My Novel, the Poem Version

The following is my novel, reduced to 500 words and given line breaks. Thanks, Autosummarize, for this literary masterpiece. (P.S. I had no idea I used this many exclamation points. I think it got every single one.) Enjoy….

No Lake Ever Loved Us (the poem)

Etta! Etta. If you had only had children, said Matilda. Really Etta, said Matilda. Well! Our little houses. Harvey with his long, thin hands.

Well if you must know, Harvey is Caucasian. Father, Harvey is a professor…. Especially if my father is against it.

Ah well, never mind. Never mind, Etta. Take Harvey’s love for America. Harvey stood behind my chair. Caucasians, said Harvey. Etta. Harvey’s kind. Harvey was the only Hindu. Thirsty, said Harvey. Harvey blushed. Harvey was craning his neck. To Harvey?

Mother says if you could come…. Mother says if you could come.

Matilda! Matilda cried.

Old! Well.

Etta – Etta Chakrabarti. My father. Father! If it isn’t Henry! Harvey and I – I paused. Matilda? Well! Matilda? Not a word from Harvey.

Love. Etta Chakrabarti. Harvey wasn’t coming home. Harvey.

If sex works, that is. Well if it ain’t Etta herself. Men will be men, she was saying.             Etta! Etta – said Harvey, looking pained.

Harvey laughed. Harvey was in California. Well!

Harvey – I mean, Arabinda. Matilda!

Colman’s eyes. What if you fell in?

Love? Well! Harvey’s eyebrows flickered. The man’s eyebrows jumped.             Bloody hell yourself, Harvey. Harvey began backing away.

Etta. I had loved Harvey. It was Harvey. Harvey, what a surprise.

Why it’s Harvey! Right, right. Harvey smiled a weary smile. Etta. Etta.

If I loved you? I asked Harvey. Hello, Etta, said Harvey.

Harvey put his hand on my knee. Harvey held open the door.

Right! Harvey winced at the sound.

I won’t sign, Harvey. Harvey. Harvey folded his hands on the tablecloth.             Mother! Mother! I’m – excuse me, Harvey. Harvey did not follow.

Harvey is so cultured. Etta! Etta.

Hello Harvey. California, Mose said to Harvey. Harvey smiled, squinting his eyes. Harvey smiled, a real one this time. Ah yes, said Harvey.

Ah, said Harvey, shaking his head as if to sober himself. Harvey laughed. Harvey watched without a word. Harvey – my voice was hoarse. Harvey I want you.

Etta, my Etta. Harvey, I said. Etta? Why Harvey! See if he smiled.

No Harvey on the street. My father. Oh, Matilda.

Matilda sniffled. Your poor father. Father –

Harvey lost his citizenship. Matilda prickled.

Harvey! Harvey shrugged. Walking.

Harvey shrugged. Never mind.

Etta – Let me go, Harvey.

When my arms tired, Harvey carried Maurice and when Maurice squirmed, Harvey let him walk, Harvey’s finger in Maurice’s firm little fist. Come now, Etta, Harvey said uncomfortably.

Harvey froze. Fish? hooted the man. Etta. Hurry, Harvey!

Whatever for? asked Harvey. Hush, said Harvey. Are you all right, Harvey?

Harvey was right – Maurice was fine.

Harvey? Harvey was gone.

Harvey! Ah, Etta. Yes, yes, said Harvey, shaking his hand.

Look, Harvey, I turned to him. In Ravenna? asked Harvey.

Harvey watched me with his deep water eyes. Harvey had ahold of my hand.

Harvey held my hand. Matilda –

Harvey, good grief! Harvey was not talking.

If you wish. I’m not divorcing Harvey.

To leave Harvey? Mother is.

Father! Be serious, man! Like mother?



My Little Animists

Supposedly I teach writing, but sometimes it turns out I teach philosophy and astronomy and people-are-not-for-hitting, which is actually a fairly profound subject in and of itself and should be required for every political nominee. This is what happens: you sit down to teach some kids a Latin word root or something, and the world pours in. Language is so intertwined with life.

I teach them the word root anima — breathe, soul, life.  Like animal, you know? That’s easy, but inanimate — what does that even mean? Is a rock inanimate? They don’t think so, and neither do I. This makes us all some kind of proto-animists, though I don’t tell them this directly because some of them have other religions or no-religions. What about a thing on the internet, they want to know — is that an inanimate object? I don’t know. A table is, they are pretty sure. But a peach? The universe? And what about the time before 1560, when English got the word inanimate: did people have another word for it, or did they not even think about the world that way?

Speaking of the universe, what if it’s actually a multiverse? Did you ever think, they want to know, about how electrons circle their nucleus just like planets circle their sun? And black holes: why are scientists scared of them? All of those people that fell in them, they probably just went through a portal.


It’s official. I got the check in the mail.  I am a thousandaire writer. If you don’t know the term, which maybe my friend Hank invented? Thousandaire is like millionaire, only in thousands.  And as of today it is true: writing has made me a thousandaire. In fact, I have made $1260 in my writing career so far.

Five hundred for second place a poetry prize in college, where my friend Cara won first and this nice boy named Sam won third and his poem was about a chicken and mine was about a flower, but of course it wasn’t actually about a flower, it was about immanence versus transcendence, because everything I thought about at that point was, which is to say it was about sex and God and a dead saint.

Seventy five for three poems in the Bellingham Review, which helped save the winter of 2006 from being sadder than it had to be.

Twenty five for being a visiting writer in a Waldorf High School English class.

One hundred and fifty for a poem on a placard on a Seattle bus, in which I hoped for small things.

And then, today, five hundred and ten for an essay on stumps in High Country News.

This does not include the twenty they say is coming from this essay in Contrary.

So, young woman in that Waldorf class who raised her hand and said so politely, “I hear there is no money in the arts,” to which I had no great reply, though there is also no money in loving people or parenting or diving into clear water or eating gelato or any of so many things that make being human pretty awesome — young woman, look here. There is money in the arts. And this is only the beginning.

Pocket Guide

Hey everyone,

Guess what! My friend Cara and I are starting a zine.  It’s called Pocket Guide.  It’s hip. It’s unfolding.  And it’s made from ONE PIECE OF PAPER!

You can check it out here.

We’re looking for contributions, so send us your art and your writing by March 31st.

Or send us your address, and we’ll send you a copy.  First one’s on us.