Archive for the ‘Not a Poet’ Category

A Stunning Essay

March 20, 2017

Things have been––well, let’s say, harried around here recently, so I am half-assing this post by pointing you in the direction of an incredible piece of writing someone recently reminded me of.  It’s more than half-assed, in fact: it’s a selfish move, because I want to pretend that I have some affiliation with someone who can write so well, even though we’ve emailed twice and I’m resorting to cutting and pasting her words.  Ah well––extenuating circumstances!  Here’s a teaser of “What’s in a Necronym?” by Jeannie Vanasco:


I am named after the daughter my father lost.

I remember the day I first learned about her. I was eight. My father was in his chair, holding a small white box. As my mother explained that he had a dead daughter named Jeanne, pronounced the same as my name, “without an i,” he opened the box and looked away. Inside was a medal Jeanne had received from a church “for being a good person,” my mother said. My father said nothing. I said nothing. I stared at the medal.

Later that day, in the basement, my mother told me Jeanne died in a car accident in New York when she was sixteen, many years before I was born. Two other girls were in the car. Jeanne sat between the driver and the other passenger in the front seat. The driver tried to pass a car, hesitated, then tried to pull back into her lane. She lost control and Jeanne was thrown from the car and killed instantly.

“Your father blames himself,” my mother said. “He can’t talk about it.”

“Why?” I asked.

“He gave her permission to go out that night.”

After Jeanne died, my father bought two burial plots next to one another, one for Jeanne and one for himself. When he and his first wife divorced, she stipulated that he forfeit his plot, and he agreed. Soon after the divorce, he went to court again, this time for beating up a bum on the street. “Why should you be alive?” my father had asked him. “You’re not working and my daughter’s dead.” The judge remembered my father and let him go.

“Did you know his first wife?” I asked my mother.

“No, he was divorced long before I met him. All this happened in New York.”

I lived in Ohio, where my father and mother met. In my mind, New York was made of skyscrapers, taxicabs, and car accidents.

“What did Jeanne look like?”

My mother said she had never seen a photo.

That spring I painted portraits of Jeanne in watercolor. I titled them Jeanne. My art teacher told me she was disappointed that such a good student could misspell her own name. From then on, I included an i.

Celebrity Week

September 20, 2016

I guess it’s celebrity week over here at Itinerant Daughter, which means today I’ll re-publish a poem written by a ten or eleven-year-old Monica Lewinsky.  I first heard of the poem “I Am Pizza” while reading an old New York Magazine article about Robert Bingham, editor of now-defunct journal Open City and publishing wunderkind who died of a heroin overdose.  Good piece, good poem, good pizza.

I Am A Pizza

I am a pizza
I can be a delicious lunch, dinner
or breakfast, if you’re weird.
I have a great deal of toppings on me
I am a round and flat piece of dough
with lots of toppings.
I make your mouth water.
I’m very good to eat, but I’m
I am a mouth’s best friend.
I make you say, “Yum, Yum”.
I am a pizza.

Great. Fucking. Title.

October 20, 2015


No can do.  I am

doctor not of medicine,

but Latinity.

I am the future,

singular, indicative.

The first person.  What

do you take me for?

If is a real condition.

If I’m a pill, then

you are double blind.

What you don’t know can’t hurt you.

Spoonful of sugar,

it’s all in your head,

this dendritic alchemy

of pain.  Nothing works.
~A. E. Stallings


September 18, 2014

I’ve been gone for quite some time, and I’m so, so sorry, but you see, I have four weddings to attend in the span of four weeks (only one left!) and that, plus other travels, have taken me to Providence, Rhode Island, Ohio and Boston.  So needless to say, I’m a little tired.  I thought that I would spend my many hours in transit, however, catching up on some reading I really should have done in high school, so I took the collected poems of Emily Dickinson out of the library.  I think in high school, I found her work too quaint and formal for my tastes, but then recently I was thinking about poem 260 (“I’m Nobody!  Who are you?) and  I figured I ought to give it another shot.  If you want don’t want your baggage to go overboard or your mind to feel sharp and lively, though, I wouldn’t recommend it.  The below, though, took me aback; my reaction perhaps belies my mature exterior.


