Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Words I Use Too Much by Lily Herman

Here it be - the final installment of the L. Herman trilogy. It turns out that Darth Vader is not indeed her father, but just a seedy uncle with hair plugs who runs a used car lot in Hyattsville. --------------------------------------------------------------

Words I use too much

Depending on the context
conspiring or conspiracy, usually
in a positive light, like two people
pitching a tent in their own bedroom
just to have somewhere to put
their heads closer together, inhabit
where live would do just as well,
altar, not like change
but in a blood-of-the-lamb
edited-for-PBS kind of way,

He says she says
like after a decade of poems
I still can’t let a brother know
that someone is speaking
without having them say
She instead of I
in all the places di Prima said poets
are explorers, but not necessarily

Pussy twice over
because wimp is weak
and cunt reeks too much of poets
with both hands in their pockets
trying to ignore the climate
of the fifties, listening to Lady
Day, and calling men cats

I try to avoid bringing cats
into it, even when one
is the benevolent critic
warming my lap
as I write, and we both
know life is a simple series
of variations on trying
to get fed

Methodist, because their Christ
is not duty-bound to spend all
his time up like a public service
announcement on the cross
but will walk a little way
down the street with you
if you’re headed the same
direction, never trust a poet

who has to
disclaim confess reveal
because it means there’s
something they’re withholding
during all the sober hours
of their day, and they want
the reader to serve as their
incidental heir, which is a bane
that keeps on giving,

Benefactor because
to keep working I must be convinced
that somebody up there digs me

Heart as a physical object, not
the tacky wood-paneled room
in which one’s spirit animal dwells,
hips when I really mean
I feel fat, or I mean fucking,
or young women are a curse
all their glorious own, love
when I mean tailspin, or sea-
sickness, or an excuse
to stay up late

for excessive kindness, or excessive
unkindness, the train tracks
that I grew up next to and haven’t
been able to grow up from
and their many romance tongues
cargo freight boxcar
train-hopping or commuting,
depending on who I observe
in flight, the tunnels they conquer
and men who died burying their spikes
none of whom I knew personally
but if it was personal

I wouldn’t be writing about it,
in any room where two people manage
to hear each other while speaking quietly,
God, as a placeholder for any
really gorgeous sky or void or drug
like the useless zero you leave in after
the decimal point to keep the equation
balanced, math analogies
I don’t even understand, analogies
for heaven, for madness, for men,
a hundred burning bushes sounding off
like desert clockwork when the poem calls
for a fireworks display,

Solitude sounds better
than loneliness, Petrarch is the only man
who’s said, soul, without making
me gag, and I have no muse
so I don’t dare say it myself,

even though I am arguably
always writing to you, you
the most frequent flier of all
these words, who spend all your time
like an overnight security guard
watching me write and occasionally
when I’m gasping for air, you (dear)
grab the pen and with two hands
steadied by each other,
we finish the fucker off
with a period like a single shot
to the head


Lily Herman lives in Baltimore. A collection of her poems called Better than some, not as good as some others, was released by Furniture Press Books in 2011. She runs a reading series called “ILLITERATI” out of the Pent House Gallery in the Copy Cat building, and co-writes a blog of food stories called "What I Ate Where" with her cohort Adrian Shirk. She lives with seven dreamy humans and one cat, who, darling though he is, manages to stay almost entirely out of her poems.

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