November Notebook, 2018


To control is to accompany.


Parable of Joan Mitchell

Blue jail, teal jail, green jail, ochre jail, aqua jail, yellow jail, mustard jail, burgundy jail, red jail, rose jail, magenta jail, platinum jail, charcoal jail, chartreuse jail, puce jail, pink jail, lilac jail, sunset jail, sail jail, soil jail, salmon jail, knotted jail, blood clot jail, burnt sienna jail, rust jail, custard jail, snail shell jail, drip jail, dell grass dew jail, rhyme jail, diagonal jail, mealworm jail, circle jail, dot jail, clear jail, chrome jail, mail jail, air jail.


In making a confession, are you asking to be judged?

What else is personal beyond autobiography?


“Obedient to anything I can construe as an order,” read the subject line above the poem.


He was splayed across the bed like a statuesque bag of fingerling potatoes.


“No need to stand on ceremony,” he said in a lie so antiquated that it needs its own genre, being a closer cousin to mythology than falsehood.


“How do you be a Jewish child in 2018?”


Dream, 11/16

The ghost of Henry James is not a human-shaped spirit, but a sound—specifically the purring of a cat on my chest. It is only Henry James’s ghost if the sound is issuing from a cat sitting on my chest. Otherwise the purring is just purring, a part of the room.


“I only wish I could write a poem as clear as the one about Clifford the big red dog.”


We say things prospectively. In order to understand them.

“I got tired of people telling me it wasn’t an opera, so I gave in and called it a meteorological reenactment.”


Lord, give me strength to butter this fire.


Parable of the Dog Trainer

A man performing an intricate dance with an Australian shepherd. Points to his left side and the dog goes there; points to his right, same. Stalking a red ball together through the grass. The man says, “Lie down, please,” and the dog does so. Their relationship is clearly built on deep mutual reverence.

But could their roles ever be reversed?


“So what I believed to be nothing to me was simply my entire life.” (Proust, The Fugitive)

Depends on your definition of “entire.”

Daniel Poppick is the author of Fear of Description (Penguin, 2019), a winner of the National Poetry Series, and The Police (Omnidawn, 2017). He lives in Brooklyn, where he works as a copywriter and co-edits the Catenary Press with Rob Schlegel and Rawaan Alkhatib.