I want to draw a shape it is
the books I love
my family I love
it is also what I reject
how do you build a new home
how do we live without loneliness

plants can die of homesickness of nostalgia

in a book I read the woman
felt fear like wings curling out her chest
like crushed lungs
she said anything is better than staying


To me this painting seems threatening
well anything noisy does

I really like her I like visiting
Only this other lady got mad
she couldn’t see the street or buildings

I think it needed to happen
Hear the ideal of it happening

It is helpful to think about the painting
in poem-language because it is not a novel
it is not a hit movie
not trying to be your friend
It is helpful to think about it as a clock
the language of streamers
of octopi it’s stupid gorgeous

Beautiful like smacked in the face
I am not sad anymore

You can tell she used her whole arm
the painting in the shoulder not the wrist
I want to say this is confidence

This painting I know by heart
It is an actual one in a real room
I am destroying it in translation

When my cousin married we looked through photo albums and diaries, and across family trees. We looked through entire books for a chin. For a baptismal dress. The diaries do not talk about feelings or faces. They talk about weather patterns. They capitalize GRIPPE and COLD. The only color is in new clothes.

On one page she wrote X-MAS CATCUS BLOOMS! Another METEOR. METEOR METEOR. I wonder if she paused. In a dark moment eating wedding quiche I thought did they know we would be reading these, is that why there are no secrets? What is lives where only skies and illness make you capitalize? Is it selfish, assuming loneliness? I wanted to ask them for marriage advice. I wanted to ask, is this crushing morning loneliness hereditary. If it is hereditary I am less alone. If it is hereditary it is a gift.

I used to carry multiple notebooks: one for dreams and drafts, one for grocery lists, one for school, one for the street. The one for the street was the most secret. It had notes for lawyers and police only. I am not a lawyer or the police, and so that notebook was how I tried to keep my friends safe. It was a vow, maybe the deepest one I’ll ever take. It told me where my body was.

Holding loss and space requires you to be present. It makes you see seasons, makes you exist afterwards. When reading I feel this too. When I fix a car I don’t. I just fix it and go.






If you have to move I recommend doing it

one thing about

moving is great because it

In my head the storm was



I’m going to pretend you didn’t die

my thinking is kind of like, books go on and on inside us
how repetition can further the body
a hoop lined with razor blades
also fire

speedy because of lists
speedy because verbs are near their subjects
hear our brains approaching

lots of times the narratives we’re trying
run for the hills when they hear
our brains approaching



She wants a perfect life with a perfect father
I want a perfect book with a perfect narrative
Neither of us can have it

Who is she
What is this book
I didn’t like it
Then I realized it was personal

The book is not written for you
You don’t have to be friends with anyone in it

a basement is built first but finished last
the foundation of the house

There is a whole world where I married him because there was no one else. We married and I had a baby, and it is our baby but mostly it’s mine, in the beginning, because of hunger.

and you are my love
and my love’s parents are dead
and we are all different planets




The house has three floors. Downstairs people got drunk too much but at least we knew where they were. At least nobody drove home they just fell asleep in the garden. Onions grow there, and there is a hutch with junk in it and a glider we sit on for pictures. Upstairs are dusty beds and places to have sex with girls. The bathroom sink is either gold powder or dusty rose, and Grandma is still alive so there is a chair in the shower and yogurt stacked in lines in the freezer. Grandma never quits worrying she’ll get fat. Mom never sat down to eat with the kids. My mom played hide and go seek here with her brother who is now dead. He drank beers and fixed a car, left with his buddy to get a hamburger and never came home.

Home has big holes in it now. I know them but can’t see the shapes. There are open circles in ink on my wrist.

home is burning
home is split in two
home has two entrances
one easy one hard
the false binary

in the courtroom feeling all
this country
why this country

darkness is holy

change all the buttons
the coat will be good as new
it’s like getting a haircut




there is a girl downstairs
she keeps yelling




I threw it down by a bush and ran
and as I ran I threw more things
things like a car
and my baby
who is not a thing

I like walking and I never wanted her
Looking back I saw she liked it
on her back in the red dust

calling up

I am not the right mother

You could draw a thick gold line
down from the sky
into her mouth

I was always glad for a girl
and still am
even though
even as we are lighter now

You can throw down by a bush
But is still your car
Still your baby

I kept throwing it down
until I forgot the first it
looked over my shoulder
and did not turn to stone



My brain is an old potholder
cupped around one small perfect cake
that tastes like learning a new language
Men in pearlescent vests serve pieces to you
and a big piece to me
which I eat with my brain unhinged

It was a long day but not a bad one
Now I have no brain at all

Thank you (and credit due) to Selah Saterstrom's teaching, Bernadette Mayer's sonnets, and Joan Mitchell's "City Landscape" (1955).

Mairead Case is a working writer in Colorado. She also is a PhD student at the University of Denver, a poetry teacher at the Denver Women's Correctional Facility, and a columnist at Bookslut. Her novel SEE YOU IN THE MORNING is newly out from featherproof. For more: