Operation: Chapbook

I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of the projects I’m working on  is a chapbook of poetry.  It’s coming along rather nicely.  I’m about 1/3ish of the way done and I still have no idea what to call it.  This is one of my favorites so far:


























It bothers you, don’t it?

The void, the whiteness

of the page screaming

“Fill me with something”

because of course it should

be filled—pages and vaginas

left empty amount to no

good and we can’t possibly

have that because they might

get uppity like that cheap whore

under the lightpost on the corner

of Main and Sample who

decided all of a sudden she’s

too good for your crab infested

pubic hair and the callouses

on your hands that catch

on her hair as you grunt

your beer laced breath in

her face as she dreams

of being “Pretty Woman”

while knowing she’s only

that dead hooker on that

one episode of CSI.

Why do I leave my

pages empty?

Because fuck you—

that’s why.

I forget how I got fixated on the concept of voids, but I saw a blank page with a title in my head.  Then I saw people scanning the page, flipping it over, flipping it back, looking around a table, looking on the floor…trying to find the words.  In short, they started to freak out a little, these people in my head.  So I decided to start off the piece that way.  That was the only calculated writing.  The rest of it was almost a stream of consciousness thing where I let the words take me.  I also took the time to rebel against a society that tries to dictate my actions.  I don’t have to act the way society tells me to act, and I don’t have to justify it either.  To clarify, this doesn’t mean murdering people and stealing their crap.  It means I don’t have to conform to society’s notions of gender, gender expression, or sexuality.  It means I can take one partner, or several partners, or several partners at the same time if I choose.  Or I can take no partners at all.  It means society doesn’t get to define me.  Even if what I choose for myself aligns with society’s notions of who and what I should be, it doesn’t mean I have to go about it in the same way, and it doesn’t mean society gets to take the credit for it.

This poem from the collection is the shortest one:

My Doxology

Misery be to the Father,

The Daughter,

and the Broken Spirit.

As it was in the beginning is now,

and ever shall be,

Pain without end.


For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, a doxology is a hymn-like response that calls glory to the Christian God.  This piece very neatly ties together two things I have a very big problem with: organized religion and my father.  I took a doxology and modified it.  In fact, I may take a few more and sprinkle them throughout the collection.  I hadn’t thought of doing that until just now, but Cynthia Cruz gave several of her poems the same title in “The Glimmering Room” and I thought that was an intriguing idea while I was reading her.  This is something I plan on exploring for future pieces.


3 comments on “Operation: Chapbook

  1. Krista says:


    As we discussed in class, Void is great. I think it certainly accomplishes your goal, and is a good poem, besides.

    I’ve been thinking a little more about the line “pages and vaginas” (and my previous recommendation that it should be “pussies” instead of “vaginas”). I think I stand by “pussies,” but I also wonder if “women” or a derogatory term for them wouldn’t work. I think the subject of the text makes it clear that it would be referring to something sexual/rapey, but it would leave a little ambiguity, too — more room for growth of the poem and rereadability.

    As you know, I like the idea of breaking up the poem, but I agree with others that the last few lines might be overkill. It’s not that I’m generally not a fan of overkill, but I think you’re doing something really different and intriguing with this poem, and I don’t want it to be drowned out by the overt sentiment of the last few lines. I guess in this work, I want the reader to NOT have a sense of finality at the end — it continues the discomfort of not having words in the beginning. I feel like the “why? / fuck you” at the end *closes* the poem. And what do we expect at an ending, but an end? I think denying the reader the sense of ending would continue the theme of the poem — refusing to provide what’s expected.

    My only comment about Doxology is that I’d move “is now” to its own line because I feel a natural pause before it, but it seems to flow faster when it’s part of the line it is now. I think it’s a really solid piece and a perfect summation of your current body of work for the chapbook. An excellent opening piece to prime the palate. Nicely done.



  2. 42miles says:

    great comment, Krista!


  3. Hah. I wanted to move “is now” to its own line also. I shoulda said so before Krista did, because now I just look unoriginal. Also, I know that “as it was in the beginning” follows the original line of the prayer you’re erasing (an interesting concept in its own right), but I want there to be a little something different in this line, a little conversation with the original, which is attempting to show sort of an epic distance between then and now, and the timelessness of the almighty. A comment on the passage of time, like.

    We spent some time working on “Void” in class, and after reading it several times and also hearing you read it, I still don’t know what I would suggest to make it any better. I’ve tried removing the “because fuck you” to see what changes it makes to the impact of the poem, and I’ve tried envisioning it as two separate poems, maybe with one or even a dozen other pieces in between, or with five other pieces in the book all named “Void” and all commenting on the original without mentioning it, that sort of thing. All I can really say is that I really like what you did there. One point of contention: I pass through the Main/Sample intersection every night on my way home, and there are never any prostitutes there. Not only does that disappoint me personally, but perhaps it’s not a seedy enough neighborhood to serve as a setting for this rumination on ruin that you’ve got cooking here.


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