the animal eats
the animal eats
What the heart wants

What the heart wants

An update on my ancient dog and the trouble with being human. Also a celebration and poems about horses.

Okay first things first chuckleheads, Mimsy's still alive and it's so goddamn cool.

It's cool to wake up and see her breathing. It’s cool to walk through the door after a few hours away—maybe spent in a park in the evening with friends listening to a string quartet beneath the pleasant buzz of a billion cicadas screaming for sex before their death and lightning bugs stretched out it seems for miles along a field of clover as the sun goes softly down—and to see her curled up sweetly on the kitchen floor, comfortable, before she lifts her cloudy eyes to heaven, as if to say hello, you're here, and I tell her yes, I'm home.

I said to her the other day, I said my love, you do not have to stay forever, just as long as you like. I'll be okay. She is a dog of course and doesn’t speak English, and of course I was saying this to me, but I could tell she sensed the vibe. She'll let me know when she’s ready. I hope it's not for two more sweater seasons, but I'll take every day I get.

Even still, my brain continues to swim through fog and some days are better than others. Some days are no good at all. I'm a tender button and the world is the world that we made. We're the only animal that created credit scores. We collect weapons and love to lie.

On the other hand, we're the animal that figured out how to make flan, and see into the stars. We have so many sounds to call each other by, like ding dong and Pablo and friend. We invented poetry. (I think. I have been wrong before. I will be wrong again.) We're the animal that invented right and wrong.

One day I'll be big enough to hold it all without stumbling.

For now, at least I have Mimsy, and the sound of cello at dusk, and also very dark chocolate and strawberries, pistachios, every type of flower, a family I love that loves me, a home that holds me, and so many wonderful, interesting friends whose faces I adore. I hope to see more of them—of you!—soon and safely. I hope we all take good care of ourselves and each other as best as we can. I hope our hearts keep beating and getting softer, even as they break.

Lemmy said to break is another way to soften.
Let the soft animal love.

Okay In Other News

My friend (who I married), as you may know by now, wrote a beautiful book of essays on skateboarding, marriage, and growing older, also meaning, and benches, and art.

It's exquisite. It says things like:

"We are being asked to engage differently with ourselves and one another. This is how the future arrives, it would seem. Inside, we learn anew that we are all soft and vulnerable."


"Do you know the history of fun?"

But also:

"Some laws are stupid, others unjust, and all of them can change."

Like I said, it’s a very good book. You can pre-order it here, or even better, at your local brick and mortar book shop, which needs your love and support.

And on Tuesday, August 10, we're celebrating the book's release with a lovely little party. It will start with a reading at City Lit, our own beloved brick and mortar book shop, recently revived to our collective joy, where Jessica Anne will MC and I'll read a few poems and the author himself will share some pages before we move over to Chicago's loveliest restaurant Lula Cafe for drinks and snacks and each other.

If you’re in Chicago and if you're able and vaccinated and if it feels good and safe to you, do join us. Join us. Come. Register (free!) for the reading—space will be limited!

Oh and One More Thing

My ridiculous little horse poem I love so dearly was published in Hobart After Dark. Here, you can have it. It's all of ours now.

Okay, let's get to the poems. There’s a theme! Gold star if you spot it.

by Ada Limón

Six horses died in a tractor-trailer fire.
There. That’s the hard part. I wanted
to tell you straight away so we could
grieve together. So many sad things,
that’s just one on a long recent list
that loops and elongates in the chest,
in the diaphragm, in the alveoli. What
is it they say, heart-sick or downhearted?
I picture a heart lying down on the floor
of the torso, pulling up the blankets
over its head, thinking this pain will
go on forever (even though it won’t).
The heart is watching Lifetime movies
and wishing, and missing all the good
parts of her that she has forgotten.
The heart is so tired of beating
herself up, she wants to stop it still,
but also she wants the blood to return,
wants to bring in the thrill and wind of the ride,
the fast pull of life driving underneath her.
What the heart wants? The heart wants
her horses back.

She Had Some Horses
by Joy Harjo

She had some horses.
She had horses who were bodies of sand.
She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
She had horses who were fur and teeth.
She had horses who were clay and would break.
She had horses who were splintered red cliff.

She had some horses.

She had horses with eyes of trains.
She had horses with full, brown thighs.
She had horses who laughed too much.
She had horses who threw rocks at glass houses.
She had horses who licked razor blades.

She had some horses.

She had horses who danced in their mothers' arms.
She had horses who thought they were the sun and their
bodies shone and burned like stars.
She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet
in stalls of their own making.

She had some horses.

She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs.
She had horses who cried in their beer.
She had horses who spit at male queens who made
them afraid of themselves.
She had horses who said they weren't afraid.
She had horses who lied.
She had horses who told the truth, who were stripped
bare of their tongues.

She had some horses.

She had horses who called themselves, "horse."
She had horses who called themselves, "spirit," and kept
their voices secret and to themselves.
She had horses who had no names.
She had horses who had books of names.

She had some horses.

She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak.
She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence, who
carried knives to protect themselves from ghosts.
She had horses who waited for destruction.
She had horses who waited for resurrection.

She had some horses.

She had horses who got down on their knees for any saviour.
She had horses who thought their high price had saved them.
She had horses who tried to save her, who climbed in her
bed at night and prayed as they raped her.

She had some horses.

She had some horses she loved.
She had some horses she hated.

These were the same horses.

Love Poem: Centaur
by Donika Kelly

Nothing approaches a field like me. Hard
gallop, hard chest—hooves and mane and flicking
tail. My love: I apprehend each flower,
each winged body, saturated in a light
that burnishes. I would make a burnishing
of you, by which I mean a field in flower,
by which I mean, a breaching—my hands
making an arrow of themselves, rooting
the loosened dirt. I would make for you
the barest of sounds, wing against wing,
there, at the point of articulation. Love,
I pound the earth for you. I pound the earth.

Stay safe. Keep others safe too.

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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