Tag Archives: How To Be An American

Three “How to Be An American” poems up at Dead Snakes

18 Nov

mmmmm meat-states via Fooddiggity

Morning folks.

Many thanks to the always awesome Stephen at Dead Snakes for taking these three How to Be An American poems. This whole project has been really interesting, especially people’s reactions to it. As our Ex-president Bush said, “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.”

Happy Monday, America.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,


Three “How to be an American” poems up at the Blue Hour

11 Nov




So the very awesome trio over at Blue Hour accepted a couple of my poems from the How to be an American series that I’m working on. It’s odd I was just talking to a friend about how I’ve never had such an easy time writing poems – it’s like they’re practically writing themselves. I don’t know – it’s just been a really fun project and I guess with being bogged down in novel revision, this is a nice change of pace.

Anyway – thanks again to the Blue Hour peeps. And without further ado…..

Peace, Love and Starbursts,


Three ‘How to be an American’ Poems at Underground Books

7 Nov



This has truly been a crappy week. Truly. Truly truly truly NOT outrageous and NOT like Gem.

(good luck getting that song out of your head!)

But you know what’s NOT crappy about it?

It’s that the truly awesome James from Underground Books published a few of my new poems from the How to be an American series I’ve been working on.

So without further ado, here you go.

Thanks James, for taking a bit of the crap out of craptastic.

Also – this piece from Laurie Anderson about Lou Reed’s death is amazing. If I can face my own death or the death of people that I love with one third of this bravery and passion I will consider my life a success. And it also reminded me that one time I wrote a story about a girl who started a revolution because of a Lou Reed song. You can read it here if you want.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,


6 Poem Poetry Bomb

4 Nov

So I must have hit some sort of magical submission time jackpot because not one but two editors got back to me nearly immediately and posted the poems they accepted. Not that I mind long waits, but it’s so nice when it all goes in sync.

So here you go:

First up we have Boyslut and the always lovely Devlin with Do Say A Few Nice Things About People’s Homes When You Visit and Not to Be Happy Is Not Just a Misfortune, It Is a Failure

Many many thanks to Devlin for finding a home for these guys.

Secondly is Horror Sleaze and Trash (which is a wee bit NSFW so consider yourself warned) with But Americanism Means Believing America is a Special Nation Chosen By God and Despite Its Size the US is Not as Diverse a Country as We Like to Think and Even When We’re Relaxing, We’re Watching the Clock and finally When All Conversation Fails There Are Always Sports and The Children To Fall Back On.

(I’m so very excited about getting into Horror Sleaze and Trash cause they’re all such bad boys and I never get into bad boy places.)

These are all poems from the How To Be An America series I’ve been working on and it’s really great to see them get out there. This has been a really fun project and much different from anything that I wrote for The Wanting Bone or since.

So many thanks to the awesome editors.

Peace Love and Starbursts,


How To Be An American poem

29 Oct

Individual Liberty, in the American Mind, Became Synonymous with America, and Americans Consider Themselves the World’s Freest People

There is a crowd of tourists

blocking the subway turnstiles

at Union Square.

They can’t figure out which way

to swipe their Metrocard

and I’m thinking to myself,

this is why tokens were better


when the cop taps me on the shoulder.

I stare at him

a little confused

and realize that even though

I peed at the bar before we left

I think I might have to go again.


“We need to check your bag,” he tells me,

pointing to his partner

at the table.

At first I’m confused

and then annoyed

but I comply

because he’s a cop

and if he says he needs to check my bag,


It must be true.


I drop it on the table

and the female cop

glares at me,

her tight face

under her little hat

and suddenly I hate her.


“Open it. Remove the contest of your bag, ma’am.”


I sigh loudly

because now I’m pissed

and from it

pull the new jacket I bought

at Old Navy because it’s getting cold

and I don’t have a jacket

and the empty plastic water bottle.


“Good enough?” I ask

before ramming the contents back in my bag.

It’s a pretty shoddy search

as far as searches go.

If I had a bomb

I could have folded it in the coat

or slipped it in the pocket.


She doesn’t look in there

never even touches the jacket

because she doesn’t really want to know.

I’m just here to fill

the White Girl Quota for the day.


They’ve been doing this since 2005

and I’ve never been stopped.

Sure I’ve seen the police, standing like SS

hands folded, eyeing us from under their hats

but we’ve all just accepted it.

It’s the price of freedom, we tell ourselves

or those that control our freedom

tell us

and we agree.

Because we’re Americans and nothing if not agreeable.

Either way, you wouldn’t be worried unless you had something to hide right?

Isn’t that true? Isn’t that what they ask you if you protest?


“Everything okay, Osama?” my husband asks me

as I rejoin him,

now pushing past the tourists,

slipping through the turnstile

and catching the N train back to Brooklyn

just before they close the doors

thinking to myself

so help me god,

if I had missed this train…..


Pushcart, Poems, and Paintings

23 Sep


So the really wonderful ladies over at Blue Hour press were nice enough to nominate my poem, Worship for a Pushcart. The Pushcart is a best of the small press award. I think it’s 100% awesome that out of all the poems that Blue Hour published this year, they picked mine. I can’t thank them enough for their support. As I’ve said before, I have the utmost respect for small presses.

Speaking of poetry, I’ve started writing a chapbook tentatively titled How To Be An American. Normally when I put a chapbook together, I just haphazardly throw together 50-60 poems and hope for the best. But this time, I’m writing with a theme.


So I’ve been reading this book called Culture Shock: America which was written to acclimate new immigrants to the weird ways of Americans. The whole things has been sort of strange because while the book definitely has gross assumptions and stereotypes, some of it hits so close to home it’s unsettling. I pulling a line from the book and then writing a poem. Like this:

Americans Have an Enthusiastic Look. They Feel Empowered. No one Else Has That Special Kind of Confidence


Making our way through Paris,

my husband has left behind the baseball caps

that normally grace his head.

We’ve packed only plain t-shirts.

We keep the map folded, out of sight in our back pocket.

We speak in low, hushed tones

anxious about speaking English

and our American accents

and yet,

here he comes, in tight jeans, a small scarf,

his face shaved,

lithe, attractive,

crossing the wide open

space of the garden

points and says “Obama, ça va?”

He gives us a thumbs-up and a too loud laugh before passing.

So this weekend, I went to see the Chagall exhibit at the Jewish Museum and on the way, had a conversation with the mister about ny and he was telling me about this thing that he read on Salon (which I can’t find to link to) about two competing writers talking about the cost of NYC. Here’s my take on this. Rent is high, but there are so many cheap/free things to do in the city it’s insane. All summer there are free movies, free Shakespeare in the Park, plays that have discounted nights, nearly every museum has a free day. For instance every Saturday you can see these for free from now until February:

and every friday night, you can go to the MoMA, like we did after the Chagall, and see these for free:

and you know, not to mention this:


And then afterwards you’ll spend all day singing Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog….after the war. (Curse you Paul Simon!)

All I’m saying is it’s a pretty good deal. People should really take advantage of it.

Peace, love and arty-happiness,


%d bloggers like this: