In her last post, Melis­sa Broder, author of the forth­com­ing When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Moth­er (Feb­ru­ary 6th), con­duct­ed a Jew­ish vs. Goy­ish lit­mus test” for the year in review.

In edit­ing my first book, When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Moth­er, some of the poems in the first drafts inevitably got whacked. Many of the dead poems were indeed dreck, but there are two that I can’t bear to part with. I want to see them pub­lished along with their broth­ers and sisters.

If my book was 9 ½ Weeks, then this would be the director’s cut. If it was Curb Your Enthu­si­asm, these would be the out­takes. I give them to you now:


When the New Eng­land col­lege towns get bombed
we are writ­ing papers on the French
cubist poets through fem­i­nist lenses.

We stu­dents always come at such moments
slant­wise because we have access to books
and books, plus Rital­in and Vicodin
pre­scrip­tions that make the moments
mal­leable and space and time
the muck­a­muck of debate clubs, but now
there is one lone real­i­ty
no mat­ter what Pierre Reverdy says.

Sirens and smok­ing fires, pro­fes­sors
sick and flail­ing like licorice whips.

First we think of our­selves, as we’ve
always done, and how we jab­bered on
about rev­o­lu­tion and tak­ing
down The Man. But we are The Man,
nin­ny nin­com­poops. The rev­o­lu­tion
is on us. This is how peo­ple get thrust
onto inward jour­neys they don’t want.

Still, we make vows to see all things
fresh from now on. If we make it out
we’ll show love for cal­cu­lus, pop quizzes,
red meat, the coun­try music scene,
Young Repub­li­cans, frost­ed lips,
estranged rel­a­tives, mar­ket­ing glitz,
and near-vic­to­ries in extra innings.

Sirens and smok­ing fires, stu­dent body
pres­i­dent is leav­ing his body.

Now we under­stand why men live in shacks
with cans of baked beans and skin­ny dogs.
This is what Mon­tana was built for.

This is when we ask our­selves what we did
wrong. Were we tru­cu­lent? Pugna­cious?
Bel­li­cose? Inim­i­cal? Martial?

We only com­plained about bad smells
that were our bad smells; We only got blind
drunk and schooled here; only ate the bread
and pur­chased the makes and models.

We only dis­posed of what was
dis­pos­able and then dis­posed of the rest.

Cal­i­for­nia Musts

All week your sis­ter was in town and it went like this:
you set­ting per­fect moods on too-many excursions

and her nod­ding: Good. A joint for Jimi Hen­drix
on Haight-Ash­bury, a pipe for Joni Mitchell

in Muir Woods, bong hits in the back­seat at Bak­er Beach
with Janis Joplin. She liked it the way civilians

who are not on the run always like Cal­i­for­nia,
which is to say she appre­ci­at­ed the landscape

but felt no com­pul­sion to stay. Then there was you,
3000 miles from home and still on a tear

through the woods over Sutro Heights, wor­ried she wouldn’t
see the city through your eyes, call­ing out to her

behind you: Here’s the thing about San Fran­cis­co!
One minute you’re in a mag­ic for­est and the next

you’re at a fine restau­rant. Even when your slick flats
hit the roots of a crag­gy Euca­lyp­tus and you

fell into a wet patch of flow­er­ing suc­cu­lents
you did not sim­ply lay back and watch the sky spinning

over you. There was too much there­ness there to relax.
And what after? After, the sweet bud would stop working

alto­geth­er and you’d reach out for whiskey
and Xanax, in thick spin­dles of black­out timezone,

to cal­i­brate your metronome with the West coast
where the ocean forces you to stop run­ning places

and run in place. East coast you would bub­ble up
inside, and when it hit skin you’d twitch. You’d call

your sis­ter on New Years Eve and say: I bet you’re lit,
this is the night for ama­teurs.
 You’d be lit too.

Melis­sa Broder is the author of When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Moth­er. She is the cura­tor of the Polestar Poet­ry Series and the Chief Edi­tor of La Petite Zine. She is the win­ner of the Jerome Low­ell Dejur Award and the Stark Prize for Poet­ry. Broder received her BA from Tufts Uni­ver­si­ty and is cur­rent­ly in the MFA pro­gram at the CCNY. By day, she works as a lit­er­ary pub­li­cist. Her poems have appeared in many jour­nals, includ­ing: Opi­um, Sham­poo, Con­te and The Del Sol Review. She lives in Brook­lyn. Vis­it her web­site http://​www​.melissabroder​.com/