Laurie Blauner ~ Five Poems

Rumors to the Contrary

Tired, I was fight­ing with myself, a duel between my good and bad inten­tions. I should have known but I could­n’t pre­dict what my oppo­nent would do next. I found myself in every direc­tion in my kitchen. Where could I run? I had an ordi­nary face, thin tor­so, long dark­ish hair. My mir­ror explained things to me. I stepped for­ward to argue that my young chil­dren didn’t need me any­more, which became whis­pers as my feet hit the floor.

Of course they still need you. Their minds haven’t fused with their bod­ies yet. She was force­ful, spit­ting from the glass.

Then why not break it off now? Make that split between us hap­pen. I was exhaust­ed by my sons.

Unreal flames began, sur­round­ing the two of us, winc­ing at the stacked and unwashed bowls and glass­es of water piled around the sink. Did either of us believe what we were say­ing? Did I trust a con­densed child­hood to cre­ate a human being? Families were so full of secrets and prob­lems which accu­mu­lat­ed in sad places, cre­at­ing anoth­er form of fic­tion and jux­ta­po­si­tion. There had to be some space between us where we could both reside.

I recalled myself lost in my own house, rooms mov­ing away from me as one son screamed or my ribcage twist­ing away as my chil­dren fought or med­i­ta­tive­ly shut­ting my eyes when some­thing broke or spilled. I noticed that we were both breath­ing in and out at the same time. Both of us could inten­tion­al­ly insert or with­draw our­selves into the lives of our sons.

I hurt all over although my life was strapped to hers bifur­ca­tion­al­ly. I was hop­ing that I wouldn’t under­stand lan­guage any longer.

I’m made of words, but I see your actions, I explained, although I didn’t need to.

Is there a god? Is it me now? We asked each other.

We agreed we’d live with one another.


Life of the Mind

My heart is self-destruc­tive but the world already knows that and adjusts accord­ing­ly. Horizons offer sim­mer­ing sun­sets or flam­ing sun­ris­es from my apart­ment win­dows. But I’m usu­al­ly at my fun­gi­ble job, a com­put­er scour­ing my face then com­mand­ing me to do some­thing or snag­ging my thoughts with tid­bits of infor­ma­tion. I’m a ghost filled with ideas. I’m grate­ful when my intel­lect sep­a­rates from my body. My body aban­dons those messy emo­tions and goes for a walk around the office, which con­tains men­tal pitfalls.

Hello, my mind greets a new bald man, his body waver­ing in nacre­ous light, his thin fin­gers click­ing on keys, his eye­glass­es reflect­ing his screen. He tilts his head briefly at me. Have you heard the rumor about Phyllis? I ask.

He man­ages a No. His face is fix­at­ed, near­ly touch­ing the computer.

She’s gone to Italy. Permanently.

He doesn’t respond. I move on, drift­ing, float­ing over the flim­sy, gray cubi­cle par­ti­tions with my phan­tom feet. My brain gig­gles as I note every­one work­ing or appear­ing to work. One woman sur­rep­ti­tious­ly and con­tin­u­ous­ly stud­ies a pho­to­graph of a man on a dat­ing service.

I whis­per, He has a pre­hen­sile tail which you can’t see in that pic­ture. I wan­der some more.

Back at my own sad desk my heart com­plains, What a shit­ty job. You should leave. My heart races. I peer at a dif­fer­ent dat­ing site and claim to like pets, beach walks, jig­saw puz­zles, and sex. Too many peo­ple respond.

My head aches, etch­es jokes, twists toward com­plex ideas, sifts through anx­ious child­hood mem­o­ries, res­cues my imag­i­na­tion from real­i­ty so that my spir­it can soar to the ocean and lay down in its elec­tron­ic water.

My ideas fly to begin­nings and ends, mak­ing the world accom­mo­date me. Currently I’m run­ning late with my work. In my thoughts I blame so many peo­ple, verb­ing them. Fear builds with­in me. But I can explain it all with my hands, my face, my heart, my words, entire­ly bypass­ing my mind.


Too Much Is Always Asked of Us

Souls peer over my winged shoul­der long­ing­ly at the ani­mals. But they aren’t mine to allot. Milling about are riotous ham­sters, a dog redun­dant with its tricks, an insis­tent cat, a kan­ga­roo with its paws in its pock­et. Lies are derived from the truth but they wear over­large, com­pli­cat­ed hats, I explain to what­ev­er com­pre­hends me. But the souls don’t care about new arti­fice and the ani­mals spend their time escap­ing from what­ev­er has held them too long.

I am try­ing to fold myself up. I take pills so my future can meet my past. I like music, even though my mouth is shrink­ing, just like the rest of me. Soon I won’t need much any­more. My thoughts wind them­selves around me and squeeze. They beg to live out­side me like pets.

My ideas declare, You know you aren’t that inter­est­ing.

But I have a job to do, I reply.

I keep going. Soon there is a prob­lem with time which is appar­ent on each body although one makes me want to hold it and anoth­er reminds me of rab­bits that can’t jump any­more. Each one makes me more myself. And each makes me miss the archival me.

