Wendy Lotterman



to vanessa


you've got to be kidding me.
This obsession with inversion is so basic, so goth. So where will you go when it's done.
You're like a pancake, reversing your encounter with heat before you get burned,
avoiding extremities as if the summer were hell and the equator a literal ring of fire.
The summer is hell, a wet donut, a collective puddle of our warm baggy days.
It's possible to forget this, so long as your world is a series of air-conditioned rooms
that lead seamlessly into the next.
Convenient domestic collusion. I'm living in it. And I love it.
You're just like that, secular agoraphobia minus the botanical distraction beyond the window.
My room is absolutely worthless for this reason.
What I call the "courtyard" is really a "shaft."
People are always challenging my weak synonyms;
Vanessa, I'm so lazy with similarity.
What I'm telling you is this:
all things, even big things, become dioramas in your hand.
We're living on a crumb here
and I just hope I never run up against the rim of the shoebox
or discover the redwoods are pack of toothpicks,
scattered where my Nikes used to be.

But what do you know of anxiety, anyway?
You're like a cross between the nihilists and Spencer's Gifts.
Or that's what I'd say if I knew anything about either.
I don't know anything about you,
except what you look like as you walk to West 4th after listening to Cass,
who broke our hearts and then laughed all the way to the basketball court.
Lol at my having said "our"—how inclusive, how transparently hopeful.
We're a dreamy consonance
bloated out and diplopic,
separated by a buffer of negative attraction.
You're so dark, so aged.
I'm honeycomb teal and magenta.
I have no idea where to find you.
Is there any way in which we ever share the same place?
That isn't a pun, Vanessa,
I'm just trying to gauge whether I'd win if you were Kevin Bacon and I were playing the game.
Are there even enough poets for six degrees to exist?
My guess is we all max out at three,
but our sparseness is concealed by the smallness of rooms that make us feel lush and many.
It's so childish to be made to feel good,
like getting a gift on your sibling's birthday.
I need new clothes.
I haven't cared about my outfit in two years, and my indifference isn't even political.
How big are you under all those black clothes.
Your strange frame—such a soft-boiled mystery!
You're a little bit oracular, a little bit cool,
forecasting Japanese street wear before any of its models could talk.
I forget what your voice is like.
You once had me chant anthems at your reading and I thought
"I don't understand the genius hidden within this"
but the genius was you making me think that.
What do you think of training our attention to refresh like a feed?
What do you think of watching one episode of TV before bed?
I pop a melatonin and linger in the queer space between sleep and wakefulness.
After months of debate I parted with a dollar
and upgraded from white to brown noise.
It's more sultry less whiney, more bass less snare.
It would be fun if you were sappy,
if you had guilty pleasures you hadn't yet rebranded with pride,
like all the poets who love their love for pop culture.
Would be fun if you really gave a shit what I think,
and maybe you do, but I wouldn't know.
I don't know anything about you, and it is really for the best.

I can't truly exhaust you like I exhausted Mahbod, exhausted Ezra, exhausted Caroline, exhausted Gil, exhausted Jenny, exhausted Max, exhausted Anna, exhausted Erica, exhausted Sylvain, exhausted Kit, exhausted Hannah, exhausted Michelle, exhausted Amy, exhausted Joanna, exhausted Dave, exhausted Stephane, exhausted Charlie, exhausted Peter, exhausted Michael, exhausted both Brandons, exhausted my therapist, exhausted Nick, exhausted Parker, exhausted Micaela, exhausted Monica, exhausted Dana, exhausted Eric, exhausted Emily, exhausted David, exhausted Maddie, exhausted Eddy, exhausted my mom, my dad, my adolescence, my work, my boredom, my fantasy, my sex life, my illness, my crushes, my taste, my mythology.

