The Massachusetts Cultural Council has just awarded me a 2010 fellowship in poetry! Read the press release here.
My application packet included poems from my chapbook Swallow (Amsterdam Press, 2009) and my forthcoming chapbook Barbie at 50 (Cervena Barva Press), as well as some uncollected work. The following prose-poem, included in that group, won the Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Prize from the literary journal Quarter After Eight, and was recently published in QAE issue #16. (This $200 prize is currently accepting entries through June 15.)
I collect packets of soup noodles. The last pages of books from the prison library. I am a collector of others’ facial expressions. If you’ve found it hard to move your eyebrows lately, that was probably me. I collect the different colors the day appears in. Soup noodles crackle. There are many colors that are called gray. Dawn light and potato soup and regulation wool socks. I would collect them all, except I have nowhere to store the soup. Cellophane wrappers crackle as if something more was in them than you could see through. Fire and footsteps. Even in here there are hobbies I have no time for. I do not collect rats. They have no numbers. Unlike us. Every rat is the same number, meaning, more than you can see. Rats do not have the patience to collect soup noodles. That is why they will temporarily be your friend, again and again. Rats shrink from the sound of crackling, like a teenage boy forced to read a nineteeth-century novel of manners. The Victorians were so unsure of themselves that they collected the hair of the dead. Wove it into fetishes of gray flower brooches. Because they didn’t know anymore whether the soul had another place to go home to. Rapping and tapping, the dead return to turn out their pocket litter, to prove themselves by the ticket stubs and cigarette butts their unique past collected. Proving they are made of paper and ash. Like the clipboard woman sent by the state to ask me to circle how I am feeling today. I feel like the number 4. She does not want any soup noodles. I have found that most people, when they hear the sound of crackling, remember their dream of being followed through a dark wood.