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Somehow I don’t have the cups of the pump angled right so the milk sprays
          backward and flows down my belly
turn up the breast pump til it roars, today it sounds like the motor is saying “Sieg
          Heil,” “Sieg Heil,”
where it’s usually more like “howAREyoudoinhowAREyoudoin”

right after she’s born I throw cans and wrappers at my feet
littering my best expression of the paltry hate I feel for the world and contempt
          for the time I lack
I feel to put away what happens to me

because I can’t understand fast enough
she says ‘hotttt, hottt,’ by which I think she means coffee cup
She taps her ear to let me know she hears a car I always tap my ear and say “I
          hear it too”

My hands, one tucked into her shoulder blade
And back of head, nesting the whole with pressure belly to belly
The other compressing my breast, pushing or pulsing it

She's babbling that's like language I want to see her trying to hear the consonants
that are in the muttered braid is when you realize how much “va” is “ba”

Reagan was underrated as a an actor – he was handsome,
Had a good voice

Converge on the discursive while I feel a body against me I could never describe

Somehow I don't have the cups of the pump angled right so the milk sprays
backward and flows down my belly

When my breast gets full it feels lumpy and hot, I always try to get Tony to touch
          it and I shift uncomfortably
I want to force her to drink, anything to share myself

“Get rich or die trying”

Though ideas move through poems and letters like breezes I feel so
          unredeemably outside, unstirred
or maybe it’s inside, so deep inside this one body that the only interaction I have
with the world is where it meets the world

and what if that never happens, my fear she'll never come to language,
and the baby in the hall scooting along on her butt in response to her name,
and then the baby crying because he had to leave Habitot where I work the baby
          the baby

Should I spend $8,000 or $12,000 on a twentieth of a gram
Of crystalized carbon or in better, more ethical ways?

Consider how capitalism, work and love
Weave together in our culture

Maybe we prize the truth because it’s difficult and rare.

While hooked up to the pump I read the article
where Hannah Black says “To prove that you understand”
and “Managing wealth is much the same as managing women”
and the Knausgaard Paris Review interview
where the guy mentions a Faulkner quote, how ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth
          any number of old ladies, he asks if Karl Ove agrees,
and Karl Ove would save the cat rather than the Rembrandt from a burning
but no one, not the guy, not Karl Ove, asks how many old men ‘Ode on a Grecian
          Urn’ is worth

And how would you know you could only save one anyway
Wouldn’t you at least try to get the cat and the Rembrandt

I stop broadcasting and quickly sink
I stop existing

A book that keeps erasing itself

I wrote a lot about her shouts —
I think it was the way that what she wanted came right out of her body

People, they always say you can’t teach writing, and thus can you teach courage.
Can you be taught courage

There’s a kind of fluid, limpid prose that’s like a drug
bringing heart’s ease in, I use it to sleep, the even washing tones of it,
that we look at Sappho, poems expand, so everything is ok

But the ripple or flutter that was in works of art — endless ripples moving out —
is now in everything,
With added overlays of information —
it — this branch, box, whatever — goes through an interface and moves and spreads

I think I’m dying of anxiety but that doesn’t ever happen

I went from an external — internal struggle to an internal struggle, which felt like
a capitulation finally to fear, or a most through braiding of myself with fear,

The guys at work fixing the AC:
“It’s like blood in the body, you want it to stay inside.”
“I don’t know, sometimes you could use some new blood.”
“Ha, you want it to be bleeding?”
“Like a transfusion”

I grant you permission to submit to time’s ravages

“I would fuck Old Crow” says train-yard graffiti on a pipe

“In your smallest components you differentiate very little from the vastest Forest
Pobrecito, Pussy Strong, King Baby BKF:

It may be that a different ocean awaits us

It — this branch, box, whatever —
goes through an interface and moves and spreads
trying to make out of nothing attention or love warmer than gold

The idea of making something with threads could suggest the density or poverty
          of time or both

She misses my breast and puts her whole wet mouth on my hand
A doctor diagnoses my condition as “formless from the shoulders up”
I say “spent” instead of “spun”

Failure to live, read, or know fast enough to know what ‘this’ is, what ‘that’ is

The puffy false clouds and neon stars hung over her

I ask Jared what gives her her right to her claim of best baby
He says “Nothing, of course, she just eats, sleeps, shits, and looks cute,”
And I say “primogeniture” or, just “geniture”
Jared says something about the firstborn and the Russian czars (he’s been
And I say something, later I send him a photo of Alejandra
And ask for a picture of Nora and some info about Russian history,
I want to pay myself in the coin of your attention
Trying to feel human, which I realize (for me)
Seems to be about knowledge — which isn’t anything! —
And anyway that whole conversation never happened

Something pastoral about mornings unlocking the shop
The beautiful gray-lavender light from the side window

A part of my body that’s unintelligible, well, the whole was opaque
They were calling counts out of my pulse and as I hear them count it higher
I feel fear and push it higher we all panic together
A nurse was the one who got that I was jacking my own pulse up.
She understands and tells me and we fight together

To nurse it down, lull it down. Something to say about
How the part of living that was an art is one no longer
This one man keeps repeating “high-minded” the other says “heavy”

The Ronald Reagan state office building boasts a park
With sparse shade, reflective pavement, and backless benches
So safe no one will ever rest there

And if the present is frozen but the past and future come streaming into it
wearing inlets, cutting, is that like reading and feeling the density of the word
fjord, heavy, with a cumbersome mental shape like the state of Florida,
and thinking over and over again ‘I should google fjord’ and not,
because I don’t really want to know how anything looks, just how it feels
(again the deep inside)

The spider spent its web

I’m running out of time
I shouldn’t fuck with this little shit

Cynthia says, I keep thinking that your belly is bigger than your head

I eat crumbs out of the baby’s neck
I’m glad there are no great poems by women
I’m glad there are no great poems by Jews

I’m glad there are no great poems about motherhood
I’m glad no great poems have ever been written


Lauren Levin

LAUREN LEVIN grew up in New Orleans and lives in Oakland with her family. The Lens is forthcoming with the Little Red Leaves Textile series. She also wrote Working (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs) and Song (The Physiocrats) among other chapbooks. She co-edits The Poetic Labor Project and is a board member at Small Press Traffic.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2014

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