All Subjects Are Real


25 January 2014
10:00 am

T. —

We had internet this weekend, so I could have written a bit, but as you say – I enjoy being present – so these Dublin letters are all backdated. I like the idea of my letters being titled into sections someday when I’m maybe famous: the Dublin letters, the Scotland letters, the Amsterdam letters. I’m all for it. Someone tell my biographer.

I haven’t read Possession by A.S. Byatt in a long time, but part of what I really loved about that book (besides the letters, of course) is the role of the biographer, who approaches her subject like an academic, except that her subject is a real person. I guess that’s actually true of all academics and their subjects — all subjects are real. But what I really mean is that the biographer almost brings her subject back into existence. A living breathing person again, at least while the biographer choreographs the return to life. If I were — when I am an academic, what is my subject? Is it poetry, or is it something more than that as well? I’m not entirely sure.

We went to the Dublin Writers Museum today, but they didn’t come alive for me.

Thanks for your list of what I’m good at. Thanks for your support, is really what I’m saying. I feel like I’m in a translation phase. Do you ever get that? Where you say a statement, but almost immediately follow up with what I mean to say is….


If I Leave You Then Maybe I Won’t Have to Miss You So Much
Ali Shapiro

Lately I keep things
just to throw them away: practice,
practice. What I mean is, I’ve had enough
longing, enough of nothing
ever being enough. Look how the earth
shrugs its mountainous shoulders, how the cows don’t blink
unless there’s a fly, how the pavement quits
to dirt without warning, how the river can’t tell
itself from the rain. Since when can I not
get over anything? Just watch me go
to this town’s lone bar, which is open and chock-full
of blondes, blondes, blondes. The jukebox plays country
for free, which leaves me
with my ballast of quarters and cornered
by a woman who tells me she breaks things: horses
n’hearts. I wish she would take
my heart out back and shoot it, lame
as it is, run as it’s been
by you into the ground, but she’d rather teach me
to two-step, which it turns out
I’m born for having indecisively shuffled back and forth
through your door all these years. But from here
you’re a myth, tiny
jockey, impossible as Brooklyn,
elevators, it not being summer anymore.
Look, even the shades
are half-drawn and drooping
like eyelids, the walls
like the patrons, sloppy
and slouched. I promise I’ll love you forever
if you please just don’t make me
start now, in the brief dumb calm
of the just-fine, with this cowgirl pressing
her big stone-washed hips into mine. I want to take her home
but to someone else’s home, or perhaps just send her home
with someone else. What I mean is, I’m tired
of everything gorgeous. Of the burden
of burning. Of wondering
when. What I mean is, on some nights I miss you so much
that I never want to see you again.


Good morning,


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