Back to Issue Thirty-Four

[I should have been in cinema. I should have been in paint]


I should have been in cinema. I should have been in paint
or founded a band. I am certain of nothing said the tattoo.
Where is home scratched the chickens. I should have met
the Stones when I had the chance. Should have let Keith
turn me inside out. So what if I ended up dead or crazy.
I am big but this feeling is bigger, the silo whispered. I am
a movie screen drawled the pasture. I should have kept
the baby. So what poverty. I could have loved the little
fox-faced punk. I am buxom breathed the prairie. I should
have taken the radical path. I should have gone the cheerleader’s
way. Should have married Chuck before he enlisted. What if
I’m a star said the lamb. A star said the ham. A star said
the duck. A star said the truck. A star said the star. Is this music
about sound and not notes. What if it broadcasts a shimmering.



[Parties among strangers, punks, leather caps and straps, pressing]


Parties among strangers, punks, leather caps and straps, pressing
Quaaludes between my lips. What was pressed in I swallowed.
Is it hard for you to imagine me wearing gold lipstick? I did. Is it hard
for you to imagine me stupid? I was passed like bread among strangers.
For a couple of nights, I was the new thing. Then just a thing. Days I ran
a vintage clothing store, sat at a card table with a cigar box for a cash
drawer, the place too small for more than a couple of racks of old dresses
and tuxedos. Every day a screenwriter newly arrived from Poland sat
across from me, knee to knee, and read from his horrible screenplay.
He asked for critique, but when I gave it he derided me, once even spit
in my face. I quit the job to get away from him, or didn’t quit, just didn’t
show up one day. That’s how things worked back then. I was valueless, no?
It seems strange now, when everyone is so intent on having value. I flitted
in my stolen vintage clothes, topless. I was that writer named anonymous.


Diane Seuss’s most recent collection, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, (Graywolf Press 2018) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Four-Legged Girl (Graywolf Press 2015) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. frank: sonnets is forthcoming from Graywolf in 2021. She is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow. Seuss was raised by a single mother in rural Michigan, which she continues to call home.

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