A nice place to visit

Mommy, the universe
is such a big scary place,

says the little girl with red hair.
Oh, yes, it is such a big scary place,
says the red-headed mother
of the little girl with red hair.
But don’t worry, dear,
we’re not going there.

(Overhead in the Hayden Planetarium, New York City. Submitted by J.R. Solonche)


Body collapsing in on itself
A bowed head
Shoulders curling over chest
Angling torso away from others
Uncontrollable shuddering or shivering
Hair hanging in face, hiding the eyes
A downward gaze
A flushed face
Hitching chest
Eyes dull, lifeless
Pulling down a shirt hem
Hands clutching at stomach
Covering face with hands
Bottom lip or chin trembling
Throat bobbing
Arms falling to sides, lifeless
Uncontrolled tears
Flinching from noise or from being touched
Huddling, crouching
Neck bending forward
Movement is slow, jerky
Knees locked tight together
Cold sweat
Stumbling, staggering
Backing up against a wall
Sliding into a corner
Hands gripping elbows
Pigeon toes
Sobs trapped in throat
Drawing knees up to the body’s core
Wrapping arms around self
Runny nose

(From The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, page 90. Submitted by J.R. Solonche)

What I’m drinking

Last month, I was invigorated
by an 11 a.m. restorative Vieux Carre
at the Courosel Bar
in New Orleans.
Fill a shaker with ice and add
a dash each of Benedictine,
Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters
and a shot each of rye whiskey,
cognac and Punt e Mes. Shake,
then strain into a glass
filled with fresh ice and garnish
with an Amarena cherry —
then let the late-morning voodoo
do its work.

Taken from an interview with Mario Batali in The New York Times Magazine, December 1, 2013. Submitted by J. R. Solonche.

I, Emily Dickinson

I am afraid to own a body
I am alive I guess
I am ashamed, I hide
I asked no other thing

I bet with every wind that blew
I breathed enough to take the trick
I bring an unaccustomed wine
I came to buy a smile today

I can wade grief
I cannot be ashamed
I cannot buy it, ‘tis not sold
I cannot dance upon my toes

I cannot live with you
I cannot meet the spring unmoved
I cannot see my soul but know ‘tis there
I cannot want it more

I can’t tell you but you feel it
I cautious scanned my little life
I could bring you jewels had I a mind to
I could die to know

I could not drink it, sweet
I could not prove the years had feet
I could suffice for him, I knew
I counted till they danced so

I cried at pity, not at pain
I cross till I am weary
I did not reach thee
I died for beauty, but was scarce

I dreaded that first robin so
I dwell in possibility
I envy seas whereon he rides
I fear a man of frugal speech

I felt a cleaving in my mind
I felt a funeral in my brain
I felt my life with both my hands
I fit for them

I found the words to every thought
I gained it so
I gave myself to him
I got so I could take his name

I groped for him before I knew
I had a daily bliss
I had a guinea gold
I had been hungry all the years

I had no cause to be awake
I had no time to hate
I had not minded walls
I had some things that I called mine

I had the glory – that will do
I have a bird in spring
I have a king who does not speak
I have never seen “Volcanoes”

I have no like but this
I haven’t told my garden yet
I heard a fly buzz when I died
I heard as if I had no ear

I held a jewel in my fingers
I hide myself within my flower
I keep my pledge
I knew that I had gained

I know a place where summer strives
I know lives, I could miss
I know of people in the grave
I know some lonely houses off the road

I know suspense – it steps so terse
I know that he exists
I know where wells grow, droughtless wells
I learned at least what home could be

I like a look of agony
I like to see it lap the miles
I live with him, I see his face
I lived on dread

I lost the world the other day
I made slow riches but my gain
I make his crescent fill or lack
I many times thought peace had come

I meant to find her when I came
I meant to have but modest needs
I measure every grief I meet
I met a king this afternoon

I never felt at home below
I never hear that one is dead
I never hear the word “escape”
I never lost as much but twice

I never saw a moor
I never told the buried gold
I noticed people disappeared
I often passed the village

I pay in satin cash
I play at riches to appease
I prayed at first a little girl
I read my sentence steadily

I reason earth is short
I reckon when I count at all
I robbed the woods
I rose because he sank

I saw no way – the heavens were stitched
I saw that the flake was on it
I saw the wind within her
I see thee better in the dark

I see thee clearer for the grave
I send two sunsets
I send you a decrepit flower
I shall keep singing

I shall know why, when time is over
I shall not murmur if at last
I should have been too glad, I see
I should not dare to be so sad

I should not dare to leave my friend
I showed her heights she never saw
I sing to use the waiting
I sometimes drop it, for a quick

I started early, took my dog
I stepped from plank to plank
I stole them from a bee
I sued the news, yet feared the news

I suppose the time will come
I taste a liquor never brewed
I tend my flowers for thee
I think I was enchanted

I think just how my shape will rise
I think that the root of the wind is water
I think the hemlock likes to stand
I think the longest hour of all

I think to live may be a bliss
I thought that nature was enough
I thought the train would never come
I tie my hat, I crease my shawl

I took my power in my hand
I took one draught of life
I tried to think a lonelier thing
“I want” – it pleaded all its life

I was a phoebe, nothing more
I was the slightest in the house
I watched her face to see which way
I watched the moon around the house

I went to heaven
I went to thank her
I worked for chaff and earning wheat
I would distil a cup

I would not paint a picture
I years had been from home

All the lines beginning with the first person pronoun ‘I’ from the Index of First Lines, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Edited by Thomas H. Johnson (Little, Brown and Company, 1960). Submitted by J.R. Solonche.

The Wisdom of the East

The face
of nature

all of

life’s ups
and downs.

Carve your
name on

your heart,
not in

You are

the center
of attention

you go.

Three slips of paper inside fortune cookies from a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, New York City. Submitted by J.R. Solonche.

The Secret Life of Daniel Craig, Poet

Awake at dawn with nothing to do.
I don’t want to think about it.

Aung San Suu Kyi.

Travel. Home.
It all depends on how you interpret them.

Answering questionnaires.
I don’t know if I do.

“Fuck off.”
At a free bar.

Opposable toes.

My knees.
Oh, they’re just perfect.

Krill. Ink.
Where I live now.

My third nipple.
A good mustache. A good mustache.

E.E. Cummings and Kurt Vonnegut.
Maggie and Milly and Molly and May.

Blisters. Quickly.
“Breathe in… breathe out. Repeat.”

Daniel Craig’s interview answers in The Proust Smackdown: Three Kings and a Questionnaire, Vanity Fair Magazine, February 2012. Submitted by J.R. Solonche.