The last time I interviewed you you were in the midst of a nasty breakup.  You were nervous, constantly looking over your shoulder, scouting for an exit. I thought, this guy is either a crackhead or he is being hunted. I’d heard about your proclivities and I was ready for a little weirdness, but nothing prepared me for the reality. We were only together for half an hour and it seemed like days. The entire time I felt like we were on the precipice of some great violence. I mean, it was innocent enough in the beginning. You were wearing a white dress made of an unusual fabric, plastic or latex, but with the flow and flexibility of cotton. I remember thinking, I would like a dress like that but I’d be embarrassed to wear it. Your face was all scratched from an accident. Or at least that’s what you said. You’d said you’d been on a bus and there was a crash somewhere in downstate Illinois. You insisted on the term “downstate.” You mentioned a Deer tractor and a forklift and a staple gun. You also mentioned “corn people.” And I thought, Hey, I’m the interviewer. It’s not my job to fact check this motherfucker. So I let it slide. I mean, I’d just gotten out of rehab myself and I didn’t want any trouble. It may sound stupid but I was happy to have this job.

I don’t care about your problems. You think you’re not responsible because you’re an addict, because many people you’ve passed traveling your uneven highway have decided against loving you. To me you’re just like any other narcissist working for some international literary conglomerate thinking that every interview you’re assigned is secretly about you. You should just cash your paycheck and go home to your wife (who doesn’t even like you) and your 2.4 kids and pray that nobody ever does decide to pay attention to your petty bullshit because you would burn like a dry leaf under a magnifying glass.


So you have a new essay collection.


A slice of moon bleeds blue on wind-swept snow
And bares my secret in its lambent rush.
Short angled shadows stage a midnight show.
A slice of moon bleeds blue on wind-swept snow,
Exposing me beneath its crescent glow.
My best-kept secret, naked in night’s hush.
A slice of moon bleeds blue on wind-swept snow
And makes light of my secret in its rush.

A Trip to the Moon

When Neil Armstrong’s family suggested that every time we caught sight of the moon we “give Neil a wink” in remembrance, I immediately pictured Georges Melies’ moon in this famed short film – which in turn gave me the idea for compiling this list. So let’s start with that wink, shall we?


Only blue
behind a swollen orange moon
dropping western before dawn,
and stars seen from the bottom,
where teeming I lay thinking, in
a cattail field invading, standing
tall and drinking in the morning
ever filling from a very old well.
Walking through the wetland
in the distant early dew,
came a story from a great owl,
in a tree hit by lightning,
of a certain aging raven,
who would have changed the world—
if he wasn’t busy cawing,
swooping black in a fit marauding,
flying onyx to the morning,
and forgetting one and all.
And still
the mirrored morning shudders
with a sudden recognition
of the face looking in it,
as it begins to disappear,
like the thin horizon,
the body is always ending,
the orange moon is falling
in the dawn ever growing
in the mist, in the blue so near.

In the stone courtyard before the Zócalo’s Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María, three children—2 boys and a girl—take turns with an elm branch, poking a small beige dog who looks about dead. In its eye, the wetness of the doe-eye, the reflection of a coming fly. Its tongue-tip rests on the stone, leaving a dark salival mark, some small oasis of shade for the molecular things we can’t see. The girl kisses one boy on the cheek, who raises the branch and beats her between the shoulder blades with it. The dog’s flank rises just slightly, as if assuring us he or she is still breathing, with us.

Tomorrow the slant of the earth will teeter
us another day towards November

and there will be a new light that shines
down. Looking up

at me now, she is all lit from within, saying
this drawing here is of me and you, it

shows where our house is, look, can you see
us, how we are lying on the rug here right now?

Harvest Moon

By Wendy Chin-Tanner


After the midnight feeding,
breath sweet and easy with milk,
she curls into a comma,
like an embryo still in the night,
while slowly letting go,
I creep across the cool floorboards
back to the big bed.
He holds the duvet open
as chilled, pressing against
the warm bowl of his stomach,
I remember my mother’s sachets of rice
wrapped hot in clean white handkerchiefs,
how she rolled the steaming bundles
round and redolent with jasmine
over my bellyaches,
the comfort of that yielding heat,
and turning my ear to him,
I hear the faint murmur
of his resting heart,
and beyond us, faceless,
tumescent with light,
the moon is yellow as a sun
over the high swollen tide;
it burns through the window
my unclosing eyes.

October ninth, 2009, we sent
A rocket off to Luna. We meant to bomb her
Into submission? No, our good intent:
To blow up surface dust to test for ice.
On the same day the Nobel Prize Committee
Amazed the world by bestowing its amity

Award upon a tyro. A calamity,
It seemed to some — an evil precedent
Imposed upon America by committee.
They gave the Peace Prize to Barack Obama!
Many Republicans needed to ask for ice-
Water and Schnapps, or even an oxygen tent.

No one had dreamed an explosion of this extent
Could blow moondust in the face of amity
Around the House and Senate. It wasn’t nice
That those Norse should cause old pols to resent
Explosive love. It was a suicide bomber
NASA sent to ruin comity —

If not around the world, the R. N. C.
At the very least. Gaddafi in his tent
Celebrated Luna’s death. “Embalm her!”
Was his battle cry, his enmity
For global infidelity was sent
To Cocoa, Florida, well-packed in ice.

But NASA said, “It isn’t very nice
To imply we had an impact on the Committee
Rather than the moon! Our bomb was sent
Out into space. We’re not incompetent!”
Meanwhile, a wave of pure tsunamity
Engulfed the Oval Office, and Obama,

Although surprised himself, felt like the balm or
Salve of sweet salvation in a trice
Had rehabilitated amity,
Restored a modicum of comity
To the world at large to some extent,
One could sense the very aloe’s scent.

Barack Obama, the Nobel Committee,
And malcontents hope NASA finds its ice,
But what price amity amid dissent?