Thursday, August 26, 2010

maybe i should submit something to the new yorker

I have a subscription to The New Yorker because one day I got a letter in the mail at work offering me a really cheap deal for being a member of the "media." I was like hell yes and sent in my reply card, eagerly awaiting my first copy. I killed my subway transit hours by reading New York until the day The Hallowed Book hit my desk.

That was last winter. It is now creeping up on Fall, and I have a stack of New Yorkers on my desk. I have a weekly ritual. When I get the week's issue, I immediately open to the table of contents. I find where the poems are, and I read them. I ponder them. I read the mini-biographies of the poets in the front of the book. I debate whether or not to just-for-the-hell-of-it open an e-mail to the poetry editor, free-write some poetic prose in less than five minutes (a la Miss Hannah Miet) and click send. I decide not to. Then I add the New Yorker to the stack of other New Yorkers, a nice little family of New Yorkers taking up residence in my office. I never touch them again.

This week, as usual, there are two poems in The New Yorker. Here is one of them, replicated in its entirety.


O Sting, where is thy death?

-- David Musgrave

While I'm thinking about what poetry is and if I consider OTIDIMOTPMWAACMA to be whatever poetry might be, I get an e-mail. It just says, "Hi sweetheart, how are you today?" My heart stops and starts up again. I am reminded that, sometimes, one line is poetry.

Gmail --> Compose --> Paul Muldoon @ New Yorker --> Subject line --> Poetry Submission --> Email body -->


The fuck?

-- Meghan Blalock

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dunkin' Sonnets

Sadly, thanks to my travels in August totally kicking my ass, I am now addicted to coffee. For the past couple weeks I've gotten a cup of Dunkin' everyday at work - and I thought I might as well make something good out of a caffeine addiction, yeah?

This is just the first line of what I hope will become a sonnet. Yeahhhhhh I know it's almostbutnotquite iambic pentameter, but whatevz. I blame the fact that I was still near the top of the cup when I did this. I'll continue the sonnet one post a week, or more often if I feel like it. There's no shortage of coffee cups to choose from.

i love you already, from afar

Thursday, August 19, 2010

all the sweetest winds

Inspired by my recent trip to Mississippi, I reached out to the folks at The Local Voice, Oxford's alternative newspaper, and pitched a column to them. They liked the idea, and agreed to let me wax poetic about my nostalgia, longing and introspective thoughts about the South - all from the comfort of my crowded commute on the NYC subway.

You can read my first column, Somewhere In Between, here and download it here.

It feels good to be back, if only sort of halfway.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

young women blossom upward


And the great cities, Lord, what are they?
Places disintegrating and abandoned.
The city I know resembles animals fleeing from a fire.
The shelter it gave has no shelter now,
and the age of the cities is nearly over.

Men and women live there, stunned, thinned out,
in darkened rooms, afraid of any human gesture,
more fearful than a heard of yearling steers.
Your earth opens its eyes and breathes,
but they are no longer aware of the breathing.

A child lives its growing years at a windowsill.
The shadow makes the same angle there each day.
It doesn't realize that there are wild roses calling
to a day of open places, gaiety and wind.
It has to be a child and becomes a sad child.

And young women blossom upward toward the unknown
and feel a longing for the peace of childhood;
what they are burning for, however, is not in the world
and their body trembles as they close themselves once more.
And the disappointed years of being a mother
go by in apartments out of the light.
Night after night they have no will and weep,
cold years go by with no power and no real battle.
The deathbed waits in a still darker room,
and they wish themselves slowly slowly into it,
and they take a long time to die, as if in chains,
and die still dependent on others, as beggars are.

- Rainer Maria Rilke, Paris, 1900


I awoke with a start in the middle of the night to the sound of a child screaming.
My blood curdled -
This was not a scream of hunger or fatigue,
But the sort of terror that might only exist on the streets of war
During a suicide bomb,
Or in the black alleys of Harlem at two in the morning.

I got up and peeked through the blinds on the back of my building.
I thought I saw a person crouching sinisterly in the darkness of my neighbor's garden,
But the person did not move, and
I decided it was just a bush.
I saw nothing,
But I walked to my bedroom door and locked it anyway,
For the screams were gone but their aftermath lingered,
And frightened me to the marrow.

I want to move to a big house in the middle of the country,
Where I can look out from the frame of my front door
And see nothing
But land and trees and sky for miles.

It would be quiet there.
And I could write and be connected to the earth
And I could play music.

It would be nice to be near a town,
So I could gather with other artists and feel a sense of community,
A common purpose.

I want to travel the world.
And then I want to live free in the open air and the sunlight and the rain.

I want to make love on our porch.
I will look to the sky and say, "Do you hear that?"
And you will say, "What?"
And I will say, "There's a storm rollin' in."
And you will say:
"Drown it out."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

the internet is making us all worse artists

Sometimes I read the comments on other people's writing,
Poring over twisty noodles mixed with olive oil and parmesan cheese (the cheap kind),
Mixed with turkey sausage and sauteed pears (I ran out of onions),
And I say aloud,
"Fuck them. I'm not like that. And I shouldn't try to be."

