bonkers / tethers by Laura Kochman

[B asks, when I explain what I'm going to write about: is that really a ritual? And I'm not sure, but I think that thinking about one's repeated actions in the context of ritual is useful. For me, a ritual is a repeated action imbued with meaning.]

Every twelve hours, since November 2015, I have given my cat four pills. Every twelve hours, his heart needs medicine that regulates blood flow, musculature, heart rate, lung drainage. If you met him, you'd probably never know.

[at this moment, the alarm on my phone goes off and I stop writing to give my cat the aforementioned four pills]

Every twelve hours, I have to think about mortality. Every twelve hours, I plead with my cat, remind him that it's good for him, kiss his forehead between each pill, stroke his throat—it's spell-like.

[Vlad forgives me instantly, climbs into my lap and purrs across my wrists while I type.]

It drives me nuts, this mystery of materiality. Everyone knows Walt Whitman says we contain multitudes, and that is just bonkers. Why are we tethered to ourselves? Why is my sweet cat tethered to this malfunctioning heart? Why am I tethered to this cat? So many writers that I love are interested in the idea of expressing the inexpressible, of reaching toward that which cannot be known, and me too, me too, but what if you have to do it every twelve hours and what if it's not your philosophy but your cat?

Liquids like water and blood will fill        their small containers / take
shape / as though / bodies of water
were not bounded

When I speak

for my own small body that sleeps
on the coast of my body / it was yours

[Does a ritual need to be chosen?]

[As if I had a choice.]

Language works for me when it comes at me slanted, when it's not quite on the mark. If poetry were just the exact replica of meaning, what point would there be? To get at the inexpressible, you can't quite express it, but leave a door open. No exact match between material and immaterial. A space for the leap, for the act of believing in it.

april is the weirdest month by Laura Kochman

April is the weirdest month. I'm convinced that Philadelphia is constantly windy because it is a pathway between two rivers. My grandmother has forgotten my name, but remembers my brother-in-law. "Brother-in-law" is still a strange phrase to form. My hair blows in all directions. Another protein bar. In the mornings, I feed my cat twice before I feed myself. Following B around in books, I am learning and despairing. Another protein bar. Confession: at my desk I remove my shoes. There was a break in the rhythm of the procession of oxygen through my body this afternoon when I discovered that the office softball team is called the Tornados. An exclamatory email in the corner of my screen, my actual heart. A blessed protein bar. I made a joke about myself and regretted it. Timing targets. If I were the wind, I too would whip along the arterial streets.

by Laura Kochman

Again, past 10, but this time because we ran over to Center City after I got home from work so that I could do a poetry reading. Now I'm sitting on the couch under a blanket, eating frozen raspberries.

I think it's okay to admit right now that I'm tired, and go to sleep. These are words. They count. And if you want more, here's the first poem I read tonight, in honor of International Pet Day (the second poem, not the first).

book birthday! by Laura Kochman

Wednesday, May 20 was the official launch for The Bone and the Body, and then I went to New York to read for The Atlas Review, so what I'm saying is that I'm totally exhausted but pleased and proud, and here is the link to purchase the book, and here it is on Goodreads, and the first 20 orders come with letterpress materials (made by me!), and I will write more about this all later.

I will also take pictures of my cat dressed as a bat, so, you know, don't worry.

an interview at Grab the Lapels by Laura Kochman

And then, and sitting looking out over the Vermont River, which is frozen, and out at Wantastiquet Mountain, which is frozen. And the light hitting the snow to bounce back up at itself. It's very beautiful here.

Melanie Page at Grab the Lapels was nice enough to interview me, on how/why The Bone and the Body will be handmade, and long poems, and my cat.

When I started writing the poems in The Bone and the Body, I was just following my nose. I got saturated with that speaker and her feelings, and I researched folklore that I had only known peripherally, and I kept finding connections. That’s a thing that I love about writing, the way it spins out and back through itself.

by Laura Kochman

Getting up early to write has been hard, less so the waking up than the actual writing. I need more runway time. But the cat has been noticeably less demonstrative in his affections since I started working full-time, hardly ever climbs into my lap and stays there. Early in the morning is the best time—he's in my lap right now—so for that I'll keep trying. Photo on 8-5-14 at 7.14 AM

in thought, / in afterthought; / swimming the one world deaf, waving, goodbye for motor by Laura Kochman

