This weekly feature goes out to to all the ladies with friendie-dude problems. (I guess also to the dudes with friendie-lady problems, but I don't feel as bad for you since you have more power to level up the relationship at any point in time. #truth #ldebatemeifyoudare)
Sierra DeMulder presents the contradictions, the inner turmoil, the frustration in such a way that is at once generously forgiving and poignantly condemning. This piece is brilliant.
Transcript: (Sorry, Sierra, that the form isn't correct. I had to guess. Also, I highlighted a few of my favorite lines.)
On watching someone you love love somebody else. You will be out with friends when the news of her existence will be accidentally spilled all over your bar stool. Respond calmly as if it was only a change in weather, a punch line you saw coming. After your fourth shot of cheap liquor, leave the image of him kissing another woman in the toilet.
In the morning, her name will be in every headline: car crash, robbery, flood. When he calls you, ignore the hundreds of ropes untangling themselves in your stomach. You are the best friend again. He invites you over for dinner and you say yes too easily. Remind yourself this isn’t special, it’s only dinner, everyone has to eat. When he greets you at the door, do not think for one second you are the reason he wore cologne tonight.
Someone told you once, a soul mate is not the person who makes you the happiest, but the one who makes you feel the most. Who conducts your heart to bang the loudest, who can drag you giggling with forgiveness from the cellar they locked you in. It has always been him.
In his kitchen, he will hand-feed you a piece of red pepper. His laugh will be low and warm and it will make you feel like candlelight. Do not think this is special. Do not count on your fingers the number of freckles you could kiss too easily. Try to think of pilot lights or olive oil, not everything you have ever loved about him, or it will suddenly feel boiling and possible and so close. You will find her bobby pins laying innocently on his bathroom sink. Her bobby pins. They look like the wiry legs of spiders, splinters of her undressing in his bed. Do not say anything. Think of stealing them, wearing them home in your hair. When he hugs you goodbye, let him kiss you on the forehead. Settle for target practice.
At home, you will picture her across town pressing her fingers into his back like wet cement. You will wonder if she looks like you, if you are two bedrooms in the same house. Did he fall for her features like rearranged furniture? When he kisses her, does she taste like new paint?
You will want to call him. You will go as far as holding the phone in your hand, imagine telling him unimaginable things like “You are always ticking inside of me and I dream of you more often than I don’t. My body is a dead language and you pronounce each word perfectly.”
Do not call him. Fall asleep to the hum of the VCR. She must make him happy. She must be...she must be his favorite place in Minneapolis.
You are a souvenir shop where he goes to remember how much people miss him when he is gone.
You can learn more about Sierra DeMulder and her poetry here.
You can be the brains and I can be the brains. You can be the brawn and I can be the brawn. You can be the boss and I can be your dame.
Let's be pool sharks together. Let's hang out in pools that do not belong to us. Let’s swim around with cardboard fins and neon floaty wings. When they tell us it's private property, let's chomp our teeth at them and then sing I’m in the mood for love/simply because you’re near me. Let’s give the world some absurdity to jot in their diaries. Let's ride down Main Street on rusty bikes. I will be a suffragette in bloomers and a Sunday bonnet. You will have a monocle and a moustache. Let’s emancipate me, baby. You like your woman emancipated, don’t you baby. Let’s yell it into megaphones one front porch to the next:
THE WORLD IS ABSURD.
Let’s not stop there. Let’s put on our Bonnie and Clyde costumes. Let’s fill our arms with lies like baby chickens hatched and counted. Let’s sell our lies to ‘em all. Let’s get real good at card tricks.You could charm ‘em with your smile; I could bat my eyelashes.
Let’s pull a fast one with our arm-filled lies. But, please, let’s give each other only truth. Tell me you can do it better than any of the guys who tried to make a home in my no, my stop, my wait not this and I will believe you.
I’ll believe you, baby. For real this time. The world is incurably absurd. You’ll get some buddies to join Hell’s Angles— the mathematically inclined biker gang of your brilliant imagination—and I'll be your ol’ lady with my hair twisted up in curlers at night. You’ll still think I’m bangable. Let’s wear leather jackets so tourists will take black and white pictures of us, me in my red lipstick and you in your white tee and blue jeans.
Let’s ball that absurdity up into something beautiful; we’ve got tomorrows in spades.
But then. You’ve been doing so many math problems, angling yourself closer to and then farther from me. You read one out loud one night: A beautiful woman leans against a brick wall.The angle made by her feet and the ground is 6 degrees less than 7 times the angle made by her body against the wall. Will she stick around when I get too old for this? This is when I realize that you’ve been doing all the calculating. You have been tainting our inertia with your calculating. And then maybe I’ll realize I’m fed up with all the calculating. I am tired of bleaching my hair blond. And I’m tired of the cigarettes, and the godawful diner grilled cheese sandwiches, and your compadres banging on the door at 3 a.m. with the drunken revelation that the answer has always been 46.
