WOULD YOU BY SUSAN WHITMORE 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 31
34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 31
PHYLLIS VAN SLYCK
MY FATHER, THE MUSICIAN
HE DRIVES AS IF THIS WERE
THE START OF SOMETHING
THE QUIET MAN
THE GOOD CONSORT
So often this is the way
I’ve been wanting to, wanting to, wanting to
I’ve been wanting to ask you
Would you love me more if I didn’t have condoms in my purse?
Would you love me more if I didn’t despise the idea of Eve
And the virginal maternity of Mary?
Would you love me more if I didn’t yell and throw my teacup at you?
Would you love me more if my bed weren’t on the floor,
If my skirt was longer and I said I didn’t want to fuck him?
Would you love me more if I didn’t say fuck?
Does it bother you I am happy?
Would you love me more if I liked your mother,
If I reminded you of your mother, if I didn’t?
Would you love me more if I made you feel guilty?
Would you love me more if I sacrificed something for you?
Would you love me more if I said I couldn’t live without you?
Would you love me more if I didn’t fart?
Does my tattoo bother you?
Would you love me more if I agreed with you?
Would you love me more if I didn’t worship Artemis and the rutting of the she-bear?
Would you love me more if I stood up to pee?
What about respect?
Would you love me more if I had two breasts?
If I had your mother’s breasts?
Would you love me more if I liked the movie?
If I didn’t take the first section of the paper?
Would you love me more if my instep arched like Barbie’s?
If I was a baby machine?
If I bent down for you like a heifer?
Would you love me more if I curled my eyelashes and made pot roast on Sundays?
Would you love me more if I dyed my hair? If I didn’t?
If I shaved my pubic hairs, all of them?
Would you love me more if I wore one of those thong bathing suits?
If I got tinted contact lenses?
If I had incisions in my face and the skin pulled taut?
Would you love me more if the dog hadn’t pulled my tampon out of the bathroom trash and shredded it on the living room floor the night your boss came to dinner?
Does it bother you how much I talk?
Would you accuse me of starting a riot if I was quiet?
I fell in love with writing a year ago after reading Mystic Lake by Kristen Hannah.
I sat down at my computer and with absolutely no direction began telling a story. To my surprise the story began to branch out into other stories with different characters. It was as though the characters were pushing the story along.
I have written five short stories and this one is my third publication. I have two stories published online at alfiedog.com where I have been the best-selling author for May and June.
What I like in poetry, and what I strive for in writing, is an idea, feeling, moment, or image stripped down to its essence.
I like a poem that gives me a sense of closure in its final line or stanza; but even more, I like a poem that blows itself wide open at the end.
I have published four books of poetry: Your House is Floating (Liquid Light Press 2013), The Melinda Poems (Pudding House Press 2004), The Invisible Woman (Singular Speech Press 1991), and The Sacrifices (Mellen Poetry Press 1990). My work has also appeared in CrossCurrents, Dalhousie Review, Georgia Review, Georgetown Review, Glassworks, I-70 Review, Melusine, New Letters, Poet Lore, and Stone Highway, among other journals.
I’m a Californian poet, collaborator, and performance artist who walks the desert with my son JJ in search of owl pellets and rattlesnake skins.
My poetic obsession is with location–locating oneself in time and place—the power of proximity, and the efforts of exchange.
My most recent poetry collection In the Circus of You is published by Rose Metal Press. I’m the author of two other books of poetry, Becoming Judas, Red Hen Press, and Circe, Lowbrow Press. Another book of poems, The Walled Wife, is being published by Red Hen Press in 2017. I have published an e-chapbook, Studies in Monogamy, at Whale Sound.
Why do I write? To me, this is like asking someone: Why do you love? Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t realize that we are in love, and in case of writing, that love may stay dormant for years. But eventually it will awaken, capturing our imagination, penetrating our souls.
I am a college professor in the school of business at Virginia Commonwealth University, and a member of the James River Writers group.
I moved to the United States at the age of twelve and struggled with basic English grammar. I had to adjust to a new family environment, school system, social life, and no father. I was determined to overcome these hurdles and become a writer. I crave creativity, and writing gives me the chance to satiate the itch I refuse to scratch.
I have a poem titled Pine Trees published in SEEDS Literary Journal.
PHYLLIS VAN SLYCK
So here’s the thing. Sometimes when life get difficult it’s more interesting, especially if you are a literature person, to find better ways of seeing. As Marcel Proust once observed, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” My new eyes derive partly from watching someone I love struggle, but there is also, in the pieces I have written so far, a connection between literature I am reading and teaching and my life with Tom. I enjoy the way life and art meet in this way.
I’m the author of the novel Bronstine, the longest MA thesis in the history of Californian education. After decades of fear and loathing I’m rewriting it, one chapter at a time. I learned boxing with Julius Menendez who coached Muhammed Ali in the Olympics, hitch-hiked across the country and back, and served two unwilling years in the army 1968-70. I won the grand prize for fiction in the Phelan Awards twice. I teach at DeAnza College in Northern California. My first novel Bloodrock is a neo-gothic/horror rock-n-roll love story. And I’ve published another novel called Blossom River Drive.
Hillbilly Honk-Honk is one of a number of short stories that I think of myself as having written on my iPhone.
There was a stretch of time, two years or so, where it seemed our four kids couldn’t open their mouths without me thinking, Huh. I could make that into a story.
I am the author of the novels Shimmer, an IndieNext Pick from Unbridled Books, and Something Pretty, Something Beautiful from Outpost19, which The Millions called a “remarkable book… where cars are freedom, stories are everything, and home is thick with ghosts.” Additionally, I’ve published more than thirty short stories in Prairie Schooner, The Literary Review, North American Review, Best American Mystery Stories, 34thParallel Magazine, and other publications.
My stories have been published in print and online journals and anthologies, most recently Camroc Press Review, the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Cosmonauts Avenue, 100-Word Story, Boston Literary Review, and Olentangy Review. My work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology, and I am working now on a flash fiction collection. I have worked as a nonfiction author for many years with numerous publications, and live in Hove, England.
My poems are often the result of inspiration based on reading non-fiction. Currently, I’m “into” Antonio Gramsci and am writing a lot of quasi-political poems—race, class, gender, mostly. But I plan to “switch” sub-genres soon, returning to universal themes such as Love, Death, Friendship, Betrayal.
I have been published in Erbacce, CHEST, Ofi Literary Magazine, Transnational, and, now 34thParallel Magazine, and I am the author of the weblog, Ferguson and Other Poems About Race: A Chapbook (2015).
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