I'm reading Jorie Graham for the first time, one of her first books, and even though the form of these poems (and some of the images) feel a little expected, a little like they're tapping into popular modes, I'm still enjoying it. Because sometimes a little spike of words and breakages rises up and surprises me, makes me reconsider. It feels like she's not entirely sure of her perspective yet, like even though this isn't her very first book, it still feels like it could be. I've tried to articulate this in conversation, what it means for a book to feel like a first book—not all first books feel like this, and some not-first books do. It doesn't prevent me from enjoying the book, or learning something from it, or wanting to emulate something in it, but it's a thing that's noticeable, and it makes me want to read the next book or the one after. Not fully-formed, or fully self-conscious, maybe? The more I try to describe it, the more I feel like a jerk who can't have nice things. So here's a picture of my cat:


by Laura Kochman

Last fall a friend gave me one of her orchids, in need of some TLC (its roots were scraggly, its leaves were cracking and curling, and it promptly lost a leaf when I brought it home). Not only is it currently growing a new leaf, the first growth I've seen, but it is growing THREE NEW ROOTS. I recently admitted to both my landlord and myself that I am not an outdoor gardener, so it's nice to know that I can grow something. My other tiny orchid is also growing a new leaf, because it is all about growing new leaves but never any roots or spikes, so I'm hoping it pays attention to its larger sister. OH HEY THERE ALICE GIRL--



and, gratuitously, because I caught him sleeping like this:


a series of locks and breakages by Laura Kochman

In the name of shaping things, in the name of movement and transformation, in the name of central air conditioning and mornings sandwiched between boyfriend and cat, I am leaving this open, lighted space. I'm giving my ladybug house to someone else, and paring down the long list of objects I've compiled. Our new apartment will be a small puzzle, and I do so love it when everything fits together neatly [See: my grading spreadsheets]. This past year has been the only time that I've lived alone, and I've enjoyed that sense of control, but I want a shared couch and an interlocking library. I spent a lot of time, in college, longing for a stable living space, but moving into this new space is the thing I'm longing for now. I wrote 33 pages last semester about the moment of interface between states of being, and I can feel myself approaching this point of breakage, the halting lock that opens, the lapse. One month and one half month until the chaos of boxes and sweat rises and subsides into a new sense of daily reality. The cat likes to curl up in my lap and press his forehead against something stable, so that he is entirely contained, the pressure of the other reminding him of the safe walls of his own body, I imagine. Like being tucked into bed, I imagine. The shower curtain is making the move this time, though. That thing is a beauty and it's going to live with me until it molds.

by Laura Kochman

It's been so long since my last blog post that when I started typing the address of this blog into Chrome, it didn't do that thing where it fills in the site address. It just sort of looked at me blankly, like What? I don't...get it. The boyfriend has pointed out to me that it is incredibly ironic that I was so excited about getting Internet, being able to blog whenever I wanted, and then never did again. Well! This will show him. I'll start blogging again. It is literally a new year, a new semester. I'm currently fighting the urge to write about how school is going, because school and teaching are things that I apparently give my time to instead of writing. This is a lesson I am learning. My Paul Thek project is still a thing I want to pursue (maybe a thesis?), but right now I am just trying to write. Recently, a whole bunch of my work has been published, and there are still a couple more journals where more work will appear soon, and this year my first chapbook will be published with my dream chapbook press, and yet I am having the hardest time just writing. A while back I went through a phase like this and I was told it was a sign of change, of an evolution in my writing, and eventually I got through it because obviously I have written since then, but it is never fun to be inside of this space. So I resolve to write, whatever it is that I write (including this blog).

Since we last spoke my old apartment has been torn down, turned to rubble and then wiped away and then the ground underneath dug into, the shadow of a foundation for a condo appearing. It's weird. I lived there for two years, and the space in which I did so many things no longer exists. I could stand around in the vague sense of where my bedroom was, maybe estimate my coordinates, but without the enclosure I don't know, really. I went in there right before it got torn down, because the door was open and it was dark and there was a coffee table inside that I thought about taking. We shone a flashlight around, because everything was torn out, all the potentially valuable pipes--although I can't imagine that any of those pipes hold any value--and it was really just the walls and the shitty tiles that used to break under my feet when I stepped too hard. It looked abandoned, because it was.

My grandmother's beach house is also gone now, and that is a stranger sort of hole. After Hurricane Sandy, I got pictures of the street covered in sand, my familiar landscape made strange, almost moony. It wasn't damaged as badly as other places along the shore, but the water got inside, and it wasn't worth fixing, especially because it was going to be sold anyway. So now it's sold, and, we assume, torn down to make room for somebody's dream beach house. Feeling sad about the destruction of a vacation home is a luxury, I know, but there is more than one way to have a home. The closet where I hid in my cousin's nightgown is gone, and so is the dining room where I ate my grandma's terrible macaroni. The sunroom where I laid on the couch all day and cried about Animal Cops Houston. The bedroom with the beds always full of sand. The wood-paneled staircase that felt like it led to another dimension, and the pock-marked concrete backyard where I scraped the sand off my feet and sprayed my body down with hard water.

You can find these spaces in these poems in these spaces: The Journal, Sixth Finch, Spittoon, CutBank. The cat is currently making a tiny home in a box I left out for him, the container from an unexpected and completely wonderful gift. I left it turned over on its side, with the wrapping paper crinkled out the edges invitingly, like I used to leave out new shells for my hermit crabs, hopeful. He has finally decided that the box is worth his time, and keeps turning around and shifting the paper and scratching to make the most deliberate holes and poking his little head out his new front door.