B-Sides with Melissa Broder

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Melissa Broder, author of the forthcoming When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother (February 6th), is guest-blogging all week for MyJewishLearning and the Jewish Book Council. Visit her website at www.melissabroder.com.

jewish_authors_blog2.jpgIn editing my first book,
When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother
, some of the poems in the first drafts inevitably got whacked. Many of the dead poems were indeed dreck, but there are two that I can’t bear to part with. I want to see them published along with their brothers and sisters.

If my book was 9 ½ Weeks, then this would be the director’s cut. If it was Curb Your Enthusiasm, these would be the outtakes. I give them to you now:

Chalk
When the New England college towns get bombed
we are writing papers on the French
cubist poets through feminist lenses.

We students always come at such moments
slantwise because we have access to books
and books, plus Ritalin and Vicodin
prescriptions that make the moments
malleable and space and time
the muckamuck of debate clubs, but now
there is one lone reality
no matter what Pierre Reverdy says.

Sirens and smoking fires, professors
sick and flailing like licorice whips.

First we think of ourselves, as we’ve
always done, and how we jabbered on
about revolution and taking
down The Man. But we are The Man,
ninny nincompoops. The revolution
is on us. This is how people get thrust
onto inward journeys they don’t want.

Still, we make vows to see all things
fresh from now on. If we make it out
we’ll show love for calculus, pop quizzes,
red meat, the country music scene,
Young Republicans, frosted lips,
estranged relatives, marketing glitz,
and near-victories in extra innings.

Sirens and smoking fires, student body
president is leaving his body.

Now we understand why men live in shacks
with cans of baked beans and skinny dogs.
This is what Montana was built for.

This is when we ask ourselves what we did
wrong. Were we truculent? Pugnacious?
Bellicose? Inimical? Martial?

We only complained about bad smells
that were our bad smells; We only got blind

Posted on January 26, 2010

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