A little bread –– a crust –– a crumb —

A little trust — a demijohn —

Can keep the soul alive —

Not portly, mind! but breathing — warm —

Conscious —  as old Napoleon,

The night before the Crown!


A modest lot — A fame petite —

A brief Campaign of sting and sweet

Is plenty!  Is enough!

A sailor’s business is the shore!
A Soldier’s — balls!  Who asketh more,

Must seek the neighboring life!


September 9, 2014

ID: “Dylan reportedly visits Chabad synagogues; on Yom Kippur in 2007 he attended Congregation Beth Tefillah, in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was called to the Torah for the sixth aliyah.”

can you imagine?

you’re in synagogue

atoning for your many, many sins
and BAM
bob dylan
ML: yes i can, bc i’ve contemplated just this eventuality
ML: look at this


Casting for Biopics of Poets

September 9, 2014

So, Robert Lowell in the biopic Locked Razors (too morbid?  Title open to discussion) will be played by…

Kinda dreamy, no?  In a bad boy sort of way.

Kinda dreamy, no? In a bad boy sort of way.


Grows out his hair a little, and bingo bango.

Grows out his hair a little, and bingo bango.

My boyfriend and I, just apropos of the above, happened to see Michael Shannon recently, looking quite disheveled and walking the streets of Brooklyn muttering to himself.  This segues nicely into the following scary tidbit: I see Philip Seymour Hoffman all the time.  Mostly in subway stations, but on a super regular basis.  A pallid face zooms by me, and I turn around to catch a glimpse of a strawberry blond head, and I think, “Hey, that’s Philip Seymour Hoffman!”  But… isn’t he dead? you’re thinking.  Yes, he is.  Hence the “scary.”

Creativity Mathematics

August 14, 2014

 “It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing” (Gertrude Stein) + “Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity” (Twylla Tharp) = “29. You’re a Genius all the time” (Jack Kerouac)

Anne Sexton Fellowship at McLean Hospital

August 7, 2014

Announcing a program I have helped to develop––the Anne Sexton Fellowship at McLean Hospital!  Start your engines.  See the application here, and download below.  Email completed applications to

The chance of a lifetime!

The chance of a lifetime!


Application for the Anne Sexton Fellowship at McLean

An Idea

June 8, 2014

Has anyone done this yet?  I’m willing to bet yes, but if not, who wants a co-authorship?

“Joyce moved out of the house in March 1904 and rented a room close to the Dublin docks.  He declined the university’s offer to teach French (he suspected it was the priests’ way of controlling him) and cast about for other options.  He wanted to start a newspaper called The Goblin with one of his friends––all they needed was 2,000 pounds.  Joyce and Gogarty talked excitedly about compiling an anthology of poetry and witticisms gathered from public toilets.  Joyce thought of turning himself into a joint-stock company and selling shares.  He imagined that the prices woudl go up for his lucky investors as soon as his publications began to change Western civilization, and his lucky 1904 investors could get him at a bargain.”

~The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham

End of Days

June 6, 2014

Book of Revelations:

When when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on earth.

And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.  And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted and gave glory to the God of heaven.

The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.


Anne Sexton:

“The Risk

When a daughter tries suicide

and the chimney falls down like a drunk

and the dog chews her tail off

and the kitchen blows up its shiny kettle

and the vacuum cleaner swallows its bag

and the toilet washes itself in tears

and the bathroom scales weigh in the ghost

of the grandmother and the windows,

those sky pieces, ride out like boats

and the grass rolls down the driveway

and the mother lies down on her marriage bed

and eats up her heart like two eggs.