from Malilenas
by Garrett Kalleberg

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A good notebook is the mother of the muses.

The notebook is the mother.

The writer who keeps a lover, the writer in love,
is one who cannot give up happiness
or the satisfaction of days that are really days.
And the lovers that succeed one another.


Dear N,

             I give up. I forfeit. I
in resignation forswear, I
in resignation abandon. With my signature

and initials here, here, and here I
let go, lay down, with all signs I
throw away, aside, behind me. I cast off
to the dogs, to the winds I capitulate
my capitals and castigate the lower cases

of my lower lovers and the higher lovers
and all the relative others burning
in levity and turning

in their gravity. Cursive
mothers in levity father
words in gravity good
notebook in levity


No matter how hard I tried
I couldn’t withdraw the word
from the page, the one word
I was looking for.

The word wasn’t cleared by the ink
—you saw the look on my face.
The ink identified the hand and the hand
put a hold on the book. For what it’s worth,

we’ll go over and back again and
cross these crooked lines
and uncross thricefold thrice.
No matter the one and

the one minus the capital
investment in past mistakes.
No matter my income or outcome,
all is fair. And for now, we’re even.

I see the look on your face.


                          So tell me,
what does principle cost you?
How much of the other’s share
are you willing to lose? The upside
to risk is not the side
facing you and, at the bottom,
I can see you’re not smiling.

I can hear your lips moving,
so tell me,
what does the word cost you?
Either say it’s worth the pain or
is pain, I’m asking you, tell me,

tell me what to do.
I am vested in interest and
have my own principles,
and you
who owns me

Say something.
Say what you have to say, dude, but be yourself, whatever you do
follow your heart and

your lips

your tongue.


Nothing can go out if it doesn’t come in.

Nothing good can enter in if it doesn’t leave something else.

And in a little while, just leave

by the nearest exit. I’m asking you,
in case of fire use staircase.

In case of death, go to heaven.
I’ll make a fire in your eyes—

and for that desire that burns, leave
one door open.
And one door closed.

Prepare yourself for judgement, or be closed.


With no way out and up against the wall
I’ll encrypt my keys.

Open yourself for rebuke or ready yourself for worse.

With blades, pincers, a camera for arms
or legs, I’ll
enter your body through a keyhole

or port, I will
entice your body through a keyhole
until the whole of your being is locked up.

                          I am the key
said Peter. And I am the lock
said I.


             The wind comes in
through a small hole. The word comes in
through a small hole. Through a small hole
I can hear you calling,

Come in.
The door is open.

Is the door open?
in reality.
Is someone coming in?
in reality.

No, I said, he is not
in reality.

And the wind the door the hole
grew smaller and closed
until we lost her