Dear Mr. Roth

Oh Mr. Roth—how to get old. How to come to terms with the inevitable. With our own short-sightedness. How not to feel regret? And where to find solace? In the moment, right? In the playing of each moment as if it were our last. Except that’s no way to live—though it might be a way to make art: and if you’re an artist, how to separate one from the other?

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todays lesson

today i am announcing that
never again will i red-circle a letter
thats supposed to be capitalized,
the decisive moment arriving when
kevin ramby sat at my desk
and i pointed at the word i
in his gatsby essay
and he couldnt tell me what
was wrong with it,

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Sweet Sixteen

He places his mouth over mine and releases a slow, deep exhalation into my mouth. I don’t pull back as I breathe it in. Ali and Jason are making out. I’m high, I feel like a cloud, like my head is separated from my body and for the first time this ethereal lure removes me from my mind and allows me to surrender. 

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How to Save the World

I think I know how she feels. In California there was an heiress who believed she’d die if her mansion ever was completed; the workmen kept adding crazy little rooms and windows and stairs to nowhere and were still working on it when she died.

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Shirley

The idea crept into my mind, and festered, that maybe Shirley wasn’t even a child at all, that our “daughter” was actually an underdeveloped twenty-something escaping the barbed poverty that forces people to prey upon the good intentions of others in order to survive.

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Method Acting

“So,” Tad said, “Did you see the aliens?”

Constance and Bill looked startled. As if this was the question that made the evening strange.

Although I was grateful to Tad for raising the subject, I also resented him. I should have thought of it. I placed my clog directly atop his sneakered foot and pressed down gently.

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How Good I Can Be

The cakes have cracked open and shrunk in their paper cups, letting out their final gasps of moisture while dying, still in the oven. 

“Oh, Betty,” I say into my microphone, looking at her with mock-flirtation, “you’ve outdone yourself.” Betty’s cheeks redden beneath their dusty powder coating. The audience murmurs in adoration. My timing is spectacular.

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Where Water Runs

We wrote a novel together. Leaps of imagination—gender, age—opened up points of view. Prompts took us into authentic dialogue, imagined conversations, compression and expansion of time, significant details, descriptions, revision, and research.

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SAD Season

Some of us aren’t meant to survive, even if everyone is constantly telling us how. Even if we have the blueprints for everything we’ll ever need. We just keep buying the wrong pants for our blood types.

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A Guide to Living with It

Walk among petrified cacti in Arizona. Drive through the disheveled planes of Texas where dryness has cracked the earth and made it buckle. Say, “I love him, but I think he has a drinking problem.” In the time it takes to cross Texas, resolve to ask this question, which isn’t a question.

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Chloe

We feared health inspectors. We feared someone with a clipboard and a badge coming in and asking to see the back rooms, the prep kitchen, the basement. At any time someone could shut us down because of the obvious rat infestation.

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The Procession

The tiger hadn’t reacted to the looming finger. Why not? the mother thought, disappointed. Just a snarl. Or swipe of a claw. Not to hurt the boy, of course, but because that’s what tigers did. The mother was pleased the beasts did not act like real beasts, but shouldn’t they at least have the instinct to protect themselves?

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