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poetry insurance for TNB

Wil Gibson by Vanessa Vrtiak

 

You have a book out with Great Weather for MEDIA, tell me about it.

I am very proud of this book. It is a memoir of sorts. Mostly stories and poems about my childhood and growing up poor, but also stories and poems about my life into adulthood. Dealing with addiction, dealing with epilepsy, dealing with the death of loved ones, remembering the path that got me here. Really though, I say fuck a lot and I try not to say too many dumb things.

When we were barely still children,
city limit signs sealed our fate.
We saw our town as either stable or irreversible.
No one ever told us those words could be synonyms.

When chemicals became solutions,
we never saw the way out.
We fucked like teenagers
because we were teenagers.
We bought and sold pot through
drive-thru windows, got into fights
behind the bowling alley, and
drove in circles around town.
There was always a broken heart
to soothe, more often than not
your own.

So there are balmy days on the surface of Mars and I look up and it’s still
wtf are you still here? And about to drop into the rooftop pool

with your horses, those unwinning twins. I need to find my way home
and draw the roof over my head, I’m shivering under the palms

because it’s like wtf? Apparently we’re all good
educated people who can situate an ironic distance between the hierarchy of gods,

men, and horses, and the DJs who spin poolside. But then again once
in a while I get into looking into my phone and it’s like, honey

used as a preservative? The spines along the inside of a skull?
“Decomposing without pomp, it suffers our sidelong nosegay.” Roadkill.

null set to one so as not to mean anything
to understand.

single took a hit– bad press– lost sight of the charts,
dragged the album into the pits.
how does the singer turn it around?

full-bodied roast rounded out the morning
gave tone to thoughts administered
to break the day,
put heat on the cool kids
to shake off the night but not the before.

Jenna Le - horizontal photo

 

So I heard your new book, A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora, is about whales. What is your favorite whale species?

How can I choose just one? I love humpback whales for the way they sing. I love North Atlantic right whales because they don’t engage in any of that inanity that most other animal species engage in, where the males fight one another to see who gets sexual access to the females; instead, everyone just makes love with everyone elese, and everyone is happy. I love bowhead whales for their wiliness, their longevity, the jaunty upside-down Nike swoosh of their mouth shape. I love sperm whales for their stolid squareness of brow, their quintessential Moby-Dickish-ness. Also for how damn loud they are. Good on them for being so loud. But I love the quiet whales just as much, and I love the slow lumbering whales just as much as the fast twittering ones, the light-fleshed whales just as much as the dark.

Chè Bắp

By Jenna Le

Poem

In the backyard, Father grew
ears of sweet corn,
green-swaddled blimps
of ocher bluster.

When the wind gusted over,
the stalks bowed so low
their rigid plumes
would graze the cakey dirt.

On the designated day,
Father would gather the ears
and heap them, firewood-like,
in the house;

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So, what are you wearing?

I like how you got saucy right at the beginning of this interview. I like your style. I like the cut of your jib. I’m not sure what a “jib” is…sure I could look it up…but I like the whole thing. I’m wearing blue plaid pajama buttons, Target slippers, and yesterday’s socks and shirt. I spend a lot of days like this…though, honestly, the slippers are more of a colder weather kind of thing.

 

Next Time Down

By Rick Lupert

Poem

Next time down
we’ll park the lawnmower on the other side of the mountain
we’ll mail celery to Aruba
we’ll write poems about writing poems, about writing poems

Next time down
everyone will get a free pen
everyone will get a free shirt
everyone will get a free willy

headshot 2015 wide angle

Los Angeles, November 2015


What is that sound? I can hear a squeaky noise coming from somewhere.

Ignore it. It’s nothing.

 

What are you doing right now, beside talking to yourself?

Getting ready for a reading this evening at USC.

 

Tell us about that.

Is there a mouse in your pocket?

(Poem made from lines spoken by my mother)

 

If someone finds me on the road

If someone finds me on the road

in my nightgown, barefoot and talking

 

in my nightgown, barefoot and talking

If my talking nightgown

finds the road in me

and someone on barefoot

 

Or I’m throwing my money to the cars

Or I’m throwing my money to the cars

convinced I’m just feeding the ducks

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What’s it like to be on a first date and say you wrote a book called Inappropriate Sleepover?

Well, the guys mostly look scared and/or confused, but I feel great!

She liked the crunch of the white snow.
The androgynous bulk of orange
encapsulating her long frame. In town
there were double takes and a sense
of foreboding. You look sixteen, her father said
on seeing her in new ballet clothes.
She was eleven. Bringing down her first
pheasant felt natural. She could imagine
getting pheasants to fall from the sky
without a gun. She could imagine
herself all in white like the fallen snow.

He cleared his throat with bulldozers
had the necessary work permit from the city
taped to the side of his face
removing dirt from the windpipe
he found trapped miners that had died down there
their once blackened faces now skeletal
huddled together like an American football team
discussing a play that never happened
but lest you think my mud brains hung up on simple excavation
there is still the clouded mind to address, always clouded
with a thick haze of grievous confusion
the benchmark of basic clarity never met
sitting in dark cafés with stupid French names
folding the newspaper like a losing hand of poker

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Tell us about the most recent poetry reading you gave.

Last weekend I read for a series in Nashville called the Et. Al. reading series. The series has been happening for a while, but last weekend’s was the first to take place in the Sauvage arts space, run by my sister Lydia Gamble and her friend Ashley Boyd Jones. Both are talented photographers. Ashley collects and sells very good clothes (including a nice supply of vegan fur coats) and Lydia does a variety of fine visual art, including woodprints and some glass pieces. The reading felt extra-special to me because my mom, one of my brothers, and both of my sisters were there. The poems I read were some of my most personal and revealing I’ve ever written, I think, so it was really good to have my family there.