- Dear Daphne,
Neither your mother nor I will ever disappear.The universe is another story.When you die, you will not, as you fear,open your eyes to see nothing.As my father told me so I would not worry, I tell you:“You only have two hands.”My father told me lots of things that weren’t true.Forgive your father.Forgive or misremember. But not both.Practice your violin at least five minutes every day,and remember a hundred dollars for therapy is cheap.A civil war is not necessarily one fought for the rights of others.Relief and happiness are kissing cousins.Do not kiss your cousins.When wealth kisses ignorance, the devil says yes three times.Money won’t wake you if you’re damned tired.God will, eventually, give you way more than you can handle.Don’t read while walking.Our fellow thinker Simone Weil said,“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.”Here is how you say, “I can handle this,” in French:Je suis handle this.Give yourself more than seven choices and anything you choose will be a disappointment.Observe one, do one, teach one.If water is the universal solvent, then boredom is the bass beat of suffering.Can you feel it?You will, eventually, have to forgive me for being reductive.Do not join any religion that is less than, say, five hundred years old.Even though the universe is filled with way more antimatter than matter,you still can’t be a hater. [End Page 354] Why?It’s not necessary.When I would ask my father if I could have a dog or a go-cart or an ice-cream coneto go with my dessert, he would say, “No, it’s not necessary.” He was smart.I’m smart enough to know I’m not smart.It’s lack of imagination that breaks up a marriage.Love words like ur and angstrom.To be great at something, says our thinker E. O. Wilson,you have to be angry.Giving more love to something than God intends is sentimental.It’s fine to like Taylor Swift.The poet I most often read when I want to write saysthe hardest thing about being a poet is what to dowith the other twenty-three hours in the day.I bet he’s a good listener.Be a good listener.Listen when I tell you it has never not been painful to wake up in the morning.And in the evening, I have never once gone joyfully to bed.This is how I know life is suffering and unfair.This is how I know to choose between justice and mercy.To do this yourself, you may have to tweak your life so you don’t want to be special.The reason I won’t say XXXXXXXXXX is because I get it.You say it. But not out loud.Once I was made unhappy by a personwho signed her e-mails with “All my best,.”What she meant was Go hang yourself,.Therefore, even if it means being thought ofas an asshole, always sign off with love and sincerity. [End Page 355]
frank giampietro is the interim director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center and an assistant professor of English at Cleveland State University and the Northeast Ohio MFA program. He is the author of Begin Anywhere and coauthor of Spandrel with Denise Bookwalter and Book O’ Tondos with Megan Marlatt. He created the Web poetry journal La Fovea, and his writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, FENCE, and Ploughshares. He lives in Farmington, Maine.