Charles told me to write a poem today. It’s 12:45pm and so
far the only honorable things I’ve done are write back to
Charles, eat breakfast, and take a long bath. I put on clean
clothes and laced up my boots. All of my other actions were
intended to keep me from writing a poem. Look at how much I
love Charles, to confront the notion that I have nothing more
to say in the manner of the poem.

I read recently (in a library book “due a year from today”) that
Adam and Eve only spent three hours in paradise. And that
Adam lived 930 years and was 90 feet tall. Olson (another
Charles) said there is no limit to what you can know. I think I
can no longer know anything. How about I just be kind to
animals. The bible rarely mentions the deaths of women,
except for Jezebel, who was defenestrated and eaten by
stray dogs. You can look up “How bad was Jezebel?” for the
history (history, what Olson calls the function of any one of
us). If Adam lived to be 930 I have to entertain the belief that
he was never born.

I remember a photograph of Olson at Black Mountain with a
poncho on but when I look for it I find one of him writing
shirtless with a bottle of wine covered in woven straw on his
desk, a blanket over his left shoulder, and another of him
wearing a suit with a blanket over same shoulder. Did I invent
his poncho as an authoritative vestment? “WOT ‘APPENED?”
To get at the density/not so easy. The man who declares he
will not solve any problems or answer any questions is nearly
extinct, as is the mountaineer whose intent is across and not
up. I misread a sign with a mountain’s name as WOOL
WIND. A solution and my problem presented hand in hand,
hateful of wind blowing against my body. I’d like to don a wool
poncho to exemplify my vocation in its westward iteration. I
wander in wool, tho unsure.

A nun could strike a bell for nocturne and I’d be there. I’d run
up the fire path and leave the phone behind, I want to say “off
the hook.” What of life before 1850, pre-telegraph, don’t tell
me human consciousness wasn’t different then, and before
then… and lost to us. The pink and yellow Petite Gerberas I
presented Charles with when she was here one week ago still
have their life force. When I want to get a message to her I
remember those to whom smuggling was
second nature, and what patience. Her boots are by the door
for next month’s walk.

A student from the east coast introduced himself to me the
other day in my office. I felt the need to tell him I was just
borrowing it from a poet on sabbatical. These are definitely
not my books. I miss my books. I printed my name in blue
marker on an index card and taped it to the door. We talked
about being surrounded by mountains for the first time. He
said he felt embraced by them. Being from the Midwest I
don’t like to feel surrounded, not even by the skyscrapers of
the city I most love, but once I’m up in the range I realize that
I am surrounded by nothing. When I think I’m alone, usually
it’s because I’m not paying attention:

tops of ears visible in the wheat

a golden stance in new air.

14 September 2018

Stacy Szymaszek

Stacy Szymaszek is a poet, and arts administrator/organizer, and teacher. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where in 1999 she started working for Woodland Pattern Book Center. She founded and edited seven issues of GAM, a free magazine featuring the work of poets living in the upper midwest. In 2005, she moved to NYC to work for The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, where she served as Executive Director from 2007-2018. Szymaszek is the author of the books Emptied of All Ships (2005), Hyperglossia (2009), hart island (2015), Journal of Ugly Sites and Other Journals (2016), which won the Ottoline Prize from Fence Books and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2017, and A Year From Today (2018 ). She is the recipient of a 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts award in poetry. She is a regular teacher for Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program, and mentor for Queer Art Mentorship.

Szymaszek is the 2018-19 Hugo Visiting Writer at the University of Montana and was a Poet-in-Resident at Brown University in fall 2018.