Two Poems

Sara Mumolo

30 months, day 18: residing

In the clay-infected snow the auburn roadway's whir is more of a whine than a hum. Submitting, I sip. "Guild Mortgage Company" printed on the borrowed coffee cup. Comments online read: "tread patterns on a tire are 'noise sequenced' so that the vibrations of treads hitting the ground aren't all at the same frequency, like white noise." I enter "traffic ambience." Click play. Watch the hoarfrost through the pane. Milk, you say, pointing toward the Cascade Range.

 

While not writing

Writing is like a crouched wolverine pissing on the hood of a luxury car. About explaining advertising to a two-year-old. Not about the name Amazon. Or Uber. Not about the absurd. About explaining Oakland's tent cities to a three-year-old. About the fraud of explanation. About the mythos of reward and punishment parenting. About the heron croaking through a forest of color near a lake of light. Not about prepositions. About drinking. Not about drinking alone. About the empty bottles. About the pickers, their routes. About how the bottles make the building a good score. About skateboarding in Piedmont's rose garden. About lunches where money passes from one party to another. About the plate that costs a day's wage. About dreaming under the cracked beam about talking trucks. About cosleeping. About explaining nightmares and dreams to a four-year-old. About surrealism relenting to the world. About access. About not getting access. About documentation. Documents. About fraudulent documents. Corroborating documents. About the shared documents. About permissions. About a mother's body. About caring for others and others caring for you. About depleting desires.

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Sara Mumolo is the author of Day Counter and Mortar, both from Omnidawn. She serves as the Associate Director for the MFA in Creative Writing program at Saint Mary’s College of CA. Poems have appeared in 1913: a journal of forms, Entropy, Lana Turner, PEN Poetry Series, and Zyzzyva, among others. She has received residencies to Vermont Studio Center, Caldera Center for the Arts, and has served as a curatorial resident at Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland, CA. 
 

Day Counter offers snapshots of daily life—in the home, at work, and within the societal (often politically charged) meeting-grounds we all navigate—that contemplate the concepts of naming, distance between speaker and experience, and dissonance of reality through a vernacular directness that is underwired with formal control. Permeating the work is an awareness of a never-certain next thing, balanced in an architecture poised upon the potential premise of its own collapse.

"Day Counter is at once an obsessive daily catalog and a wild derangement of the calendar—a dialectic that ably stands in for the dementing state of early motherhood—and Mumolo reconciles these opposing forces with ease. These poems are short, disciplined, and painstaking; they’re also angry, desperate, and funny. It’s rare to find a book that refuses to remove the rage, humor, grief, or sentiment from motherhood, but Mumolo, for our sake, keeps everything in."
—Sarah Manguso, author of 300 Arguments

"It is truly marvelous what Sara Mumolo has accomplished in these lucid, harrowing, thrilling prose poems of new motherhood. With dangerous intimacy, we experience anger, humor, the reality of the body, resistance, terror, frustration, and economic despair, as well as desire and love of many different kinds. There are also many moments of eerie calm, in which the poet is able to diagnose and name larger material and political forces. The magic of this book is how this poet completely preserves the disruptive and disturbing centrifugal force of all these thoughts and feelings, without ever sentimentalizing or taming them. This book is a space of an ongoing struggle for free thought and language, willed into being out of the midst of difficult circumstances. It is the vital enactment and record of a hidden life. In other words, it is poetry."
—Matthew Zapruder, author of Why Poetry and Sun Bear

"This short book is a surprisingly full portrait of the artist as a new mother and a member of the American precariat. Mumolo shows us the ways in which motherhood is entangled with products, pressure, patriarchy, and violence. These elements combine in striking, high-speed fashion in the 'Erase/Replace' sections: 'Experience the long range accuracy, downrange power, and sleep training of the FN SCAR.' As one 'administrator' casually states, 'It must be intense to have to deal with all that.' Indeed."
—Rae Armantrout, author of Entanglements

"Mumolo takes us through poems that are tributaries of fire. Flash observations of a warehoused mother in America. Where people only meet you on behalf of their society’s nature. Where we are oppressed but well-rehearsed. Poems like these help us to lower this system’s paper sun."
—Tongo Eisen-Martin, author of Heaven Is All Goodbyes

"You may have thought there was one hole per nipple, so two total. You were wrong. Likewise, you may have used one pronoun per person. 'IyouyouIyouI' sprays milk in all directions like a fully-ambidextrous instrument of assault. It gets the work desk, the parking space, the ambivalence, the tactical cribs, the wolverine, the swaddle — and the poem — wet, wet, wet with you’re counting the days, counting the swallows, counting the cash, the rubs, the feeding device."
—Sawako Nakayasu, author of The Ants

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