This book is not designed for you if you are feint of heart. If you have a history of psychiatric problems, especially if you have a tendency towards insomnia and self-flagellation. If you believe in the soul of soul, the logic of logic, the meaning of meaning, the loss of loss. If you are weak of eye, mind, or heart, and fear you are becoming but a husk of a fellow, a mere shadow of a shadow of who you once were. Common side effects include aches and chills, dizziness, and a rash that begins at the tips of the toes and proceeds to the navel in the shape of a small red wave, followed by a tendency towards melancholia and genital itching. Even your pubic hair will turn gray overnight.
1. My Secret
I know I should never tell anyone about this, but sometimes, when I have to write a blurb, I go to Barnes and Noble, and I read the backs of all types of books. Books by and for pet lovers, poets, star-gazers, magicians, trapeze artists, sexual athletes, businessmen. I mean to say, I read the backs of everything. Then I copy the best blurbs onto note cards, one sentence fragment at a time. At home I cut these blurbs up so they're just fragments of fragments. Then I cut them into fragments of fragments of fragments. I place them in a shoe box (I call this my fishpond), and I shake the box. I shake it three times for good luck. I take out the cards and arrange them on my page.
In this way I have composed many nice blurbs.
I hate writing blurbs. It's true. I think, sadly, that nice things are boring to say, and to say them nicely is even more boring. And to be believable? (Well, best not to worry about that. Best to say incomprehensible praises, in Latin say, or maybe Ancient Greek.)
3. An Ode to Denise Duhamel
Right now I am trying to write a blurb for Denise Duhamel's fantastic new book called Ka-Ching, and I love, love Denise. Who doesn't? But how can I say it?
Denise is one of the poets I actually look forward to reading? (Okay, maybe that's not diplomatic.)
Even her sonnets, her pantoums, and her sestinas are natural and fun and don't posture as if to say, see? I'm a poet. Smarter than you are, you dumb-ass reader.
And they make me want to stand up and clap and say wow, and sometimes I do. (Now I sound like a cheerleader with pompoms, and it's true. I am.)
And I love how Denise levels the playing field so words like Maidenform, nubbins, and Captain Hook are all in the same poem, and every topic and word is as serenely present in her work as every other word or topic, as if all can be a natural part of the day's thoughts and scenery—and it is—
which reminds me of how Denise was the first person who really taught me how to give a good reading. I told her I was afraid to read orgasm poems in front of an audience. She admitted that people are a little freaked out by pussies, for example, and they would probably expect me to be somehow a woman in flames, a woman in red, or totally hip or flip, so I should be just as everyday as I am. Dress up as if I were going to church or maybe a nice cocktail party. Wear pearls, a plain black dress, flats, and red lipstick. Look all prim and proper like the woman I was raised to be and just say, as casually as if I was talking about the weather, Whenever I go out, I carry a pussy with me. Sometimes the pussy talks to me . . .
And smile sweetly, as if this happens every day. Now doesn't it?
Of course she gave me the instructions in a loud voice in the middle of restaurant that went suddenly quiet as the folks at the tables around us stopped even lifting and lowering their forks. There wasn't even a chink-chink. No, everyone else wanted to know, too, just how to read pussy poems. In a black dress. With red lipstick. In New York City.
4. Another Ode to Denise Duhamel
Reading Denise I always have this urge to call her up and say yeah, and wow, and me, too, and oh gross, and yes, yes, really I want to talk about your poems, like the one about Barbie who is trying to have sex with Ken, and I remember thinking poor Barbie, and Ken really was a sorry excuse for a male. I’ve never liked a square-jawed man with a crew cut and no dick, but a lot of women would. I know. It’s sad. But I digress . . .
Because the truth is I am newly in love with Denise’s poem about a woman writing a poem in a Maidenform bra, called "I Dreamed I Wrote This Sestina in my Maidenform Bra," and I thought and I think how perfect it is, and how the form of a sestina reminds me of a woman in a brassiere, and maybe panties, too, with lace, and silk, with pink roses or lavender, and how a man in Fruit of the Looms or even Calvin Kleins wouldn't look anything like a sestina. No, he'd be a haiku. And then I think of other favorites, like the one about Nick at Nite which, even if it is about the difference btw Americans and Filipinos, I think it's also about the difference btw men and women, how we say yes and mean no. Or another time. Or we say no, and mean talk me into it? Or, get lost asshole, depending on the night and the who and the when. Or maybe the if. Or whether it's a poem or a story, and some men and nights are the one and some are the other ones, if you know what I mean. Poems are much easier to think of as nudes. Which reminds me that I love the poem Denise wrote about swimming nude with Nick, and I really love that she doesn't leave Nick's penis out of the poem or out the salty water but says how tiny it grew, and I want to tell her about the penises in the Maine water and how these penises pray they've never been born, that's how cold it is, and if you see them, you might think they never have been, and I know people are going to think I only think of penises when they read this, even the little tiny ones, and of course they're right.