It’s hard to convince yourself that Gertrude Stein matters when there are people od’ing next to the trashcan at Circle K

I still want to teach them how to fuck the patriarchy, thwart the rules, collapse the relationship between the signifier and the thing that’s being signified, but there’s a guy slumped next to the water machine on the corner, behind the Starbuck’s dumpster picking through cake pop sticks and sticking himself with needles. I’m tired of typing the same comments—where’s the subversive syntax, where’s the playfulness in a cushion? Why does everyone think the laptop is an object worthy of a poem? I want to minister without Jesus. I want to hand out blankets in the name of humanity rather than a God that forsakes us. Prayers are just another way of rerouting the neural pathways. Repeat anything ten times and you’ll start to like the sound of it. A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. Repeat it for a week and you might start to like yourself. That’s the alchemy of language, not belief. And ironically, Stein taught me that.

RD, her favorite vintage typewriter, and Bisbee, the kitty of her life.

Rosemarie Dombrowski (RD) is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founding editor of rinky dink press, and the founding director of Revisionary Arts, a nonprofit that facilitates therapeutic poetry workshops. She’s published three collections of poetry including The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition. She teaches courses on medical poetry, the poetry of witness, and radical print culture at Arizona State University. Additionally, she’s the founding editor of ISSUED, a journal for and about veterans at ASU, and the faculty editor of Grey Matter, the medical poetry journal of the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.