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Valerie Loveland :: Four poems


I am Back on my Bullshit



I have been testing a theory: Can I cure myself

with more of myself?


I took an internet quiz: it reveals if you are back on your bullshit

and it concluded:                   I was.

         I changed my answers            and it continued to say I was,

                      no matter what answers.                                                                                                                                                                                                           It just knew,  somehow.


Sometimes the electricity between synapses zig-zags

through one chemical and other times

through a different chemical, sometimes it is a cycle

of chemicals.


I figured out a way to be more myself

      than myself: I am the previous      me and also the next

I know which version everyone likes best

because they keep telling me.


I packed up all my stuff in cardboard boxes

and hired movers and moved everything                   out. Then I moved

            all my same stuff

 back into the same house.


How much of me is me?                                             Everyone participated in my guided tour

of a circuitous loop.
We were back at the beginning. Some said they knew how it was going to end.

I knew the ending because I wrote the ending.




I Married a Fire Man


He handed me a single match. I didn’t even have anything to strike it on.

He handed me a little box of future fire: a matchbox that rattled but all the matches still stayed
            tucked in their bed sleeping.

He gave me one of those long plastic lighter things that my mom uses to light her jars of
            scented candles.

He handed me that flint scratch wiry bunsen burner lighter where you can actually see the wire
            scrape the flint.

He gave me a sparkler. Last Independence Day we didn’t have any matches so we lit them on
            our electric stove in the house and ran outside with them and chain-lit the whole box.

He handed me a bunsen burner.

He gave me a whole gas stove with four round gas flames. It’s the most controlled fire I know. He gave me a bonfire that came with a group of people who stared at it like they can see their
            reflection in the flames.

He gave me a flame thrower. It was even heavier than I expected.

He gave me a whole house that was on fire and would not say what caused it to catch on fire.

He handed me a whole forest fire. The whole thing. He set that fire too.




I am Britney Spears’ and Justin Timberlake’s Matching Denim Outfits


Someone said the red carpet   was lava

and didn’t tell them, denim hem edges           fraying.


Did everyone laugh because the outfits matched,

or because they were denim? I calculated an algorithm of magnitude

 with matching and denim variables.


I sued journalists

who used the word “patchwork,” sent cease and desist letters

to the ones who said, “Denim Date.” 


All denim must begin as jeans and then get pulled apart: obvious

where the industrial sewing needle punched

through layers, layers,

      where thread was picked              out.


They followed the denim rule

                  of mixing washes, but

Justin’s base shirt was only denim-colored.

Everyone winced.


Couples outfits make couples

     break up, and break up

and remember the outfits were also denim and break up again.


A diamond choker is a bracelet

  for a neck

                    and a wrist is another neck

         to wear a bracelet.

A denim hat is like pants        for your head. Ignore

the fashion reporter who asks

what happens if she unbuttons

the silver button on the hat band.


The inside of the gown is another denim gown.


The underside of the choker, the bracelet, the belt

is white gold engineered with holes to amplify

                                     light through diamonds.

The back of every photograph taken of us

  is empty.






A Poem Written with a Fountain Pen I Sold then Bought Back Again


I said yes,

I am the type of person that dates my exes.

I make jumpy declarations.


He said, “I have this pen that would be perfect for you”


I have also thought this before

  then not          and now again, I think this.


I do not say I have a dopamine disorder

but everyone already knows: caught me

broadcasting my wide open heart.


I can only tell people things they don’t care about. I talk about poetry

with pen people.          I can’t stop saying things                    about pens to poetry people.


My pen went on a trip without me.                First North Dakota

to the woman who just finished law school. 

She and I have sold to each other so much

   we both use a specific pen box

to ship things back and forth.


She sold it to the man in Alabama      who calls me Mrs. Loveland,

or ma’am.

This is not the only pen he has in his possession that I regret selling.


 I want a photo of their hands

                                to see if they are actually my own hands.







Valerie Loveland is a poet and programmer living in Philadelphia. She enjoys audio poetry, video games, celebrity cats, and fountain pens. Her most recent two books are Female Animal, and Mandilble Maxilla.

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