Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 5 • Spring 2003 • Featured Writer • Poetry


Michelle Tea

i can't even try to get past
a sky like this one.
like a duck or a kid in a
plastic rain jacket i move
through morning.
it sucks that everyone is up,
people should sleep more,
wake easy like a tide that carries you
to the shore of your bed,
no alarms to scare your dreams away.
once i was always awake
in the cold, damp morning,
with coffee and a greasy croissant
i thought i had to work the whole day,
i was so scared of falling into
so i sat at a computer
and then at a desk.
every day,
little snack in between.
hateful coworkers.
now i sleep til ten
but not today
today i'm part of the special club,
privy to the secrets of 8 AM
mission rain
good morning
says my curbside grocer
need anything
oh yes oh i do if only,
if only, a long thin needle
to plunge into my heart's
sore muscle oh it has just been
beating forever, pop it
like a wet balloon,
lay me back on my bed
this horrible morning
i hunt bagels like
small animals, sometimes
i feel so primitive, my teeth,
illogical hair between my legs,
claws at the tip of my fingers
oh yeah i'm an animal
that's why i liked to sniff
your head, roll you over
and jump on your back.
here i am in the wet
and rainy jungle with all
the other animals, the big sad
ocean of humanity
making us soar above bowls
of frothy coffee,
drafty tables.
sometimes i love myself so much
i shake with it, an extension
of the street's gorgeous garbage
sometimes i miss people i
don't know so much i cry
in my french fries,
my sweet sweet juice.
i am so sad today,
i am beautiful with it
really feeling my heart,
the real thing the muscular one,
not the vague poetic heart
or even the common dull ache.
a true quick burning as it
raised its strong back
like a whale in the sea and
spit steam for just a second.
and then i was just a regular body,
wet-eyed and tortured by
a brush with something beautiful.
i want to ride in this sadness
like a car that takes me deeper
into the place i live, more green
and sun, round things
like hills.
i will sit in the back
in a cool pair of shades,
flicking my ashes in an empty
can of coke, strung out,
leaning my head into
the loud, loud radio
feeling great, crying behind
my dark plastic eyes.
it's that active kind of sadness
that moves me through the outdoors
where the sun has finally arrived
but too late, the morning sky
has stained my back.
today i am learning about learning,
in a room with all these non-profit people,
stream people AIDS people
runaway homeless youth people.
i am the tree people
woodland creature people
i hold the elevator door
so it doesn't snap
on all the different people.
like holden caulfield
i want to stand here forever,
leaning on the jerking jaws.
so, do you want to know
how adults learn.
one percent is smell, that's
the animal part, picking up
the subtlest most ancient waves
like invisible strings that tug
at your brain,
my nose in your hand.
one point five percent is touch,
now that's hard to believe
the whole landscape of skin
hardly worth more than a nose.
but i've made a mistake --
one percent of learning is taste
not smell
smell is a whopping three point five percent
edged out by hearing with eleven percent
and because the eyes are the most
ambitious part of the brain,
tunneling out into the world like
watery slugs nesting in bone
humans learn eighty-five percent by sight.
if you add all this up it equals
i don't really know you at all
yet here you are
oh the drama oh the pain
oh the slow drags of the cigarette
some cigarettes let you know
they're killing you, how they
rake your throat
and leave you stinking
but some are more about
their hot and burning tip,
a slow smolder you can eat.
when humans learn through a blend
of telling and showing
they can recall sixty-five percent
three days later.
i made a friend
she went away
and already i've lost
thirty-five percent of who she was.
like the smoke on my cigarette,
into the air and gone.

Michelle Tea

Michelle Tea is the author of several memoirs, a couple anthologies, and a book of poetry. Her most recent book is the illustrated novel Rent Girl, with art by Laurenn McCubbin.

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