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The Weigh-In



From issue 43, The Games People Play

The Weigh-In

In retrospect my legs were long,
two strong cylinders that pushed me 

up the stadium steps, my body bound 
with plastic wrap, the time running down.  

I liked to be under direction and duress, 
the stress of the short tick of the clock,

the predawn speed sessions 
and my name in the megaphone

as my coach watched me master the fast stroke.  
Nope, he said. Nope. In Augusta, Georgia 

I was twenty-two, nude on the weigh-in scale, 
drunk with dehydration. We used spit cups 

and suppositories, compared finish times 
and muscle size, trained inside the humid tongue 

of the South. My stomach was as flat 
as the oar, resting on the water after winning 

the race. I have a different body now.
I’m still desperate and public. I move at a fast pace.


Kirsten Andersen’s poems have appeared in Tin House, Alaska Quarterly Review, Court Green, and elsewhere. A recent finalist for the National Poetry Series, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

This is precisely how I was when I rowed crew except I ate a lot of chicken fingers freshman year, smoked weed, and always felt uncomfortable wearing those crew outfits that showed off your junk. That rowing in Georgia in spring thing, though, was a real bitch.

What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away.
And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived.
People can stand what is true,
for they are already enduring it.

Eugene Gendlin, by way of Dave Berman

I’ve been thinking off and on for a while about objective ontology (flat ontology, post-Kantian ancestral ontology), that is, the serious undertaking of thinking about things as apart from humans. Which, since you’re probably human, is really hard to think about. Since, it seems like the way humans interact with ideas is by the medium of thought.

Reducing the self to a body - just an object - is always a strategy, one that’s usually fraught with danger since it sort of implies that you’re in a bad way, under duress, out of control. (Consider all the bullshit ultrasound laws from last year.)

I liked coming across the poem above because it puts reducing yourself to an object in a slightly more empowered light. To be sure, it does not read like a happy poem. (To me.) But that just is, I think, because of the overwhelming intellectual tradition of considering the mind and body to be separate, and therefore to consider the world as always changing, being re-constituted by the mind in whatever way. I like how the poem above seems to say that you may think that’s true, but it is not.

It’s sort of interesting that Wittgenstein’s “The world is all that is the case” is taken (by Karl Popper, at least) to be a re-citation or affirmation of Heraclitean flux, yet by reversing the terms “the case” and “world”, it becomes the opposite. Which is weird. We were told that identity ignores order.

It’s as if “the case”-ness’s being a fact, if we’re being very very honest, means that it is not discursive, not in flux, and that language does not lie. A funny assertion for a poet to make.

In which I shamefacedly ask my fake internet friends for help

So this guy whose work literally blows me away (I think I’ve fallen outta three chairs reading his book) and has received a knob-slobberingly positive review in the literal New York Times needs economic help. That’s that shit I don’t like. Something in life does not compute. Because I formerly thought Michael Robbins’s life was, unlike mine, not besieged by bill collectors and low wages and a thick-n-earthy patina of unhappiness. But it’s not. So try to help out?


I bought a car—I needed one, I was living in Mississippi, & assumed I’d continue to do so. Then I did not have the job. So money I owe on the car, or she is repossessed. And there are other bills. Bills, student loans, Christ. I am in a serious financial crisis, like the one you have read about, except on a tiny poet scale. Plus it has nothing to do with mortgage-backed securities, as far as I know.

I’ve been trying to sell the car for months, for less than I owe. It’s not a sellers’ market. No one’s even made an offer.

I’m hoping to raise $12,000, which is the bulk of what I owe on the car, by asking you to look into what passes for hearts these days. Love.

Yeah, I know. Bestselling Penguin poet, waaaaaahh. But believe me when I say I’m not making any bank off the book. I’m teaching four classes as an adjunct, & believe me when I say that is not a high-paying gig, either. I have no insurance, & my cat has been sick, so I’ve had astronomical vet bills. (I love my cat very, very much.)

There are people with real problems who deserve yr help more than I do. But I’m asking for it because I don’t know what else to do. If you can, please donate something by clicking on the PayPal button over there on the left. I accept any amount of money, from $1 to $infinity.

Anyone who donates over $100 gets a signed copy of Alien vs. Predator with a little doodle of, I don’t know, probably a jellyfish dog is the only thing I know how to draw. Just leave an address in my “don’t ask me anything” box.

You know, I’m as embarrassed about this as you are. Thank you.

How to Read Ezra Pound


At the poets’ panel,
after an hour of poets debating Ezra Pound,
Abe the Lincoln veteran,
the Spanish Civil War,
raised his hand and said:
If I knew that
a fascist
was a great poet,
I’d shoot him

-Martín Espada, from The Trouble Ball

I’d shoot him / anyway.