece

I’ve really been enjoying the museums I’ve visited on this trip, especially those in Crete. I particularly enjoy staring into the eyes of the statues and wondering what they’re thinking. Here’s a haiku from one of those experiences. I found it in the bottom of a bottle of Rose, so cut it some slack.

I lived, didn't I?
In a way I did not die
Being seen sustains

Postcard

My husband and I were sitting at a cafe in Athens, looking at a cathedral and eating feta dip in silence. I felt like a character in a Hemingway short story – maybe “Hills Like White Elephants,” but with all of the grand openness and none of the depressing stuff. Here’s the start of a poem I’d like to work on:

Oh, to be an old woman on an airplane
To be expected
And still spry enough to lift my own bag
But creased enough to merit a steadying hand on my arm

More Found Poetry

I set up reminders on my phone to remind me to blog, not that I really heed them. Why? Maybe because I’m lazy. Maybe because they get lost in a sea of other notifications. Maybe – hell, probably – both. Here’s a found poem I constructed out of the notifications from WordPress, the Calm app, and more that I’m ignoring on my phone’s drop-down menu just now.

Storage Space Running Out

Mindfulness reminder
Tap to learn more
Take a few calm deep breaths

Update available
Memory for you
New voicemail

Clear the clutter
This is your reminder to create something today

Don't miss out

Don’t Reach for Me

I feel like lately, with offices and bars and theaters reopening, people are out, but they’re out with giant wounds – the kind of wounds that show sinew and bone. Some people have emerged with an extra thirty pounds, a stack of unemployment checks, a mental health diagnosis or two… Some people have emerged alone. I have emerged awkward. The lack of chit-chat in the aisles of the grocery store, and the fact that I didn’t have to flash a perfunctory smile at a dozen or more people a day have left me wooden and stammering. Here’s a poem about how I fit into this new scene… Or don’t.

How Can I Help You

So far I’ve gotten by 
On good wine
And ignorance

I thought that divorce was
One of those things,
You know it’s out there
But you don’t bump into it
In the checkout aisle

You don’t worry about it hurting you or yours.
It’s for real housewives of various cities
And that aunt you avoid at Thanksgiving

You don’t rehearse what you’ll say
If divorce breezes in the door at a house party
Or if it tells you that your blouse looks nice. 

You don’t know how to put someone’s divorce
Into the box with the other forbidden dinner table topics
Like hemorrhoids and that football player
Who either does or does not disrespect our country. 

I cannot give out advice about divorce
Because I cannot even write a good poem about it

A Rejection and Other Saturday Thoughts

I finally got rejected by the New Yorker! Why “finally”? So I can stop wondering about it. I was involved with the translation of a (very dry) philosophy book, in which the philosopher mentioned that there’s a sense of relief when a dropped glass shatters, because you’re no longer worried about catching it. Here’s a poem about a different sort of ending.

Please, Mom

Carry me
Before I am born
Then when I'm too tired to walk
And
Metaphorically, when I'm too ignorant
To forge through life
Unassisted

Later

Bury me
Because I know you'll do a good job
And you give the best eulogies
And I could never face your corpse
Without asking it for advice

Emergence

I have a rash on my face, my laptop is perhaps-hopelessly broken, and (more importantly) the world is still being ravaged by a pandemic. That said, there’s no real excuse for not writing. Anyways, here’s this:

Dark nights and fireflies
The sun's rays peeking through my blinds
When there's light
I think of you

An Anniversary, and Other Things

Happy anniversary, The New Yorker! How has the world treated you for the past year, when you weren’t opening my submission? You don’t have to tell me you don’t give a damn, love – that’s what the “Submissions” page on Submittable.com is for.

Some good news, though: my writing partner, who has watched me barf without a shirt on and get married (NOT in the same day) had a poem get published on The Voices Project – here’s a link http://www.thevoicesproject.org/poetry-library/funeral-rites-by-taylor-grueser#comments Try to leave a better comment than mine, just try! Alright, it’s not much of a challenge. But seriously, this poem is so meditative and raw.

I wanted to put a poem in this post, but I feel that it would detract from Taylor’s accomplishment and the New Yorker’s insult. Here’s a haiku, as a compromise:

What am I to do
In a world that cannot hear
Having found my voice