from the new issue of Verse (Volume 26, Numbers 1-3)
MEMOIR OF THE GRADUATE POETICS PROGRAM
I was A’s third husband within the department. I’d come to study the poems of B with C, but C wasn’t there anymore and I had no intention of fucking D, so I had a lot of time on my hands. Sometimes the other husbands and I would go for walks, but it was cold, and I had little in common with any of them, except E, who was a tennis player, not a poet. (At least E drank!) I started hanging out with F, and we quickly became lovers even though I was already married. But her poetics were going nowhere, so I soon hitched my wagon to G, whose fellowship was the envy of everyone else. But he immediately left me for H, whose father had made it in raisins, and by now I’m like, I gotta get with one of the teachers if I’m ever going to make the big reading! But it was harder than I thought; I introduced me to J but we didn’t get along despite some regard for each other’s work. I began a flirtation with K, but K made considerably less than J—“just like the real world”—so she couldn’t really support me. Finally I settled on L, for, despite the fact no one liked his poems, L had position—meaning he could fuck—and he’d gotten tenure back when you could get it by mail. But M, my advisor, advised me against it, and instead hooked me up with N, who refused to return my calls after the first fuck, so I turned to O for solace, because, let’s face it, he’d fuck almost anyone, but he was already in bed with P by the time I got to his apartment. In despair, I called Q in Thailand and he convinced me to join him—“there’s plenty to fuck,” he said, “and you only write poems when you want to”—but I was waylaid en route to the airport by R, who offered me a teaching assistantship in exchange for sex, so we fucked until the add/drop period ended. That evening I fled in my nightshirt, only to get caught in S’s headlights. We’d read together once a long time ago, so she drove me to her house and gave me some clothes, but wouldn’t let me stay the night. I called T to come pick me up and, though he said he usually didn’t get down like this, since I was in a skirt he’d fuck me for one night and pretend to not know. The next morning, I was late for coffee with U, who I found at the café busily preparing a list of everyone he’d fucked in the program. I scanned its columns for ideas. Finally I settled on V because he was seated at the next table, but all V wanted was a handjob in the car while he drove to class, after which I was on my own again. W’s seminar was about to begin, but W wasn’t a poet, so fucking him was out of the question. X’s workshop was about to let out, but chances of hooking up were slim. Finally I saw Y heading across campus, but when I caught up to her, all she would offer was a golden shower under the footbridge. I couldn’t turn it down. By now my appearance was beginning to attract attention, and I’d already run through the most plausible faculty, so imagine my surprise when I bumped into Z of all people, who was desperate for a piss. Since there were no bathrooms on campus and I was already wet, I invited him under the footbridge, where he hosed me down like a burning building. “Nice work,” Z said, zipping up. “I expect I’ll see you at the big reading.” “What does this have to do with poetry?” I asked, but Z was either hard of hearing or had learned not to notice such questions in advance. “You’re going to be late,” he said.