Souls gaze for years at the awk­ward, bad­ly used flesh and bones, want­i­ng to be sur­prised by some­thing archi­tec­tural­ly new. Wait, wait, they say, point­ing, what about that? Nothing wants much to do with lop­sided me. I sway too eas­i­ly with my torn wings, a gri­mace, too many deci­sions. Remarks fall all around me but can’t kill me. I unveil a soul’s best moments with­out any appre­ci­a­tion from them. There’s no cure. I always have some­thing on my mind since I once glimpsed my brain a long time ago when it resem­bled a raw lit­tle animal.


There Was Once Another Person Here

I awoke on the plane, not know­ing where I was going or why. In the tur­bu­lence these are some of the things that hair can do: fold, flat­ten, curl, flare, wrap, grow help­less. So where is the sky? Clouds are limp­ing away and in my sleep’s ruin is a bit­ten sun whose face seems human and close. I don’t under­stand where vio­lence orig­i­nates. Maybe from the inven­tion of self that has already evac­u­at­ed from my body? It’s weight is impos­si­ble to car­ry. I have grown sus­pi­cious of nos­tal­gia and for­eign coun­tries and nos­tal­gia for for­eign coun­tries. Always. A baby cries from far in the back, anoth­er way for the body to shed itself and a wish against repose.

A few long-dead gods spin just out­side my win­dow as if warn­ing me about the atmos­phere and acci­dents. Someone’s food slides across tray tables to rest near the oval glass, dis­play­ing a dis­tant land­scape of trees. Too many objects hurl them­selves or sing against oth­er objects. Light and noise are unstop­pable in the swirling.

I final­ly ask the man sit­ting next to me, Where are we going?

The wind has us now, is what I think he replies.

My mind retreats to a scruffy sea­son that usu­al­ly ruf­fles up my body although I can dress for it. I don’t under­stand this inci­dent, no mat­ter what happens.

Please, I tell this man I don’t know, while watch­ing the forests grow­ing clos­er, remem­ber me. I touch his hand then cov­er my eyes briefly as if pray­ing. My eyes spring open, onto the win­dow where one of the gods looks bewil­dered by me as if some­one else should be in my seat.



Cut into parts by the scis­sor­hood I piece myself back togeth­er awk­ward­ly, angry and annoyed that my sec­tions aren’t quite puz­zling togeth­er as they should. If my arm doesn’t slide into its allot­ted slot, I con­sid­er con­nect­ing it down low­er on my tor­so. But how would that affect the way I eat, comb my hair, pet my cats?

We began scis­sor­ing our­selves when we want­ed to exam­ine and ques­tion every­thing, our lives and ideas already kept com­part­men­tal­ized in box­es with­in us. The orig­i­nal scene: a ware­house type room, an over­abun­dance of con­ver­sa­tion with its backs and forths, a horde of blondes, brunettes, red­heads, greys, pur­ples, and all else. Soon some­one brought an enor­mous scis­sor as a solu­tion. Our even­tu­al choic­es: chang­ing our­selves, then every­thing, with con­vex, beveled, straight, or ser­rat­ed blades used for sewing, hair, gar­den­ing, or med­ical procedures.

What is a scis­sor but two sharp blades attached with a screw? We asked with­out answers. Why us and not them? It was messy at first, los­ing a tuft of hair or too much blood, scoop­ing up the wrong anatom­i­cal piece. Then we built Changing Rooms so noth­ing could be mis­placed. This began the place named Scissordom. We emerged new creatures.

Are we more alike now? One of the brunettes inquired.

Maybe, but prob­a­bly not, said some­one who was still pro­fuse­ly bleeding.

Several of the recon­fig­ured began to com­pare limbs, rais­ing a hand, a foot, a knee, and then anoth­er and anoth­er. Things became a bit grab­by. Someone clutched some­one else’s shoul­der. One per­son was a pro­fes­sion­al jug­gler, toss­ing fin­gers and toes into the sur­prised air, then catch­ing them again. Each per­son was different.

There’s too much empha­sis on our bod­ies, one of the Scissored complained.

It’s only one path to the mind, I declared back then, when I was prone toward remedies.

But now I know bet­ter, how we all want­ed to love every bit of each oth­er, how we shiv­ered when it was our turn hold­ing one of the over­large scis­sors, how we want­ed to ame­lio­rate the world by trans­form­ing our­selves. If only we had known how much it would take and what would hap­pen. So many logos, slo­gans, and man­i­festos are still pro­lif­er­at­ing. Scissored, Un-scis­sored, Re-scis­sored, Ex-scis­sored, Pre-scis­sored, Post-scis­sored, Multi- scis­sored, Mis-scis­sored. Were we giv­ing our­selves away or rebuilding?

I didn’t know where I belonged any­more. I worried.

Who is this real­ly for? I ask now although I already antic­i­pate the answer. Afterwards I always arrive home to my col­lec­tion of cats that are hilar­i­ous, pret­ty, and mine, even though every time I return I am a new person.


Laurie Blauner is the author of five nov­els, nine books of poet­ry, and a cre­ative non- fic­tion book called I Was One of My Memories, which won PANK’s CNF Book Contest. A new nov­el called Out of Which Came Nothing was pub­lished by Spuyten Duyvil Press. Her lat­est poet­ry book is Come Closer which won the Library of Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander Press. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, The Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Field, Caketrain, Denver Quarterly, The Colorado Review, The Collagist, The Best Small Fictions 2016 and many oth­er magazines.