imagining you hugging your hypothetical niece on her 8th grade graduation
is like picturing the president pinch his fat.
I have no idea where you come from, though it better be cold.
The heat of your topical entrance is so sarcastically bright,
it's so palm-trees-on-a-button-down-shirt-at-the-disco.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you must be a reaction to something,
you're soft pink and anaphylactic,
an homage to a rule that's just been broken,
time sensitive and sensitive to the touch.
The metaethics of your teenage dream degrade like a playing card,
buried beneath a baseball field and re-erupting just after each rain.
You talk softly to all my superstitions,
and I ablute infinitely just to ward off your basic evocation of threat.
Look, the bouquets we find sprouting from waste have been stuck there,
a flag in a fecal moon, secondary and anthemic,
a monument to the hand that brought them.
Listen, everything is barren,
and yet my doubts divide like chromosomes.
I'm cultivating more and more these days,
a desktop full of sea-monkeys competitively dying.
You're just a lightweight bully:
Jeff's concentrate flushed out with water,
a glass of seltzer with a dash of cranberry
masquerading as true syrupy cola.
You're waify and selfishly so.
Even enemies can’t throw a fit over your taste.
I mean the way you taste, not your taste in others.
I can't imagine you fucking
though there is something very sexual about you—
you and your falsely a-sentimental demeanor debunked by the paradox of
hating something to the point of proving how much you care.
Maybe poetry is your hypothetical niece,
and I am watching you hug her in this jagged abstinence of warmth.
You live in LA, right?
Sometimes I think about moving there in those dangerous polyps of true love
in which Mahbod is the holographic Pokemon that gets me every time.
Why I care is irrelevant to the thrill I get from his weird iridescence, re-erupting just after each rain.
My therapist trips through his name and I feel even more tenderly.

Back to the dash of cranberry you're too cowardly to dump,
why don't you flip the ratios so that carbonation is the birthmark not the body?
I'm having a crisis of faith, Vanessa.
I think I might not care in a way that matters more than your apathy.
What do you think I should do?
Could you just get back to me soon,
lend me the metaethics of your calculated teenage delirium while I bury myself beneath the playing field and radiate superstition through the summer?
I'll say this: you're like a loner whose birthday is everyday.
A pariah distracted by cupcakes.  

At the risk of making you into me I'll say this:
it seems so serious not to be here.
But I'm exhausted,
so I'll linger in the queer space between
the inkiness of everything I say
and the glorious gravehole that I am.
I don't mean to be you,
but if I knew you
I probably would.




like doing angel dust in the kale section at the start of the world


We fear we may have lost you, in earth, on earth but not above the earth.
The earth itself lost like a wavering recommendation of place.
This isn't the end, just the loss of an astronaut to space, hidden in the breast of speculation, a microfiber mystery continuing—or not—beyond the curtain of our restless attention. Stephen, we're still listening. So are you here or what? I can't tell which way I've made you, the definition of "here" itself a mouth inside a spout inside a mouth, or our bottomless Ponzi-ed location, or a screensaver repeated into the infinity of a pattern that provides for the myth of your return.
You could come and go as you please,
or just go on forever, in the greedy dislocation of the woods,
off the grid, recreated daily outside the turnstile of our servers,
blissed into the negative surveillance of the glitch, facile and newborn,
tenderized in the delicacy of surface,
affective split-screen ubiquity,
so fucking lush, maybe too lush,
never not enough if "enough" is a movable home latched to the back of a car I can't not drive.
I'm a terrible driver. I misunderstood the signal, a wavering recommendation of meaning, ambivalence in the garden where the young girls take their shade. And really, what could be read in the novelty of a gesture so fresh that the reference is the original event. A hand devoured by floral confusion, an invitation warped in the moisture. I want you to have it, Stephen, whatever it is you like. And just like T.I.'s line about head, your vulgar compliment deforms into the boring ratio of a euphemism so perfect that I believe the symbol to stand for itself, a pool of water totally untouched and disguised by the mystery of its wetness. You continue everywhere in the arena of all I don’t know. The luxury of life like a building, a future solid and uncommon, immune to our wet revelation, a memorial for the moment that I thought this to be.
The threat becomes really clear:
if I keep writing this way, I might get stuck like this forever.
I'll relax my face, just in case I grow out of the ability to relate to the feeling accidentally memorialized in the expression of a screen that keeps repeating. It goes on without me, a universe on continuous loop.
So Stephen,
are you here or what?
I was told to keep my friends close and my vanishing points closer,
but I think we might have lost you. Probably in or on the earth,
but maybe just above it.