if I could write the perfect poem when I write the perfect poem will I write the perfect poem if I could will a perfect poem for Alice, Alice what have you done for me, Alice what will you think if again? Alice, your long hair, your needling eyes, your hard eyes, your lusts before readers for your readers because readers because for your readers lusts you lay long hair over what ears, for your readers brains and fears, your long hair hangs over your ears and in your fingers as you lean in to read your perfect poem. Alice, what have you done for us this time? tell us how it happened, then and this time, some shit hole light, this way of processing unknowing everything. make us giddy how you seem to know everything, your long hair everywhere, your fingers feeling for the podium, now themselves, for this moment for us. It isn’t perfect, is it. when was it, perfect, maybe, if ever, now only in remembering. my poem will not be anything but remembering, it will be anything but perfect. yet it will be here for me, this poem as she was here for us, this for Alice
In Aug 2022, The Cabin included this poem in its Writers in the Attic (WITA) anthology, which publishes literary work related to a one-word theme. This year's theme was moon; past years’ themes have included fuel, song, game, and nerve.
On Friday, November 3, 2017, renowned poet Alice Notley read poems in the Lookout Room of the Student Union Building for an event sponsored by the Boise State University MFA Program.
I attended. I took a few pictures from my seat in the front row. The next day I posted on Instagram, this picture of Alice reading from her book, Certain Magical Acts:
That weekend following her reading, I began writing a poem for Alice, this poem. Then on Sunday evening, Martin Corliss-Smith and I hosted a birthday dinner and reception for Alice, at MING Studios.
I had originally intended to give Alice this poem that evening, at MING; but it wasn’t ready yet. Later that evening, I worked on it. The next morning before going to the airport, I worked on it further.
I had an early Monday morning flight to catch, another business trip. Alice was also at the airport that morning, on her way to visit with her son in New York, before flying home to Paris. I met her at Gate 14, before she boarded her flight.
We chatted for several minutes. She spoke proudly of her son and his work as a poet. I asked if I could visit her in Paris.
And as she stood up to board her plane and we both stood up, I handed her a folded piece of paper from my suit jacket pocket with this handwritten poem hidden there within the folds & that was that we said good-bye.
That was the morning of November 8, 2017, Alice's 72nd birthday.