Great Things from the Department of Transportation

Sommer Browning

My mother desires to track my location on her phone.

My mother announces that she's "latex intolerant."

My mother is horrified that the children's cartoon character Caillou is bald.

My mother to the server at a terrible restaurant: I don't want a box—I want a flamethrower.

One's mother might be the most famous person one knows.

My mother says, There is no Denny's, only Zuul.

My mother on penises and traffic cones: On occasion they're both orange, aren't they?

The young lungs of my mother fill with fine particulate matter on the streets of Clairton, PA.

My mother on the X-rated hypnotist: He was only concerned with having the hypnotized persons act sexually stupid.

One night in the 1970s, in the Mojave Desert, my mother ceases to feel apart from the world.

My mother pays my sister and me $40 each to not have birthday parties.

My mother's soulmate is not my father but her dog, Six.

The only thing I don't like about John Wick is that he never washes his hair.

My mother's father, a bipolar beer distributor, laughs at least once that I know of because it echoes through me for 40 years.

On the whole my mother likes Miranda July's novel, The First Bad Man, but could have done without the sex parts.

I listen to my mother tell my child a story as if I were my own daughter.

My mother tells me there were some skanks on America's Next Top Model.

My mother asks, Didn't someone famous say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?"

My mother prays for her children every night.

My mother prays for children every night.

I bet you never thought you'd marry, have a baby, and get divorced before you're 40, she tells me.

My mother expects great things from the Department of Transportation.

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Sommer Browning is a poet, writer, curator, and artist. Her latest book is Good Actors (Birds, LLC; 2022). She’s the author of two other collections of poetry, Backup Singers and Either Way I’m Celebrating, as well as the artist book, The Circle Book (Cuneiform Press), the joke book, You’re On My Period (Counterpath), and others. In 2017, she founded GEORGIA, an art space in her garage in Denver. She has performed all over the country, including in standup comedy clubs and in theaters with GASP, a poetry theater group. Her poetry, art writing, and visual art have appeared in Hyperallergic, Lit Hub, Bomb, jubilat, Chicago Review, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere.

At birth we are given a role—it is our name. GOOD ACTORS is a side-eyed illumination of the artist as self-help guru, oracle, and sage, but more importantly as mother, lover, and friend. Part psychological experiment, part conceptual art piece, part screenplay, GOOD ACTORS is 100% a joyful celebration of language and life. And because it is Sommer, the book is hilarious, melancholy, and existential.

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