I know I'm right,
But it's the same fucking people (or bots, or what have you) who make me upset
When they don't comment on my writing.

Everyday, everyday,
I tell myself it takes years to complete a masterpiece,
Then I google how long it took Picasso to paint Guernica:
One month.

One month.
My ears are popping.
One month.
Fuck the Internet.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Schmom B. Says: Probs.

leaving for lollapalooza (aka gagapalooza) today, i have only one word for you, c/o Schmom B.

off to a field in chicago for three days to jump around and hopefully dance in the rain and maybe rub mud on my body. probs. bai.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


On the upstairs platform at 14th street, I see a man with a book in his bag called
How To Be An Existentialist.
I laugh out loud at his silliness.

Downstairs at 14th street, a man in monk robes comes up to me and offers me a book on yoga,
asking for change in return. 
I give him a handful of coins. 
I open the book and a card falls out with a chant on it. It instructs me to repeat the chant to make my life sublime, and it guarantees satisfaction.

I laugh out loud at its silliness.  

Monday, August 2, 2010

harlem sundown

I wrote this as an e-mail response to brilliant writer Stephen Elliott's Sunday daily Rumpus e-mail, in which he post-scripted, "Where are you? What are you thinking about?"

I am in East Harlem, sitting in my apartment on the third floor, listening to two hipster girls move into the apartment on the second floor where my best friend of three years used to live but which he vacated two days ago to move to New Orleans. They are blasting Indie rock music that I don't recognize, and the lead singer is a girl.

I am thinking about love, and how real it is versus how fake it is. I am thinking of the e-mail I got last night from a sailor I met when he was in New York for fleet week. I've never openly said I'm in love with him, but I know I am, or I was, in some way or another. I used to believe in the innate power of those words, saying you love someone, or that you're in love with someone. I used to see them, without knowing it, as a sort of death sentence - like when you say it aloud to someone, or even just to yourself, your life as you know it is over, and you've committed yourself to a forever feeling. It used to give me panic attacks. I don't believe that anymore. I know now that love has so many variants, an infinite number, and that the way I was in love with my first boyfriend when I was 15 will always be a unique experience, versus the way I'm in love with my sailor, versus the way I'm in love with the ice cream I had for lunch today, versus the way I'm in love with the nights I spent dancing in my friend's downstairs apartment that now belongs to someone else. The only thing they all have in common is that they are temporary.

Anyway, my sailor is a little younger than me and he is floating in the middle of the ocean in a location he will not disclose to me, and in this e-mail he told me how he used to have a problem, here undisclosed, and how he had to drop out of college because of it and how he joined the military to help him get over it. When I read it, I thought of how we all have or have had problems, haven't we, and I thought of how I had shared with him recently the heartbreak I went through over the past year as the result of my problem with a man. My sailor said, "Keep your head up and your eyes open, and good things will happen, I promise." Men have always promised me all kinds of things, and not a single one has kept a single promise. This time I believe him because this particular promise is his, but it's up to me to keep it. Or maybe I just believe him because I want to. Maybe promises are equivalent to hopes - images of things that don't actually exist, just figments of our imaginations, yet the most necessary parts of life.

I am thinking about how I have this habit of keeping the men in my life at bay. For years I've only seriously dated guys long-distance, and more recently I've really only hooked up with guys outside of New York, or guys from outside of New York, like my sailor. My downstairs best friend used to get on to me for this, saying I was afraid of a real relationship that would require a daily commitment: seeing the same person every day or every other day or every couple of days, scheduling my life around this person. I used to disagree with him, assuring him it was just a matter of happenstance that all my serious relationships were long-distance.

But now I know he was right, he is right. I am scared shitless. Not of commitment, not of intimacy, not of waking up beside the same person every single day forever. I want all that shit more than I can say. But right now, I wake up from dreams with song lyrics and poetry in my head, and I roll over and grab my phone so I can record myself singing them, or I write them down in my notebook. But if I woke up beside my sailor, I would roll over and graze the back of his neck with my lips, and he would stir and roll over to kiss me, and I would forget my dreams and I would write nothing down because my hands would be full of man. This scares me shitless. A fruitless life of nothing but sex and love and passion and babies and white picket fences and blue eyes and dimples.

I just know I would wake up at 40, 50 years old, and ask myself what I'd given the world, how I'd changed anyone's life, and the answer would be that I had not given or changed anything, because I lost myself in this painful sort of love for another person, because it's easy to want, and it's easy to create, at least compared with art. And then I would down an entire bottle of anti-depressants and some whiskey and some pain relievers and my sailor would find me on the floor of the bathroom with a note by my head that reads, "I failed. I love you."

So yeah. I'm scared shitless of that. And this is why I'd rather, for now, have a figment love with a man I barely know on a boat I've never seen than have a real relationship with a man in the present space. And this is what I'm thinking about today, as I sit in East Harlem, in my little chair, in my little apartment, in my little world.