A Thing Is a Hole in a Thing It Is Not

Julie Carr
And so I should make some lists. Make a list of all the things I buy in a year and how much I paid for these things. Another of everything I didn’t buy but wanted and could not afford. A third of all the things I didn’t want but could have bought with the money I have—all the things and all their bags and all the things my body made. These investments that blossom or wilt. This debt that cowers in the cards. This social and compulsive spending on instant history. This constant and propulsive trading on floors. Cobalt streak in my daughter’s hair: what price does it demand? This precise and brightening square on the wall. This easy and hopeless desire for factories. This refined and aggressive plan for tariffs. This inwardly observing mental discomfort, I should own up to its cost too. This alarming and elastic thrust toward isolation. This feeble and feral wish for protection, a protection that never can be bought. All the pains and all the pleasures—cheap ones like moistening the lips, expensive ones like raising a girl—these too should be written and priced. And on and on into a hole that swallows.

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Julie Carr is the author of six books of poetry, including 100 Notes on Violence, RAG, and Think Tank. Carr is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. With Tim Roberts she is the co-founder of Counterpath Press, Counterpath Gallery, and Counterpath Community Garden in Denver.

The title of today’s poem is from Carl Andre.

In a book rich with formal variety and lyric intensity, Carr takes up economic inequality, gendered violence, losses both personal and national, and the crisis of the body within all of these forces. Real Life is a terrifying book, but one that keeps us close as it moves through the disruptions and eruptions of the real.

“Only a poet can humble us to the gunshot ghost of the America behind its dream. Julie Carr’s resonant genius is at our ears; just look at what’s in your hands now, open it, read it. You will join me in saying, Oh Yes, you have made poetry inseparable from life, thank you for showing us the courage to keep them together. We need this poetry.”

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