By Iris Appelquist


i want to go gray early.
i want all my lovers to,
eventually, leave me;
throwing up their hands
with giving up the ghost
of what, early on, i was –
vivacious, caring, funny, 
warm. i want the terrorists
to win against us, the 
brave new world to come
crashing. i want to win
the lottery or become 
homeless. i want, sometimes, 
to be a man. i want to 
continue to throw the

having breached the closing
cusp of youth, i predict mid-
life crisis at 42; the 
days get only shorter in 
length — earlier at the end — 
time becomes irrelevant, 
timing becomes everything. 
i want to wear a mask. 
i want the New Yorker to 
publish me. i want to have 
safe sex, never mention it
to the boyfriend. i want 
to, some day, vote 

it takes more than knowing 
better, more than keeping an open
mind, more than work; 
the requisite resources are 
vast and foreign. i want a drink 
or a sandwich named after
me; the depth of my rumored 
prowess in one thing or another.
i want sheepish to mean something
else. i want amnesia.

Your work is often defined as “dark” or “sardonic;” describe for us, please, your attitude towards life as it pertains to the way you write.

I don’t think it’s a well-adjusted person who chooses to spend a lot of time trying to communicate in the way we artists do. There’s the latent fear of being misunderstood, hence the codification of our most basic commonalities along with the most personal of personal subjects; there’s the delusions of grandeur from which a lot of us suffer, which gives us the gall it takes to make exhibition; there’s, then, the product – which often fails in one sense or another when placed under criticism…that being said, I don’t believe that my work is “dark,” and though “sardonic” has a nicer connotation, I don’t really think it’s that, either. The rigor, the monotony, the banality, the evil – these are aspects of ourselves and lives that make us (or, well, me) most feel the need to be identified as real and human and alive; the joys, the passions, the satisfactions – these are simple luxuries, like respites, like hideaways we can turn to when the proverbial ‘shit’ gets too, proverbially, ‘heavy.’

Maybe that was a loaded question; tell us your favorite color?

Oh. Well, you know when, how, sometimes at sunset when the sky is an orange or a pink or a red – it usually only happens in the warmer months – and it’s, like, the WHOLE sky is that color and you look around and everything sort of has that tint to it? As if the very AIR was that color? That’s my favorite color. And cerulean.

What are a couple lessons you learned as a child that you find yourself applying as an adult?

The only person you can really trust is yourself. And always wipe front-to-back.

To whom would you rather be giving this interview, and why?

Aw, jeeze. Jon Stewart; but, I’d really just be flirting with him, as opposed to answering questions thoughtfully. Or Terry Gross; if I’m going for exposure to a like-minded audience. But, really – Gina Kaufmann; a friend and fellow writer (though her skill and technical knowledge far surpass my own)…she asks interesting questions. WAY more interesting than these.

What would you have named your daughter, had she been a boy instead?

Her father had picked the boy name, and I the girl; he picked Eugene Rolla, family names. But, had I been able to pick the boy’s name, it probably would have been Jack (after my maternal grandfather) or Llewellyn (Welsh; “lion-like”).

We’ve heard that you are a stay-at-home mother; how is this good or bad for your writing?

Of course, I’d rather not write about being a mom; in this respect it is bad…’mom poems’ are often so ham-fisted and cliché, that it’s hard to want to try to do them, though I certainly have tried. It’s good, in that there is a lot to think about, analyze, apply…a few times, I’ve found myself apologizing to my daughter, in poems, for the way the world is.

Complain about something, big or small, that affects your everyday life

Fucking MONEY! I mean, OHMYGOD, right? SHIT! I HATE it! And then, it’s not just money, but the PRICES on everything. I’m sure this may be amusing for some who’ve obtained their education and career already, and don’t have to particularly worry about it…

Everybody likes to bitch; so now, endorse or exalt something that affects your everyday life.

Fucking CARS! I mean, OHMYGOD, right? SHIT! I LOVE ‘em! I rode the buses in Kansas City (our only method of mass-transit) for a couple years in my early 20’s; I remember waiting for the #57 to arrive at 5:30 in the morning, hung over, in the winter, and watching everyone in their cars drive by, thinking to myself ‘please, please…I don’t even need a nice one. any shitbox is better than this…’ as kind of a prayer – except I don’t really believe in the “power” of prayer. I’ve had 5 cars, including the one I drive now – all of them endearing, in their own shitbox way.

Spare us the Mom-answer, but let us in on your highest achievement to date.

Hmm, well…probably getting divorced. There is no real need to mention that there’s a lot of bad history and bad decisions tied up in the resolution of Splitting Up…but I did, anyway.

Describe your most delicious moment of Schadenfruede.

Speaking of getting divorced…! A few weeks after the argument which was fatal to my marriage, my ex wrecked his Chevy S-10 in a drunk driving accident  (no one was hurt!) – the second offense in two years, which renders him license-less for a mandatory year. But…maybe that felt like vindication…? No, no. Definitely Schadenfreude (that would be a good band name).