the animal eats
the animal eats
We get so tangled

We get so tangled

Two poems that want to play, the art of making fun and a brand new game.

I like to make fun.

I move from room to room and moment to moment looking for a little laugh when I can, sniffing out my joy, finding it anywhere, everywhere, if I can pay the attention.

Tiny blind and ancient Mimsy, with her scrambled eggs for brains, making her way to the kitchen slowly and drinking water for a while.

The sun catching the small heart-shaped stained glass decal on the south facing window in the afternoon, casting rainbows onto the floor where I like to do my stretches. My stretches.

A new leaf on the rubber plant, bright red, curled tightly into itself threatening me with a good time. One of the hoyas sending a vine to the light, stretching to reach the source. Just like the rest of us.

Sometimes I get a little high and make too many pancakes, or flower crowns for dogs, terrible puns and portmanteaus, or a mess of my stones and my lovely items just so I can touch them all and put them back into whatever piles and shapes I please and place my cards among them. I like to make my little altars, scream ORGIN STORY to the tune of MORTAL KOMBAT, try out different voices, call my husband Kyle Carl, even though he hates it. (We're working it out.) It's just that I live to make fun.

It's important, I think, at least for me, taking time to make fun. I'm a real tender button, and maybe my eyes are too big or my adrenal gland too sensitive but it’s hard to not see connections everywhere always, how one bad actor begets another, how a touch of indifference over here leads to violence over there. How quickly carelessness calcifies into resentment, and harmless intentions into harm. How terribly we're capable of treating each other. I didn't mean to make this a bummer, though I don’t think I’m saying anything you don't already know: the world is hard at both ends and bloody in between.

There's a quote I've long loved but truth be told, I'm not sure I've got any of it right anymore. I've never been able to verify it, I'm not even sure where I first heard it. It presumably comes—or that’s how I remember it anyway—from Ocatavio Paz, who was one of the first poets I learned to love, not just because but not not because he was Mexican and a Communist in his youth and so was I, or trying to be anyway, and these kinds of things mattered and still do when you long to make sense of who you are and what you believe and what that might mean for what you could be, and anyway, the words are more or less this:

History is one thing. And then there's our lives.

Which I never took to mean that we live apart from history or separate from it, but rather that there is The World, and then the many worlds within it, the ones we make around and for ourselves and share, or don't, with others. I always took it to mean possibility. We are not consigned to a life of misery, not destined to despair, however unending our wars and casual cruelties, or cataclysmic the future may seem some days. The opposite of despair is possibility.

I like to live with the possibility that there's something in this room that could delight me, right now, if I pay attention. That my joy's just around the corner, waiting for me to find it. That if I cast a line into the air I'll catch myself a bit of light, that if what I want to feel today is loving and loved, I might already be both.

This is all a long way of saying I like to play. With words, with friends and other animals, with my cards and my candles and daily rituals, I like to play grown-up games with my washed up pals and also make up wonderful, stupid games, like The Lobster’s Dilemma or my favorite, Questions, or this new one I came up with this week:

Here's the thing about _________: you have to imagine it first.

(You fill in the blank with nearly anything you think you want and BAM. You just said something cool and true. Some of my personal favorites: Healing. Good love. A world without prisons. I think I might call it Imagine It First.)

So anyway, I want to give you these two excellent poems that are just so loving and gorgeously playful, because they make me laugh and feel and want to color and fuck and do my laundry, all of which I think we can agree are fun and pretty good ways to pass some time and dance with possibility.

Cartography for Beginners
by Emily Hasler
for CL

First of all, you will need to choose the correct blue
to indicate water. This should not be too watery.
You must remember: people do not like wet feet.
If there is no water to indicate, no matter,
you must still elect a blue. Let me recommend
eggshell, at a push, azure. Choose a symbol
for church/temple/mosque/synagogue. Choose
a symbol for pub. Dedicate your life
to the twin and warring gods of Precision
and Wild Abandon. People do not like
to be lost. Buy Mandelbrot's 1967 paper
on the coastline paradox, put it on the highest shelf –
but get a stepladder. Take a little licence with rivers,
especially their curves and estuaries. Add
an oxbow lake if at all possible. If the area you
are mapping has no seas/lakes/rivers/streams,
I have to question why you are bothering. You
won't get to use that lovely blue you spent so long
deciding upon. Do the Norfolk fens instead. Better
yet, East Anglia in its future state, quite utterly
submerged like a sodden Constable. Come on,
get your coat, I'll show you. You won't need your shoes.

When I Tell My Husband I Miss the Sun, He Knows
by Paige Lewis

what I really mean. He paints my name

across the floral bed sheet and ties the bottom corners
to my ankles. Then he paints another

for himself. We walk into town and play the shadow game,
saying Oh! I'm sorry for stepping on your

shadow! and Please be careful! My shadow is caught in the wheels
of your shopping cart.
It's all very polite.

Our shadows get dirty just like anyone's, so we take
them to the Laundromat—the one with

the 1996 Olympics themed pinball machine—
and watch our shadows warm

against each other. We bring the shadow game home
and (this is my favorite part) when we

stretch our shadows across the bed, we get so tangled
my husband grips his own wrist,

certain it's my wrist, and kisses it.

Okay that’s it. Go do a little fun. Just a little, at least, if you can.

Also the new Mortal Kombat is good.

the animal eats
the animal eats
a bi-weekly reading of a beloved poem or excerpt from my bedside table, accompanied by a few stray thoughts and, on occasion, work in progress.
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Kristin Lueke