Trance Notebook #18

April 18, 2014
Editors' Note: Read Boston Review poetry editor Stefania Heim's interview with Wayne Koestenbaum.
            [desire demands specialization]
sounds like a bitter drag queen
tractor in twilight,
stichomythia, dialogue as
              don’t wet
your pants when you
get excited telling
a story
of Melanie and the
Carpenters I sing—and
of hours later, and their
resemblance to hours ago,
and foretelling’s resemblance
to forewent—
of Triscuits and the delight
they fail to bring
I sing—
several rich houses in
a row, their improbability
and then their disappearance
and the mourning that
                        of editorial
suggestions and micro-
abrasions, of Lasik
and softball—
                          am I
aware of the royal baby?
and why did I
mention Judith Butler
in Brooklyn?  and why
always a reliance on
            she sent me
a photo of her baby
boy’s rear-end
              I overstated
my “culture of the
pause” idea, and didn’t
explain it properly
            of another
stagnant tractor, this one
yellow (Indian or Naples?),
I sing—
of West Point and man’s
second or third disobedience—
of his refusal to thank or
greet, and their Germanic
of The Monster and
Uncle Julius, and
my failure to write a fashion
poem I sing
the wife’s mouth
qualifies as pretty, but
it disturbs me, as do
her pink ballet slippers,
and his loud
crunching on chips
             a trip
to Greece to see the
oracle and give it “a
piece of our mind”
             of sewing
skills and knot-tying expertise
never acquired I sing—
of dents in my
Bach trumpet, of a tendency
to hoard, and the cult of impersonality—
of pineapple’s
resemblance to male peacock
              imagine an uncle
named Ruth, and imagine
that mistake as a
cause of fluidity
how can I finally seize
the day, is there a day
to be seized, have I
already seized it?
is it already night and
too late to seize
the day?  is there a difference
between day and night?
I seized six o’clock, but
now it’s half past eight—
stuttering came
from wearing a foot brace
if John Cassavetes had
made Garden of the
Finzi-Continis and what if
Julie Harris were
its star? 
             let’s stand
against recollection—
in our bib overalls
remember nothing
            drum up intensity
to prove
I have a body
like fire on fingertips
as evasion
do local divinities
embrace my foul
are never antiseptic
enough, wrists are never
limp enough, dreams
are never wet enough
restaurant, my mother
orders tuna fish sandwich
as treat from block-
lady waitress Wanita—
boxes are always fancy—
fancy means
(in San Jose) a cake
box or a second story
in a world of one-story
houses a second floor
is nirvana
Mother calls to say
“I’m in a very
terrible mood,
I want to
talk to you”
not wanting to seem an
east coast snob,
I didn’t mention Heidegger—
nectarine or peach?
uncertain about
the difference
            are nectarines
less orange or more,
or is orange not the
primary variable? 
dark eyebrows, “dirty” legs,
wedding ring
elegy for husbands?
demands specialization” I
said to three dozen men
in a southern crab bar—
square heads of the idealized
and lauded
man in back of room saying
“after-effect” silently
to himself
tell me more about Hamlet’s
desire to be a woman