The Writing Disorder


New Poetry


by Gretchen Mattox

in the book marked childhood
one page has a girl’s bloody handprint

another of a house with no ingress, no egress
rudimentary coloring / negative space

still the back-dream is the loudest (trees and dolls swaddled in flame): arms crossed

the parents are adamant, terrible, ungrateful girl

rituals of purification: assertion of self

swans groom themselves in their masquerade masks
a sleepy turtle wet from the birth of the pond suns on the same rock

the swans’ necks trumpet S shapes                                                                                            wings expand

How can you still be so frightened? Critical voice.

morning mist diffuse over the pond like steam from a nourishing broth

hooray! the oracle has published nine books

deny deny as we stood on exposed tree roots — system tangled as hair, a pile of snakes phallic tentacles but more than that. It was disappointing to have you so fully embody the father. “There are trees better than this Brentwood. I will show you,” you said, but never did.

no I am not going to have sex with you tonight

My boyfriend is lame, on crutches. He has no idea how to please me sexually. It is a disaster because I do not know how to say no. He is almost like a dwarf. He touches me everywhere ignoring my genitals. Across the lawn people are doing acrobatics, jumping with bungee cords and doing ski flips. I want to join in.

at the restaurant where poet John Yau is working as a busboy

D. looks like himself from behind but when he turns around his face is slurred — careless brushstroke. He has teeth like Ancient man, Halloween teeth that chatter on their own. I call out his name. “I am D.’s brother,” says this man. We walk to my New York apartment together. He is malleable image person, a black and white photograph of movement trapped. I talk about my mother coming to visit and an inheritance I expect to receive. Lie upon lie — this game of stacking hands.

assertion of divine origin that seems to me proof

Gulls circle a swimming pool. I walk the rim of false water contained by irregular rocks, using the rocks as a balance beam — showing off. My friend knows he can’t do what I am doing so he dives into the water and makes a clown of himself. I dive in after him. There are two shadow people covered in hair or bees that watch us.

the everywhere doors

At a therapy session retreat house the people are all so strange. One man on his hands and knees acts like a dog. “Woof,” he says, “I feel so free.” Some people put on a skit. One of the characters wears a designer shirt with the tag showing. “Oh, honey that’s intentional,” she tells me. “Part of what you’re paying for is the label and I want people to see I am an original.”

for the things which partake of form

I dream I give my ex. husband and his new wife a ride to a poetry reading. The reading is boring so I leave. Next I stuff my pockets full of Jordan almonds and disappearing mints, mints like clouds. I find a manuscript on a picnic table in the woods. The poems are short and all about betrayal. His wife wants a ride home but I am tired of the two of them. “You can’t please two women at once,” I say to this man who is and is not my father.

one sphere of all things perishable

In a picture left over from childhood, a brother and sister hold hands walk into the dark cliché alone. In this painting the forest opens like a cave of light — it’s an artistic device — the dark is actual, the light leads into not away from the lie. Erstwhile, the impulse (qualified by gentleness) to recoil like sensate plants.

drawn in the mouth of essential divinity

I needed some help in the dream where I was being violated. S.O.S. A man felt me up in a dark theater and I couldn’t get out of it, so decided to enjoy it. Then the part of me that was terrified went away dissolved by the twinning like sugar in a glass of tea.

no rational explanation, blame clime

Deep in the walled city (I’m just saying) the losses mounted. Hummingbirds or were they seedlings like blood drops against the body of sky. I want my life which was different than I want to live.

Gretchen Mattox is the author of two books of poetry, "Goodnight Architecture," New Issues Press, Fall 2002 and "Buddha Box," a Green Rose Prize Winner, New Issues Press, Spring 2004. In conjunction with F.A.C.E., the French American Cultural Exchange Program, poems from her forthcoming manuscript, "The Flower Compass Sutras" were translated into French, summer 2009. She joined 12 other poets and 7 translators at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France to celebrate the project.

Gretchen is also the recipient of numerous awards including residencies at: Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship, and Yaddo. Her work has been honored as a Poetry Society of America West Winner and the Agha Shahid Ali Scholarship recipient at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

In addition to her M.A. in Creative Writing from NYU, Gretchen Mattox holds an M.A. in Psychology from Antioch and is currently at work on clinical hours towards licensure as a therapist. She lives and works in Santa Monica, California.

COMMENT        HOME       BLOG

New Poetry

Gretchen Mattox

Mike Donaldson

Lucie Winborne

David Russomano

Jesse Minkert



By accessing this site, you accept these Terms and Conditions.
Copyright © 2010-2012 ™ — All rights reserved