This is when I realize the world is too absurd. This is when I say, this is my last shot of whiskey for a while. You didn't have to make it inevitable, baby. Let’s let several wasted years pass between that night and the night we see each other again. Let’s let the silence heal all wounds. I thought you wouldn’t find me in the desert, what with all the stars so crisp out here and all. But here you are on a white horse painted black,
Let’s be a team, you say. You can be the brains and I can be the brains. Let’s talk about Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne instead of fumbling through apologies. Let’s put on our Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne costumes, fill our arms with each other and dance our last years like they’re all watching. Like they’re all whispering in their seats, like they’re all clapping. Like there’s gunna be a rave review in the paper tomorrow.
When we take our bow, let’s think, all this time and it’s still better to dream with you than about you.
I'm going to try to feature a poem by an author other than myself once a week. We'll see how this goes.
When my body had forgotten its purpose, when it just hung off my brainstem like whipped mule. When my hands only wrote. When my mouth only ate. When my ass sat, my eyes read, when my reflexes were answers to questions we all already knew. Remember how it was then that you slid your hand into me, a fork in the electric toaster of my body. Jesus, where did all these sparks come from? Where was all this heat? Remember what this mouth did last night? And still, this morning I answer the phone like normal, still I drink an hour’s worth of strong coffee. And now I file. And now I send an email. And remember how my lungs filled with all that everything? Remember how my heart was an animal you released from its cage? Remember how we unhinged? Remember all the names our bodies called each other? Remember how afterwards, the steam rose from us, like a pair of smiling ghosts?
Anyway. Yes, I like constructive criticism. In fact, I long
for it. I would kiss it every day. I would caress it like a baby kitten.
I recently decided that there is value in putting unpolished work out into the ether. This is a big step for me (perfectionist that I am).
To make this step mean something, I would like to be able to start polishing said work. This is why I need you. Help me see what I do not. I may not always take your suggestions. But they help me expand my view of my writing.
If you be so kind as to constructively criticize my work, I
would appreciate it if you would...
A. Remember that, although I am openly asking for ways to
improve my writing, I am still a delicate flower. So tread gently, but be honest.
B. However, if you like something, say so! Please include specifics. I like to know what I am doing well.
This type of comment helps me a lot:
I really liked this
line “___________” because of X reason. I didn’t understand “_______________”
for X reason. I would like more clarification here ____________.
I lost interest by _____ point. You could probably take out
__________ line and ________ line and maintain meaning.
For some reason, the fourth stanza simply doesn’t move me. I
can see why it's there, but I just don’t like it. Is there a way
you could take it out?
If you just want to tell me I’m ultimate fabulous
wonderful amazing and to never ever change, I’ll take that too. But I’ll be a
little bummed out.
You get my drift.
Help me hone this craft, folks! I will be forever grateful.
Plant something that deserves to live and let it grow. I
will adore your farmer’s tan and all that it signifies. Plant something
beautiful in my heart. I think alfalfa is beautiful.
Some days the Ice Queen will return, blackening the earth at
my feet. She will breathe frost onto all the buds you so delicately brought to
life. Remind me that God doesn’t care where I’ve been, only where I’m going. It’s
a cliché. But it’s enough warmth to lull the Ice Queen back to slumber.
Take your shoes off for me so I don’t have to barefoot
trudge my way into that church alone. Make a burning bush of me. I will put the
fire out with my tears. Rebuild, rebuild, rebuild until I understand.
Acknowledge my faults. No matter how true your love, I will never
wish to be labeled perfect. Let my
faults be the map and I will bring a book for cross-country hours. I will let
that engine hum.
Do dishes with me after dinner. With suds up to your elbows,
tell me stories I’ve heard before. As I dry each porcelain plate, each pan or fork or spoon, I
will let your stories wash over me tingling with new. I just want to be by you.
Never offer me the moon. They renamed me Saturn so I will
remember the way they pushed so many moons into my orbit (60 moons and
counting). I never asked for this. Wipe the slate of all their empty promises.
Leave me naked for a time so the universe can rebuild my magnetism slowly.
Instead of so many moons, offer me something tangible. When
I am a hundred miles out of earshot, say “I’d sell my truck for her.” I want to
feel the truth of it echo through my bones and shiver electric out my fingers.
like really, truly, very, really really truly really honest—
I would tell myself that it happened when you didn’t want to go
to that birthday party alone. I would tell myself that it was the quiet
pleading that kept me from retreating. I would tell myself it was they way you pretended not to care. I would smile.
What a Cheshire smile it would be,
the one following the salty pricks of my own blood on my own
“Nevertheless I think you’re upsetting people.”
And then there would be daisies and gravestones. Sunflowers.