Monday, September 10, 2012
#50: Two Poems by Monica Wendel
~This poem was previously published in Limestone Literary Magazine (2011).
If you think about it, he kind of always
made money with his body, bike messenger
with thighs of sharp wire, bandana around
his neck to prevent the exhaust of
BQE and Manhattan traffic from going into
his mouth & nose, like a coal miner.
But then his knee got fucked up and I ran into him
at a restaurant we both frequent
and he was talking to an older man about my lawyer
who is kind of a dick but has gotten me
out of a number of situations, and I wouldn’t
have gone over to say hi except that
there was this link, a bond
bigger than the house we both lived in or
our weird night bartending a show
for the resisters of somethingmovement –
but the man was not his father, and I slipped
and used the name I knew as his,
and a flash came across his face. I saw
that this is how one lives off of a paper trail,
out of white-collar slavery. It wasn’t Jenna Jameson
or The Da Vinci Co-eds. This was using
your own thin body for companionship
to a lonely old man. A question of what we own
and what we are willing to sell.
~ The poem was previously published in Bellevue Literary Review (2011).
I dream of water, and pools, standing on my tiptoes
and tilting my chin up to break the surface. I know
I’m supposed to love rivers, but I don’t. I only love
great open expanses that throw up carcasses before us
as offerings or sacrifices.
Tuesday evenings we drop off bread at the Grove –
bags of it, drops condensing inside the plastic
when it has been sealed still steaming.
No matter how many times we go,
they must look at us first through the two-way mirror.
His family moves around the house like
chess pieces: a limping knight, a slow, almost-
crippled king, the queen appearing where
one least expects her. And no board but the sound of the TV.
Horseshoe crab, I will never know your suffering.
Ancient body, ancient shell. What have we done
by lying next to you, unknowingly, and making love?
THE STORY BEHIND THE POEMS
Both of these poems are ones I wrote in graduate school and brought to workshop, and both benefited immensely from workshop (but in different ways).
As for "Porn," I wrote it because someone else in my class wrote a poem about porn, and I thought, hey, if he can do that, I can do that too! (Never underestimate the competitive spirit in poets.) Eventually, I revised it to make it less of a reaction to his poem and more of my own poem.
As for "Epistemology," I sought advice on this poem from two professors -- Charles Simic and Eamon Grennan. Simic, unsurprisingly, wanted to cut almost the entire poem, leaving only the last three lines of the first stanza and the final stanza as the complete poem. I didn't take that advice, but I did cut out a lot from the poem, making the reader leap more between stanzas. Then when I was working on my thesis with Eamon Grennan, he suggested changing the order of the stanzas -- the first stanza now was the third stanza then, and vice versa.
ABOUT MONICA WENDEL
Monica Wendel was a semi-finalist for the Miss G Train Pageant, a City Reliquary sponsored event for the worst subway line in New York City. (Talent: prose poems.) It's probably a good idea to buy her book directly from the publisher here, but, if you prefer, it’s also on Amazon. Recent work has found homes on the internet at Go Places (issue 5 and issue 4) If you can read this you're lying (under the pseudonyms Raymond Kelly and Robert Moses), the Brooklyner Literary Review, Pebble Lake Review, h_ngm_n Paperbag, and InDigest. In 2013, she will serve as the writer in residence at the Jack Kerouac Project of Orlando, Florida. Her first full-length book, No Apocalypse, is forthcoming from Georgetown Review Press.
Links to poems online: