The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2016

All Issues
NOV 2016 Issue


It’s early in the year, early in the week, early in the day.

A man clips his fingernails on the L train.

I think about outrage at the public act of hygiene. I think, I've done worse. Done more damage than that with my thoughts.

I begin at the graveyard where the sun is low in the sky.

I put my things into the flatness where I can see them.

Here we are orange tractor someone's digging up a grave.

Like the word river spelled backwards, I fall into myself.

My histories have me in fits.

Another death by drowning dream. Another death by asphyxiation dream. Another death by public sex dream.

I dream my parents at a gas station. I fail to leave before they see me. I’m wearing a very wet bathing suit. Somehow it’s clear to everyone that I've been having sex. With lots of people. Young men with long eyelashes cross the street into the sun. I think: We're not all in this together.

Yesterday I was too stunned too sad too in a way feeling the sadness. Today I am too stunned too sad too in a way not feeling the sadness.

I participate in the whitest lock-down of collective wonder.

Seeing my fingers in the metal, I fear my fate is sealed.

I'm all those assholes.

Having things I don't want to be told to not have.

A thin rope in my back pocket, I am ready to strangle the truth out of anyone.


I try out a sentence to see whether I believe it: The labor of others is the fullness of my weekend.

I’m a dangerous receptacle with all this ego.

I have feelings of superiority. I'll make something of you if you listen closely.

I may not be strong enough to wrestle my symptoms.

I try out a sentence to see whether I believe it: You may not be strong enough to wrestle your whiteness.

When it is far too easy to apologize for a good intention gone astray.

When just saying is subordinate to shut the fuck up.

I am still unclear about pancakes and the appropriate amount to eat in one sitting.

I am still unclear about the difference between my symptoms and my privileges.

When I am tired I sit on public toilet bowls.

I have lost all my father’s text messages on the Internet.

Dear dad, I'm having sex. On the Internet.

I am privately putting things in my holes.

I am publicly calling you out.

Dear internet, my father is rubbing his cock in Lubriderm.

Everyone keeps saying husband.

I say, father.


Dear husband and our genitals,

We are ten days into the new year.

Is it too late to leave the conversation?

My lover puts the entirety of my foot into his mouth and fries leeks.

I’m waking up to paternal etymologies, solving problems on the ice.

I want to eat the buttery carrots, the shag carpet, and the long road to the house. I want to do all of this without falling asleep on everyone's face.

There's some good on the individual level but not enough courage.

Dear Courage, I’m crushed by fear of scarcity.

I keep a to do list on my phone. Go to the pine trees. Find water. Try harder.

My face is creased with all of you like a well-slept bird I want to eat. I know some to think me a heathen.

I'm beginning to think there's an imageless sleep free of your long fingers.

And I mean, nutrition.

I imagine you seeing me see myself and like the dream says the you in the dream is me.



I spend 17 dollars on two sweet potatoes, a dozen eggs, crimini mushrooms and a can of beer.

I have no plan but having nothing in the fridge feels wrong. I'm bored with my performances.

The cat-dog argument, the superiority of the drugless body, the one up, the who's your daddy, the tightrope –

When I meet a man who has read more feminist theory than me, I’m like FUCK.

A man who has read more feminist theory than me tells me I’ll have to do more than not shave my armpits if I want my work to be radical.

My heart goes out to the new year sidewalk tree massacre.

I dream a large man trying to get to my pussy. My wonder and slight disgust of his cock.

The theory that every person in one’s dream is actually the dreamer.

Sentimental men continue to scare the shit out of me.

No, I do not want to help them.

However I am a trooper for custom.

When a mans says without prompting just because I'm a guy, doesn't mean I'm an idiot I do not respond.

Suddenly I have systems.



Alex Cuff

ALEX CUFF is a public school teacher living in Brooklyn. She’s a 2016 Poets House fellow, co-founding editor of No, Dear magazine and a graduate of the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2016

All Issues