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I snapped it over my knee like kindling.

From: The Missouri Review
Volume 36, Number 2, 2013
pp. 151-152 | 10.1353/mis.2013.0055

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Then I built a little fire and set a match to it. The flames were purple at the tip. The purple-pink of moth orchids pinned to a prom dress. Yes, I snapped desire over my knee and arsoned it. You better believe there was a soundtrack. Nothing happens without a soundtrack anymore. Half the time it's Janis, the other half it's some talentless bum with his thirsty lips wrapped around a mouth harp. Only then, when desire was just a puny twig fire, did my junkie come back from the dead. He made a beautiful ghost, fox eyes and deep blue unruly curls. Arms constellated with needle marks. I thought of the time he pressed an ice-cold can of Coke against my sunburned ass. Those patent-leather boots I wore when I first got to New York. How he opened my blisters with a razor blade. I had turned out exactly as he'd said I would. I'd thrown all of my rings and bracelets into the river. My bloomers and beribboned corsets, sliced into dust rags. I was shabby, imperious, off-kilter, like his Grandma Sally. Limping like Sally, the queen of East End Avenue. Hello, darlings, she'd call from her seat in front of the easel. She'd pause midbrushstroke as she painted one of her strange little portraits of her cat. Sally had many empty bedrooms. Many vanity tables covered in rhinestone baubles and dust. Her deathbed was child-sized, though she was a big woman with big hair the color of silver queen sweet corn. Over the bed was a small, square window which neatly framed the bridge that spanned the Hudson. When I bent down to give Sally a last kiss, I saw that the bridge was made of matchsticks. Every now and then, one would flare blue and fizzle out. I wasn't the last person my junkie kissed before he overdosed, you know. It was Howard, who was prone on his own deathbed, ruby lesions hickeying his neck. My junkie was loyal to some things, disloyal to others. His loyalty to the needle was admirable. Even his ghost, a junkie through and through, heating a spoon of delirium over the smoldering punk of my ruined ardor.

Diane Seuss  

"Here's what I can say: (1) Three out of four of these poems are shaped like a coffin or a door. (2) As a child, I lured adults to my puppet show by offering free beer. We didn't have the money for beer or puppets. I wasn't lying; I was imagining, which is a form of hope. (3) I can't get K's wedding dress out of my mind. Catholicism, tradition, parents, love[mdash>her dress was heavy with it, armored by it. It seemed the only way to find her body again would be to take scissors to that dress, a dangerous operation for both bride and groom. (4) That dress: I wanted to wear it; I wanted to be released from it. Thus, I desired junkies who were addicted to delirium. Delirium and desire, the counterbalance to meaning achieved via the conventional mind. (5) A poem believes it can pull the dying back from the precipice, the sinner from the sin. Indeed, a poem believes it can love the sinner and raise the dead. (6) Free beer for all, and a sip of blood plum cordial, though there is no cordial, there is no beer." Diane Seuss's second collection, Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open, received the Juniper Prize for Poetry and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2010. Her poems and essays have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Ecotone and Mid-American Review, among others. Diane received the Cultural Center of Cape Cod Poetry Prize in 2011 and the Summer Literary Seminars Poetry Prize. She received a Pushcart Prize in 2012. Diane was the MacLean Distinguished Visiting Writer at Colorado College in fall 2012. She is Writer in Residence at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

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Diane Seuss. "Oh no, it's one of those times, and: I snapped it over my...

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