Archive for June, 2011

It is the heart. The heart cannot stay,
Marked with the storm of the titled page
With all the appropriate shadows

Long in the cranium, sung and webbed
And finally useless, like a wine bottle,
cut-glass breasts, Occam’s Razor in a kettle on the stove

And Jesus Christ Relleno
Bound at the wrist, face frank, black eye,
Easter, Eastern states, an ostentation.

what is the heart, if it is not these things?
As strange as a starfish in the bathtub.
The truth is this: we say these arteries
And sinews are something. They simply aren’t.

Hung to the post, ill-grown, ill-gotten,
A stone, a sort of Pentecost of weeds

Organic strange growth called Ephesia
Euphoria, dipped from the hand, two
chocolate wedges, a woman, a world
pius in its call-to-arms, sweet liberty

avant et dernier, in medias res, in the flesh

Insatiable black furnace, the gorgon head
fetid, anaerobic, Pleiades, and germane Germans-
the bout of sadness, the last arch before the road

wanders to gravel, glows slowly up the mountain
all the while, we wonder, touched vaguely
by something seen before the shrill steel Adam

Called America, called I-am-not-what-I-believe-but-make

Think of that bowled upside down horizon
Tilted city in the terrible nameless raison d’etre
Of push, punch, missile, top top top.
The abstraction, units of production, das kaptial

Higher than killer bees and college dropouts
Or the beach waves in Singapore, dead
Wood, bodies whose narrowed eyes

No longer blink away the sun, or salt
What are these hands that type, this tongue that wags
Found in my own poesies, my troubled longing
For fame, sense, sensibility, wonder, warm rooms

The rope, the knife, the pill, the essential.
No one knows what is really going on here.
We have small orders, functions, and then resistance.

This is all. The best are full of passionate insensitivity
The worst sell their compassionate
lies: the woman’s thighs, the endless sun,

the pulse, the glitch, the aspirin, the Adonis who
lays down hope: Sex is our savior, and the only thing
that binds us, still, to life, to each other. The heart is the

absentee father of sex, the heart phones it in.
But, before you can forget it existed, the heart
Requires itself, proves itself, usually through a

Sort of negative logic, an impenetrable moan.


-Nina Alvarez


Read Full Post »

A tall girl should stand up straight

A guy who likes you should call.

A pretty girl should smile.

An almost pretty girl should smile more.

A girl who wants to be noticed should wear makeup, not glasses.

A girl with hair as blonde as yours should wear eyeliner.

A person with cool skin tones should wear warm colors.

A friend who invites you to stay with them should be nice to you.

On a sunny day, you should go outside.

You should feel bad about not being in the life of your friend’s son, like you said you would.

You should hate them for what they did.

You should feel bad about how he said, that most recent guy, that he was no longer attracted to you.

You shouldn’t test people. You shouldn’t push people. You should hide the severity of your thoughts.

You should starve before eating other people’s food.

You should have done more with your graduate degree.

You should have savings, by age 33, instead of $25,000 in debt.

You should have been a better planner.

You should have been a better investor.

You should have been a better friend and not been so difficult.

You should have figured out how to save the world and done it by now.

You should have figured out how to make a lot of money without working for someone else.

You should have joined a company and just stopped thinking.

You should have done a PhD and taught.

You should have had a novel finished by now.

You should have had more boyfriends. You are cute enough. What is wrong with you?

You should have spent less time thinking about yourself. Your self.

You should have found a way to work it out with your sister.

You should have not told that last guy when you were hurt or upset.

You should have learned to just enjoy sex for its own sake by now.

You should have waited until it was obvious the sex would be meaningful.

You should be married with babies by now.

You should have given more to the people you met. You know, just accepted them more.

You should have more fun, be more light-hearted.

You should have enough energy and be mentally healthy enough to get out there and really live.

You should have written more at the writing residency. You shouldn’t have tried to find romance while you were there. You should have been okay going to bed alone.

You should have found a way to tell off those people you’ve lived with who have been so bossy and controlling, instead of being steamrolled.

You should have never had to live with other people. You should have figured out how to make a lot of money and live alone by now.

You shouldn’t judge fat people.

You should never become fat.

You should be more like Matthew Dickman, his book of poems in in the Harvard bookstore. And he went to VSC.

You should be more like Christina Olson. She has her shit together. And a book of poems.

You should be more like Rachel Ephraim. She is getting married, and writes good fiction, and lives in Brooklyn.

You should be more like any woman who can actually keep a man.

You should be more like Tom Hanks. In fact, you should be Tom Hanks.

You should have written better poems.

You should have published a book by now.

You should have figured out how to inspire Nick Witkowski.

You should have made huge strides in becoming famous and simultaneously changing the world by now.

You should have memorized more poetry.

You should have had sex with less people.

You should have had sex with more people.

You should have never moved home with your parents for three years. That was bad.

You should have known who he was and what he would do to you from the first time you talked. And you did, which means you should have been stronger and just walked away.

