Monday Mar 20, 2023
Monday Mar 20, 2023
Monday Mar 20, 2023
There’s a lot packed into this episode, Slushies, including sibilance and balancing gravity with a light touch. Differing perspectives and the resonance of history, both real and mythical, cascade through a trio of poems by Danielle Roberts. Jason worries that his erudition has collapsed momentarily, Kathy loves the rush of wanting to immediately re-read a poem, and Samantha reminds us of an Anne Carson line: “Aristotle says that metaphor causes the mind to experience itself in the act of making a mistake.” Oh, and Marion brings to life the idea of hearing a baby’s cries in the ceiling when she recounts living in the apartment below a family with newborn triplets!
Links to things we discuss that you may dig:
Jeanann Verlee’s Helen Considers Leaving Troy
George Eliot’s Middlemarch
Anne Carson’s Essay on What I Think About Most
Elizabeth Bishop’s Collected Letters
Jason Schneiderman’s How the Sonnet Turns: From a Fold to a Helix, APR Volume 49, Issue 3
British Antarctic Survey: Ice cores and climate change
Smartless Podcast (Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, Will Arnett)
At the table: Kathleen Volk Miller, Marion Wrenn, Samantha Neugebauer, and Jason Schneiderman
Danielle Roberts is a queer poet from California. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, DMQ Review, Okay Donkey, Prairie Schooner, Reed Magazine & others. When not writing poetry, she can be found drinking too much tea & pestering the nearest cat. Read more of her at sonnetscribbler.com.
Socials: Instagram: @sonnetscribbler
How can I leave this behind?
after Jeanann Verlee’s Helen Considers Leaving Troy
after a floral gin cocktail
Do I want to live and die my whole life here—
buried in county lines—or is it time
to stretch the map? There’s more
to plan than simply running away.
while holding my niece
Picking up the baby doesn’t help:
I smell her hair & wonder if she thinks
of me when I’m out of sight. Will she know?
Her eyes stare into the distance
along with mine. Maybe she travels
in her dreams. Maybe she lives
while eating dinner
Gorging myself on routine, I chew bread & think
about the bagels in New York. I live these sour-
dough rituals—oven baked in centuries
of families. A young tradition bound by water
on all sides. They say it’s in the water.
Doubtful, I gnaw on my nails.
when people ask if I’ll have kids
Come on, Karen—I just blew up
my life & you’re asking if I’m ready
to be a sacred vessel? The only answer
I can give is to flee far away
from anyone who had dreams
for me or thought I could be
marriage material. Go where
all folks care about is which street
I live above in the gridlocked graph
or whether I’m walking fast enough. Blend.
It would be easier than questions of barreness.
when my ex wants to get back together
from the freeway exit
Behind the wheel of my car, I carve trenches
again—circle and retrace my path—map
the small universe on foot, pace my cage.
Maybe I take to the night sky
or simply head east until I hit water.
Gorges and grooves heal, scarred
cutting board life. Do I keep driving?
Where do I even go from here?
These dreams that weren’t mine
festering in my wake. What city takes
such hazardous rot? How do I leave
my family behind? How
do I tell them I’m already gone?
Speak to me in layered tongues of bitten snow, slow
molars carved with frost collected in the valleys between your teeth. The scientist bores a core—
plucks the long memory from each glacier—this meter holds your first bicycle ride, this
a bridal veil of volcanic ash from Pompeii, six cylinders of centuries trespass
the sterile air—blink at the unforgiving sun. From the dentist chair, you look
up at the light and this persistent body shrinks—cracked with age
and use. Our indestructible jaws crumble with heat, losing
enameled eons to inaction, forgetting to stitch our gums
with floss. It’s far too late to mend our habits
now: best to preserve what we can. Each
line, a thought pulled out of context—
precious archive of time before tales.
We transcribe the answers to
our final test without
any chance of
My cat startles & I tell her nothing
bad is happening, but
we both know that’s a lie
on a large enough scale.
She hears the neighbors’ doors
slam, the child in the ceiling crying
like an injured mouse. She knows footfalls
on the landing lead to the uninvited
lead to us coaxing her to accept
strangers in her home. She knows
the rush of sirens down Oak or shouts
from the narrow park must mean something
in the same way we all know
that one thing always leads
She turns a pale eye towards me as if to say
just because it’s not happening to me
doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
As we wade into the cold mountain
lake, my sister promises me
nothing’s going to touch your feet—maybe
some grass or a fish, but I’ve never seen anything bad
here. She shifts the baby to her other hip & walks
deeper. Her husband rows away from the widening rings
of sunscreen filming the top of the swampy water, oil slick
of caution. I know she loves me.
Later, I scramble onto the inflatable raft & hold
the baby & my breath. My sister stays rooted
in the water—extracting the implanted
leeches from between my toes—doesn’t
glance down at her own feet. Not even once.
Her husband saw the signposts on the shore & told
no one. He thought they didn’t apply anymore:
he’s never noticed anything in the waters.
My boss sends a message before an important meeting
to ask if I can still lead in light of the news. I reassure him
In the crowded room,
the men make small talk,
but have nothing to say.