A Modern Woman in the Suburban Wild by Guia Nocon

(for Anne, for Sylvia, and for Tennessee)

It was 4:37 in the morning stepping out.
With no natural light, street lamps
curtsied each to each golden gowns
pooling around their feet.
I walked in shadow.

Feeling small, I traveled
a block and suddenly
Jen touched my shoulder
and we were playing at Anne and Sylvia
in Portland.
We talked of long cures
and all the boys we failed to manipulate
into loving us.

We couldn’t remember
the way home, so
we hid in some Oregon Grape bushes
while the rain misted our faces
just loving each other.

The past is so clear sometimes
it hurts to look at it. Memories
slip through the blood vessels
like a million bits of glass.

Even now I can smell the oil and steel
of the Santa Cruz trestle
that connects the Beach Flats to Seabright,
feel the sleepy drummer beat behind my eyes
as, single file, we followed
the lights of the ferris wheel
into this granite place in our hearts.

Now older, we look like our mothers
and turn away like our fathers.
We have become sadists, cheap
serial daters, boozers,
hopeful, shining, still beautiful.

Losing most things now: friends, brothers,
direction, dignity – whole jet planes
disappearing into greedy, indifferent oceans.

I am afraid.
For godssakes, where is that part of me
that thought everything was funny?

Not laughing now, just searching,
rounding a corner, arms outstretched
to that granite place in your heart,
throwing hallelujahs into the air,
remembering Satie’s mournful piano
during our long cab ride to the basement
in San Francisco, towards Justin’s death,
our dear friend, that beautiful boy.

A stranger’s laughter reaches out to me,
I startle and turn for home.
Searching through motion what I lost in space.

It’s unsettling to realize that there are
wild parts of this world
where you can still get irretrievably lost.

This Earth,
it is such a big, blinding place
full of things we can’t ever know
and we are such small, bewildered



from the Her soundtrack scored by Arcade Fire

So it goes…

I’ve been working on a playlist series.  It’s done now.

Part One: Crush

  1. Beach House – Astronaut
  2. Broken Social Scene – Sweetest Kill
  3. The National – Slow Show
  4. Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes
  5. Little Dragon – Feather
  6. The Microphones – Between Your Ear and the Other Ear
  7. Clarence Carter – Slip Away
  8. Sharon Van Etten – I Wish I Knew
  9. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Just Like Honey
  10. St. Vincent – Landmines

Part Two: Contact

  1. Entrance – I’m So Glad
  2. Jolie Holland – The Littlest Birds
  3. The Mountain Goats – Going to Georgia
  4. The Magnetic Fields – Absolutely Cuckoo
  5. CITIZENS! – True Romance
  6. Dntel – Rock My Boat (featuring Mia Doi Todd)
  7. Beyonce – XO
  8. Stars – Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It
  9. The National – Apartment Story
  10. Majical Cloudz – Downtown
  11. Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
  12. Music from the Major Motion Picture, Her – Photograph
  13. Cigarettes After Sex – Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby

Part Three: Cut

  1. Hayden – Damn This Feeling
  2. The Beatles – For No One
  3. Colin Hay – I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You
  4. The Black Keys – Meet Me In The City
  5. Electrelane – Cut and Run
  6. LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great
  7. The Echo Friendly – Same Mistakes
  8. The Microphones – Headless Horseman
  9. The National – I Need My Girl
  10. Music from the Major Motion Picture, Her – On The Beach
  11. The Mountain Goats – No Children

Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith

One of the women greeted me.
I love you, she said. She didn’t
Know me, but I believed her,
And a terrible new ache
Rolled over in my chest,
Like in a room where the drapes
Have been swept back. I love you,
I love you, as she continued
Down the hall past other strangers,
Each feeling pierced suddenly
By pillars of heavy light.
I love you, throughout
The performance, in every
Handclap, every stomp.
I love you in the rusted iron
Chains someone was made
To drag until love let them be
Unclasped and left empty
In the center of the ring.
I love you in the water
Where they pretended to wade,
Singing that old blood-deep song
That dragged us to those banks
And cast us in. I love you,
The angles of it scraping at
Each throat, shouldering past
The swirling dust motes
In those beams of light
That whatever we now knew
We could let ourselves feel, knew
To climb. O Woods—O Dogs—
O Tree—O Gun—O Girl, run
O Miraculous Many Gone—
O Lord—O Lord—O Lord—
Is this love the trouble you promised?


What use is knowing anything if no one is around by Kaveh Akbar

What use is knowing anything if no one is around
to watch you know it? Plants reinvent sugar daily
and hardly anyone applauds. Once as a boy I sat
in a corner covering my ears, singing Quranic verse

after Quranic verse. Each syllable was perfect, but only
the lonely rumble in my head gave praise. This is why
we put mirrors in birdcages, why we turn on lamps

to double our shadows. I love my body more
than other bodies. When I sleep next to a man, he becomes
an extension of my own brilliance. Or rather, he becomes
an echo of my own anticlimax. I was delivered

from dying like a gift card sent in lieu of a pound
of flesh. My escape was mundane, voidable. Now
I feed faith to faith, suffer human noise, complain
about this or that heartache. The spirit lives in between

the parts of a name. It is vulnerable only to silence
and forgetting. I am vulnerable to hammers, fire,
and any number of poisons. The dream, then: to erupt
into a sturdier form, like a wild lotus bursting into

its tantrum of blades. There has always been a swarm
of hungry ghosts orbiting my body–even now,
I can feel them plotting in their luminous diamonds

of fog, each eyeing a rib or a thighbone. They are
arranging their plans like worms preparing
to rise through the soil. They are ready to die
with their kind, dry and stiff above the wet earth.


Guilty Party by The National

 You’re sleeping night and day
How’d you do it
Me I am wide awake
Feeling defeated

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I know it’s not working
I’m no holiday
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
We just got nothing
Nothing left to say

Another year gets away
Another summer of love
I don’t know why I care
We miss it every summer

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I’m the one doing this
There’s no other way
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
I just got nothing, nothing left to say

It all, all catches up to me
It all, all catches up to me all the time

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I know it’s not working, I’m no holiday
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
We just got nothing, nothing left to say

I say your name
I say I’m sorry
I’m the one doing this, there’s no other way
It’s nobody’s fault
No guilty party
I just got nothing, nothing left to say

It all, all just catches up to me
It all, all catches up to me all the time

Aubade by Guia Nocon

I see you now more clearly than when you were alive.
I want your ghost to haunt me so I know you’re dead.

Desperately, I want you to know,
while your body struggled through the current,
limbs tumbling into greater darkness,
tangled in something you immediately without shock
but probably with no small amount of regret,
knew you couldn’t get out of,
I want you to know,

I never thought you’d actually go away.

I certainly didn’t know I could miss you.

And now — God forgive me (but maybe let’s leave him out of this) –
I grieve for your violence, everlasting stain. You are dead and I
am so relieved I am fucking crying.
The joy almost stifled by shame
except how could a child not love the death of its monster?
How can you ask a child to mourn the absence of terror?

I see you now, floating in panic, wishing
for a familiar face in the weeds
as the rock came to kiss you.

Did you see my face?
Was it me you clung to?

Now I wish I could reach out after all these years
and hold you. Hold you then let you go
into that deepest dark where the water embraced you,
contained your malice, while the birds circled overhead.

Can you hear me?
I whisper into the darkest place.
Can you hear me?
I’m shouting now.
To you, my forever lost.
Can you hear me?
I hear the birds and I panic.