Pursuing that Stipend

For your 30th birthday

you are leaving me

You’ve been trying

to get back to La France

for most of your 20s

 

I tell you

forget about the money

and maybe, for my 30th birthday

well, I’ll just have to visit you,

won’t I?

 

But I changed my mind

for my 30th birthday

I am moving

somewhere sunny

and I’m not going to pay

for a goddamned thing.

The Rolodex of these Past Years

The names of the waitresses

fill the rolodex in my head

its not the local paper,

the people who have bought a book

from my backpack,

filled with them

the teachers who have made me

into their pet

no, its the ocean

and the dishes

that kept me coming back

I think of the flatlands,

the bicycle i would get

with bells and a basket

how the important things come with me

how I can train my puppy

to sit in a basket

how there will always be more waitresses

and it makes me feel shitty

her name was lorraine

she brought me my coffee

and here i am,

using the past tense already

Consider Leaving

“Have you ever once considered leaving?”

My professor asks, as we’re talking about what’s next,

the possibilities

 

I think about the diners first

all items saturated with butter

the black coffee, the sausages

the names of all the waitresses

I think of the ocean, surrounding

the tourists i have learned to cash in on

The job, hard won, finally editing

I think of my boyfriend

and know, that on any whim,

he would absolutely come with me

I think about the tightknit community

i’ve fostered with good women

the soup they’ve made, the snow banks

ive climbed, only three or four,

to get to their cozy couches

for tea in a snowstorm

I think about my enemies

the gratuitous snow and ice and sleet

the parking bans, the accidents ive been in

the police

 

and I say, “No, not really.”

He says, “because out of state, there’s money

and I’m sure you could get into

some of these prestigious colleges in the city

but don’t you have to use your money

to fix your teeth? You could go to school

for free.”

 

“On second thought,” I say, “Yeah,

I could leave.

But how would I live?

I’ve found a job that really suits me.”

 

“They would provide you with a stipend

that would cover living expenses.

You would only work for them.”

 

I think again of the butter,

the sausages, the weight i’ve gained

My prior experiences living

the legacy of the starving artist

and I think, I could do it again

 

On turning thirty

To-Do

  1. Clear up my acne so I can focus on wrinkles. I’m almost 30.
  2. Surgically remove my remaining baby teeth for the same reason
  3. Submit to the top literary magazines
  4. Make necessary apologies and redactions to various members of the local writing community
  5. Drop out of my shitty, two-bit school and apply for an MFA
  6. Privatize the previous statement to avoid any hurt feelings
  7. Pay my outstanding citations
  8. For the first time in my life, do my taxes
  9. Try to avoid handing in any finals from a jail cell this semester, like my father

To remember:

Bukowski’s teeth were also rotten

I am not the first poet to come from nothing