Party in the U.Niversity

Robyn’s Dancing on my Own is now the party anthem of grad student writing. Universities must blast this song at 1:30 pm sharp, every Thursday afternoon on the loudspeakers. If you are not within your faculty designated zone, the university asserts the right to blast the song on your state-issued headpieces until you finally realize the liminality of your predicament.

Enjoy your Thursday, you sack of emotions.


Formication of Thoughts

my scalp twitches below the skin
wiggling hairlines receding with the tide
the roll of a humpbacked beetle whose hardshell bursts my pores like angry blackheads
but who doesn’t mean to and apologizes profusely
“I’m cumbersome and something else,” he says
and the powdery moth with its dusted scales
flaking at the corner of my mouth
gloats of her delicacy

Then there is the termite that gnaws at my nose
whose sole concern seems to be my integrity
and his sisters, the carpenter ants who
like to build disastrous roller coasters
made from my synapses

and when the cars inevitably
track jolt bed
andcollidekaleidoscopefireworks me out of
I am convinced that they do not know how to run a Six Flags.
And are better suited to lacquered swimsuit covers
of Entomology Today

what of the cricket and the cricketeer
throttling my eyeballs into black wicket lashes
who think life is a game
gamble gobbed omelette thoughts
scrambled, half-digested

I am bursting with bugs
crawling from my ears, inviting one another for supper
the ladybird and arachnid
dining on mismatched lyrics twirled on a fork
and the early worm who misses the bird
to attend a dreadful showing of Foucault writ small
complaining to the front row: academics don’t get it
petty bourgeoisie them all

They like to chatter stupid ideas that keep me up at night
“She likes him but she’s got the head of a coconut.”
“Agreed, thick but runny.”
“Try erasing the Bourdieu and replacing with Butler.”
“That don’t make sense, though.”
“You’ll never know until you try.”
“Until your committee reads it and thinks you’re stupid.”
“Best left to the bibliography, then.”
“Become one with the dirt and die already.”
“Super, but your supervisor is still waiting for your chapter.”
and nails like scalpels, autoclaved in my mouth
vomit fingers
slice my skin and
extract the maggots
to get a moment of sleep

at last

But it is not so easy
The screams scatter into a million corners
and run up and down my veins
crawling and scratching and grasping and pulling
I squash the carapace between my fingers
to hear the pop of organs squeezing through crispy keratine
my head has gone silent
and skeletons litter my bed
I think no thoughts
but one
a chrysalis blooms by the moon

the young butterfly strokes my temple
with a crescent proboscis
“My darling,” I say.

Get Bent: a Suggestive Cue

Get bent
out of shape like an old rubber toy
you forgot to save at your parent’s garage sale
’cause you thought there was still something to save
in something so useless
but with so many memories rippling in its ripped biceps
you watched your childhood weep between the cracks in the sidewalk
for a bargain steal of a toonie
and you said it wouldn’t hurt
as some punk of eleven with a tongue out in defiance
laughs at hair “so totally retro”
takes your toy in his oversized hands
and pulls it as hard as he can

limbless corpse

and while you mourn the loss of your old plastic companion
’cause you didn’t know what else to do
I’ll kick you when you’re down
and snap your stretchy superman limbs
across the table
into the wall
and into the garbage

How You Call Me

The first time you say my name
you comb my hair
with your words
my bird’s nest of black
and your gnarled mouth

And when my tresses scrape my chin, your lashes beat across my skin, the softest voice whispering in my hair as I brush it back behind my ear

In your clementine sweater, your hands peel
your scarf from your neck
your bag from your shoulders
your glasses from your head
if you could peel anything else off
the juice would run down your legs
instead of my hands
and what a waste
that would be

But I am no dog and I will not wait
for you to shower sweetness on me like
spit when you talk
I still weep your words
from the citrus saliva in my eye
and stubborn I am
when you say my name again,
one year has passed

My head was untangled in your leave
and my hair, a straightened spider’s web
ponytailed pretty
to catch your new gaze
down my spine
but you aren’t interested
in rough play
out of my wagging tongue
unless you are the mead and vinegar
that attracts the bug

So standing ten feet apart in a cramped lecture hall
I climb to the emergency exit
so I don’t step on your toes
and hope if I am cruel, I am loved
but a self-exiled Rapunzel
I am anything
but myself

I crawl back to you.

And when my patience has run dry
you say my name and
I see a shadow in your voice, its riverbed
of rocks and buried feelings
in the absence of sound, a lingering touch
a collegial gesture from my non-dominant palm
to your right
fingers wrapped at the wrist
condensed moisture, perspiration
and I wonder whether that was it at all
in the paperwork that switches hands
and falls like snowflakes
on my flattened quills

A Little Success

Today is a good day to be spun like a record. I have found my grooves and the music is playing so sweetly from my spiraling ridges, down my fingers, and onto the keyboard. The last few days, I have been skipping tracks and looping sounds. I’ve been stuck in a rut. And while I have momentarily escaped the days made up of marred battlefields and trenches, I am dancing a broken waltz with my thesis, jittering and skittering on the razor’s edge of my page.

But no matter. Today, the chords are triumphant! The words tumble onto the page and finally, I feel insightful. I want to sing it to the sky, “I have figured out my third chapter argument–after all this time, I’m not stupid! I’ve just been procrastinating!”

If I’m honest, I would attribute this to the subliminal audios I have been listening to this morning. With such catchy titles as, “Overcome Creative Blockages, Writers Block, Find Solutions in Study Energy brain waves” and “Super Intelligence: 🍎 Memory Music, Improve Memory and Concentration, Binaural Beats Focus Music“, it’s hard to imagine them having an effect. Yet, here I am with a solid intro and argument after a week of nothingness. So, I guess, maybe they work. Who knows though, I’m not a doctor. Yet.

If I keep this up, they’ll give me a doctorate.

The Work of a Thesis

I met with my supervisor–it hit me like a backhanded slap that I need to work more. But how do I work more? I should spend less time writing a blog. Writing down my thoughts is therapeutic though. It gives me a sense of relief to put things down until I can’t anymore.

The deadline is approaching and submissions for dissertations is coming up. Here is my poem of the day:

A blank screen
snowy fields
fresh linen
feather down
threaded crevices with little sound
the muffled throes of gasping lungs
punctuated arteries
shattered ribs and things
I stifle a laugh
and the mask laughs too

The Long Wait

Tearing out my hair
In ire over chapters scant
A line here or there

In the frustrating world of getting a thesis done, the window of productivity seems to close slightly more every day. One hour of work is worth ten hours of agony I suppose. But is there anything to gleam from staring at a blank screen that doesn’t write itself? Patience, yes. We could all stand to be a little more respectful of our mental states. Kindness, too. We don’t normally get things done in a day. We should be generous to ourselves. We should love ourselves on our most difficult days. We should love ourselves when we cannot anymore. We should love ourselves when we wake from our three am benders or fall asleep on our screens. We should speak softly our admiration for our skills, whisper our appreciations on tender ears. Most of all, we should not take things too personally–if we depersonalize, desocialize, deemphasize, and deride ourselves into something other then selves, maybe we can get work done.

But then again, I’m at the graduate bar and I drink to get away from this.