You should be writing every morning and making lots of money every afternoon and having fun every evening.

You should have all the resources, food, and money you want.

You should have throngs of people listening to you.

You should have real power and influence in this world.

You should have been funnier, cooler, more interesting when the funny, cool, interesting people were around.

You should be calmer, more zen, have better self-esteem. After all the work you’ve done on yourself.

You should have the means to do whatever you want, including help others.

You shouldn’t need help from anyone.

You should be happier.

You should be prettier.

You should be smarter.

You should be clearer about purpose, about who you are.

You should be more who you are.

You should be who they want you to be, then you’d be less lonely.

You should listen to …

-Nina Alvarez

Read Full Post »


Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example–
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must take it seriously,
so much so and to such a degree
that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
your back to the wall,
or else in a laboratory
in your white coat and safety glasses,
you can die for people–
even for people whose faces you’ve never seen,
even though you know living
is the most real, the most beautiful thing.
I mean, you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you’ll plant olive trees–
and not for your children, either,
but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier.

Let’s say we’re seriously ill, need surgery–
which is to say we might not get up
from the white table.
Even though it’s impossible not to feel sad
about going a little too soon,
we’ll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we’ll look out the window to see if it’s raining,
or still wait anxiously
for the latest newscast. . .
Let’s say we’re at the front–
for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
we might fall on our face, dead.
We’ll know this with a curious anger,
but we’ll still worry ourselves to death
about the outcome of the war, which could last years.
Let’s say we’re in prison
and close to fifty,
and we have eighteen more years, say,
before the iron doors will open.
We’ll still live with the outside,
with its people and animals, struggle and wind–
I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
we must live as if we will never die.

This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet–
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space . . .
You must grieve for this right now
–you have to feel this sorrow now–
for the world must be loved this much
if you’re going to say “I lived”. . .
-Nazim Hikmet, translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing

Read Full Post »

There was a time I could have wanted it

Wanted what I thought it was

Wanted what I was with it

Wanted it because


There was a time I could have sunk in it

Sunk in it as a single does

Sunk in it, saying that

What it was, it was


There was a time I could have drowned in it

Drowned in it and facial fuzz

I could have, would have drowned in it

Just because, because


There was a time for fricatives

I felt them standing on my tongue

Felt for fun and felt for food

And what I sensed, I sung.


There will come again some sibilance

Come again that shirring sigh

He will hold me shoulder width

I will hold him shoulder high

Read Full Post »

Believer in Coffee and Sensible Dates

 A courtly love made into rape

A happy girl.

A name, a thought shoved into clean hands with desperation

A new

A sudden and sullen heartbeat

A ticket to the fourth of July in a paper cup

A utopian progeny, a step forward, looking of the outfit, the first out, the wonderful one

Across the entire city, this city that holds me, that keeps me asleep

all the world is my forgotten stage. I thought I was here alone

Almost knows me

And almost knows me

And awake, and awake and asleep

and its all okay

And so we tend to try to do those things that won’t kill us

and they are laughing

As the element of unbeing


But just doesn’t quite

But won’t make us live either

Echoes in the birds beaks

get into the boat  Betsy

get into the truck Victor

Given life

Go and go away

God’s swinging on his words, and the wound of

greenest grass singed frayed like jeans

Hanging the crowd

I get into the heart of it, I get into the me that reveals

I love to think of these things- the way the sunrises and falls over the absence of a face

I stand behind you beside you

I stand underneath you and in you, transferring all my love into these eyes

in plans

In your workyard suits and your elegant disdain

It is given no more

Jehova and the five cent love. Touring out through the special spread cosmos

Just go on, and the going on will return you will be

Know me.

Like a happy girl

Longing to be a love, to be loved

Love to revel


me here in the ether

No matter what you do today

no one told you that you would become a computer

oh they’ve been watching

or a believer in coffee and sensible dates

scoop it up

scoop me into you

Scraping seaward

Scraping through Philadelphia

Scraping westward

so this is my first my first moment to sweep it into the brightly lit corner

Sometimes for weeks


Spine of indifference

saint of the stars over culebra

Such dice-throwing avant-guardism

Tearing and torn across

That doesn’t reveal what it doesn’t reveal

that plan themselves

That slammed me down

The credit of a long line

The neutral day.

The revels

The spindle and stretch and cling in their perfect webs, across the entire city

the war was never over

them in the audience

This is what you are

This is what you are in your tortured generic friendlessness

Through vast spaces Blanchot dwarfed, defined

To be a poet with wide waterways of theory

To this I say—

Today, in the first and last reports,

Too much of this

Too much of this chugging

Under a universal arena


we are all laughing together

When feeling was truck full of roots traded from the west

When he bled pink in the sun

When he sang from Paris rooftops

Who wants all and knows none

With all of you there is slice of metal

You might still wake up tomorrow


-Nina Alvarez

Read Full Post »