Poetry Suite by Kathleen Rooney and Elisa Gabbert

Editor Carrie Ivy, Poetry, September 16th, 2013

Whiskey, that philosopher of despair; next, the moon, like it even cares...

poetry kathleen rooney and elisa gabbert

Some Notes on the Weird

A sad spectacle can make you muse on death.

Poets use “strange” to mean “evocative”; to the average American, “strange” means “wrong.” This is not a criticism. It’s an inquiry into perspective, or what’s a counter-culture for?

Weirdness is largely predetermined by fate. This is not to say it’s necessarily genetic, though weird may in fact be in your DNA.

When you travel abroad, it can be weird to find that the natives find you weird. Cultural relativism aside, some things are just objectively weird.

The color green is often associated with the weird. But the more frequent association is patterns: zigzags, houndstooth.

This is not a disquisition. It’s an essay, in the antiquated sense of an attempt, a stab. Its weirdness enhanced by its barely apparent unstable authorial “I.”

Everyone goes through a weird stage, and later, a stage of romanticizing weirdness.

The moon, asteroids, planets with names—this suite of destinations is no longer that weird. And one day soon, no one alive will find Pluto’s demotion weird.

I am not your auditor. Go ahead, do what you feel like. Unless too many exigencies militate against your will to act upon your weirdest intentions.

Don’t start thinking about how smells smell to anyone else. You’ll only start freaking out about the limitations of knowledge.

There are no fixed entities, nothing essential—everything is changeable; isn’t that weird?

Thinking weirdly helps me fall asleep.

Hogarth said the line of beauty must be squiggly—would I sound weird to you if I disagreed? What if I inhale while whistling?

The lab notebooks used by Marie Curie are so radioactive that only now have scholars begun to read them. They feel a weird high when doing so, like the placebo buzz associated with nonalcoholic beer.

Weird how the future never gets here. For endings, abruptness is better than dissipation.


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Against Interpretation

For a piece of music or a woman to be great,
you need not just one but a team of writers
who together resemble a person, who are
unable to achieve internal consensus, either/
or being the default state. Our husbands
seldom sing us songs as do our friends or lovers.

As a woman, I am not native. When in a place
of texts and symbols, instead of a hermeneutics
use your eyes. A stream runs by. As such we need
less wretched excess, more sapiosexuality: an
unfeeling. The body wasn’t built for erotics
and no amount of criticism qualifies as art.


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Some Notes on Snobbery

Connoisseurship of cable is currently preferred over not watching TV. As is calling it hot cocoa instead of hot chocolate, if that happens to be what you’re drinking while you watch. Whatever you’re drinking, it should be non-alcoholic, because getting drunk while you watch TV is so sophomore year.

Everyone knows you take off your glasses to flirt. You can push them up on your head, but don’t wear them at the back like Guy Fieri. You can also try wearing your wristwatch as an eyepatch, but don’t even ask me how that’ll go.

If you’re not smiling, some guy on the street will always tell you to smile; little does he know you’re on your way to a funeral.

Snobs are upsetting and appealing for the same reason: they give the appearance of knowing something you don’t. But this is not the sole qualification—everyone knows something you don’t.

Sometimes what seems to be snobbishness is merely the desire for a well-ordered life. This desire can never be realized, due to entropy.

Money helps a lot if you seek, via snobbery, to free yourself from the shackles of conventionality. All cash is legal tender, but family money has a richer stink.

The figure of the critic-as-snob is unkind, but accurate. The critic would rather be a snob than a lowest-common-denominator, sheep-like philistine. Although it might just be a classical education and not snobbery that would cause a person to say ceteris paribus instead of “all things being equal.”

You’re doing it wrong. From here, behind my latte, I am silently judging you. And occasionally heaving an unsilent sigh.

Professor P. Sargant Florence wrote that “My own experience is that, apart from the special habitat of intellectuals like Oxford or Cambridge, a city of a million is required to give me, say, the twenty or thirty congenial friends I require!” He was a real asshole. And he dressed like the man of distinction in a whiskey ad.

There’s no cachet in degrees anymore, since literally everyone has them. The universities are like swimming pools that contain more people than water. What is “cess,” anyway, and does it ever occur outside of pools?

“To die” is an expression once used by chic lady-snobs in New York City—“My dear, it’s to die!” When complete and utter fabulousness is achieved, the only appropriate reaction is death.


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Lovers of Wisdom

We begin with three assumptions: First, whiskey,
that philosopher of despair; next, the moon, like
it even cares; and finally a wasted, a beautiful
man, eyes like seaglass—illegible eyes. A woman
does what a lady never would: stands up and demands
a legendary masterpiece of appreciation.
This doesn’t, to be clear, mean she loves you.
How many seconds does it take to adjust to a gaze?
Does it all come down to who saw who first?
The worst thing that can happen is nothing, then
false memories. It’s almost morning. It’s time
at its most tyrannical. We press you to
confess to better days. For courage, take a drink.


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Some Notes on Loss

Losing the thing can be worse than never having had it at all.

People may resent you for having something they don’t, but don’t expect them to like you better if you happen to lose it.

There’s not much else to life; the gains exist only to allow for loss.

I don’t know why I wrote “Sorry for your loss” on the Valentine.

Polyamory is the ambitious but campy attempt to love without loss. Love has infinite value when scarce, limited value otherwise.

Sometimes it takes losing a thing to realize how little you care. You may feel like an empty paper bag, waiting for the next thing.

The next thing is little comfort in the wake of loss. The brain wants to run concentric circles around the thought of the lost thing.

Sometimes you lose it like the memory of a dream—in half-steps, slippery.

So much history is missing if not lost outright.

I still think of that dog from my 20s as lost, versus gone.

I only listen to this song to remind me of my loss.

Take all the objects you fear losing, and burn them in a drunken fire in the desert. Rituals, a sense of the ceremonial, can ease the pain of loss.

A great loss can leave you feeling like a half-finished painting. Depressingly left in the easel.

Decay is a less dramatic kind of loss, but no less hurtful.

When love is lost, as opposed to a limb, what is the equivalent of phantom pain? Where, outside the body, is it experienced?



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poet kathleen rooneyKathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose poetry on demand. Her most recent book is the novel-in-poems Robinson Alone, and her novel O, Democracy! is forthcoming in Spring 2014.



poet elisa gabbertElisa Gabbert is the author of The Self Unstable (Black Ocean, 2013) and The French Exit (Birds LLC, 2010). She blogs here.


Carrie Ivy

Carrie Ivy (formerly Carrie Seitzinger) is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Ivy is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.