Recent Work By Mindy Nettifee

It is truly something, after all these years,
how it never fails to catch me by surprise, at least a little,
despite the week of warning signs,
the swollen sore breasts sulking in the cage of an underwire,
the awesome overreaction parade.

How it casts the previous three days in a radical new light—
explaining the asshole on Friday who spoke four decibels too loud
and wore his ego like a unitard of burrs;
why I struggled not to cry when that text message took that tone with me;
why I drank way too much at the Neil Diamond impersonator concert
and kissed that girl full on the flower;
why I ate shit biking home the next day;
why I lay on the couch for hours and hours watching movie previews
and eating chocolate popsicles and feeling sorry for myself;
why I grew forests wanting you to come back.

Slightly dazed at the small rosy sunset of evidence,
I tilt my head to the side and relive it all,
letting the humiliation do its humble work.

I am suddenly not unraveling, sweetwonderfuljesus.
I am not a crazy person, trapped in a spiraling universe
of increasingly implacable darkness and despair.
I am not losing it at all,
or I am, but in the most familiar unchangeable way.
It’s just the goodbye party I am never invited to but always throwing.
Just the unwinding of the world’s oldest clock,
the one that will wake me up two weeks from now
in the dark first hours of the morning
with its soft insistent ticking.

What’s wrong with you?

Wow.  Interesting starter question.  A little hostile.  First thing that comes to mind–vanity.  But a dishonest kind of vanity, a disowned vanity.   Checking my reflection in store windows but then making sure no one was watching vanity.  Making fun of women who get plastic surgery vanity.  I’m pretty ashamed of it.

So growing old will be painful for you?

Yeah, probably.

Why don’t you get a real job?

Wow.  Have you eaten today?  Poetry is a real job.  I teach and perform and write and–fine.  Why no “real job”?  Fluorescent lighting.  And authority.  And some other aversions.  Mostly I’m just trying to be happy.  If I thought a steady paycheck would make me happy, I would hunt it down and tame it.  It would be my bitch.

Interesting, Mindy.  Did you mean to fix your hair that way?

Move on.

Ok.  Describe your favorite kind of morning.

Foggy with the promise of afternoon sun.  Cold clean kitchen tile.  Bare feet.  Fresh coffee.  Vince Guaraldi’s Cast Your Fate To The Wind on the stereo.  Comfortable underwear.   Rallying myself awake for whatever I have to do.  And then suddenly having all my plans get cancelled on me.

So if this were one of those personality tests, how would you get around the wall—climbing over it?  Walking around it?  Exploding it?


Your new book just out on Write Bloody is called Rise of the Trust Fall.  Were you forced to go to a lot of church camps when you were growing up?


Who are some of your heroes?

Vaclav Havel.  The playwright/poet-turned-Czech President.  I would learn to brew beer for that guy. I want him to teach me how to be confrontational with so much style and grace and intelligence.  Also Hillary Clinton.  For taking one for Team Vagina about ten thousand times and still coming out smiling.  She makes me want to be a better woman.

That’s so sweet.  Are you trying to reveal something about your presidential political aspirations?

I took measures when I was younger, photographic measures, to prevent any kind of political career from ever blossoming.

I heard you worked at a sex shop for a few years after college.  Was there anything at the store that freaked you out, or was it all like, “dong this, dong that,” whatever?

Yeah.  Sex toy retail will really desensitize you.  In several important ways.  But there were two things at the store that creeped me out:  a set of Afrocentric Productions playing cards that were all cum-shots-on-the-face.  All the women in the photos were squinting or wincing, you know?  To keep the jizz out of their eyes.  It was traumatizing.  And then there were this pocket pussies shaped like tiny bound women.

Wow.  I can see how that would rub you the wrong way.  So to –

I get the pun.

Okay.  Final question: If you could give aspiring writers any tips on becoming better writers, what would they be?

First, read everything.  When you find something that makes you feel, that makes you want to quit writing you love it so much, read it over and over and over.  Try to absorb what makes it work, what makes it so good.  Try to reverse-osmosis it into your own writing. Second, whenever possible, find a community of poets you can be a part of. Weird, free, fun, strange poets.  Poets who take risks and aren’t always nice, but are passionate and eccentric and smart.  Work really hard at impressing them.  Third, fix that self-confidence thing as quickly as possible, and as often as possible;  it’s probably what’s holding you back.