Our Books, Our Books

The question is whether to quell this
profligate book writing. Everyone’s
“putting out” books. We pulp our words
before pouring them right back in.
How many times can we fold the same bone?

Dad used to fill our slack with dumb conundrums.
He said: Would you rather empty industrial
grease traps for a living or be mute forever?
We said: Mute forever because Our Books, Our Books!
We meant: We will fit Love entirely inside them.

Follow up from dad: Would you rather write books
for a living or find true love with an oceanographer?
We said: Lichen! Sponges! Immortal Sea Stars!
We meant: Our words will break away & they
will become our children.

Our friend David, whom we only call when
we don’t really have enough time to talk, says:
Are you two married yet? He is quirky-alone
in a Minneapolis tenement. He’s given up
his love affair with book writing. Quell it,
he says. We get ten years, he says. Ten years
or two cars. Either win or grow up. Give up
this body of work, he says. It cannot love.

We get sick with some Romantic affliction.
For weeks we moon around the old house:
sleeping-in, doing errands with dad, stuck
in some regressive adolescent funk.
We break into our father’s bourbon.

We say: We must burn this empty gesture
at its open mouth. We say: Well said!
We mean: This is no way to make meaning.
Our father shows up in his bathrobe,
so we pass him the bottle. Look, he says:
if Love is the sicker of two sick,
sick puppies, what choice do we have?
We must bring it home and fix it.

Karyna McGlynn is the author of I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl, winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize from Sarabande Books, as well as Scorpionica (New Michigan Press) and The 9-Day Queen Gets Lost on Her Way to the Execution (forthcoming from Willow Springs Editions). Her poems have recently appeared in The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, West Branch, and The Academy of American Poet’s Poem-A-Day. Karyna received her MFA from the University of Michigan and her PhD from the University of Houston, where she also served as the Managing Editor of Gulf Coast. Karyna is the 2015-2016 Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.