On Humans.

“I meet a person, and in my mind I’m saying three minutes; I give you three minutes to show me the spark.”
― Amy Hempel

I’ve never liked humans very much.  Now, animals are better.  The husband-animal, the child-animal, the mother-animal.  These animals don’t bother me so much as “people.”  People get in the way like the potted plant you forgot about for months and then tripped over when trying to reach your favorite necklace off the bureau and old dirt goes everywhere.

A year ago, I started going to therapy and I will say Judy taught me a important lesson: you don’t have to just sit there and take it from people.  “It” being, of course, the way that humans have a tendency towards boredom, rumors, gossip, mean-talking and sorrow-talking.  So, it was like finding my voice in some big inconceivable way, the first time I said NO to quite a few people.  Well, I guess I said more than NO.

My point is, that with writing, saying NO has gotten me into a lot of trouble.  The more I say it, the less I need to write.  I guess that’s glorious, but how does one write YES poems or YES stories or end up without murdering all her favorite characters just from a deeply held-in rage?

So here we are: the good stuff.  I want to do a giveaway for everyone!  The item being given away is my most recent book, Expletive Deleted.  You may read more about it here: http://anhingamagazine.blogspot.com/ and buy it if you don’t believe in giveaways and science and love.

EXCERPT-

Somewhere There Is

Heather Bell

Somewhere there is a person who looks like me,
but isn’t me.  And she is a successful beekeeper,
though very sad.  She is not married.  She drives

to a tattoo parlor and cries in the back room
and leaves without getting the tattoo she has
wanted for years – three leaves at her hip and

someone’s initials.  She feels transformed when
she stands under the wasp nest in her backyard.

She photographs herself at the water line.
There is a clump of weeds in her hair.  Everything
is scented with polio and old China dinner
plates.  Somewhere, this woman with red hair

and a human head is wearing a man’s
overcoat.  It is high tide somewhere in the world,
she thinks, where you could just wash
away.  Somewhere, there is a woman who

looks nothing like me, but she
arranges buttons like artifacts at her window

just as I do, on the off chance that I
have a sudden hole that needs closing
or a sudden rip or tear
in the universe.

In order to win, you just have to subscribe to the blog and repost on your Facebook (or any website you use most often).  Send me a link to the repost/blog/whatever in your comment and I will throw your hat into a large ostentatious hat and wave a magic wand and you will perhaps win a free book.  SO EASY.  In your comment, I would also appreciate it if you wrote any writing ideas that you would like to see me talk about (publishing, networking, submitting, etc.)   You can read more about all of the things I do here – and yes it needs to be updated, oops!-  http://hrbell.wordpress.com/ ).  The end  date of this giveaway is TBA.

If you already own my book and wish to demand something else, let me know!  Demands are interesting and frightening.  I will wear sunglasses while I read your comments.  I will drink lemon coriander beer.  I will judge you, knowing full well that you are better than I could ever be.  I will know about your saddest moment and your mother’s addictions.  I will soak a leaf in melted copper and divine your future from the drips.  Mostly, I will drink that beer.

SO I would really appreciate it everyone participates!  Feel free to tell your friends/family/cat!  As long as they can type, they can enter!

Because I don’t like humans and neither do you.

“Boring damned people. All over the earth. Propagating more boring damned people. What a horror show. The earth swarmed with them.” 
― Charles Bukowski

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On Beauty.

“I am this space my body believes in.”
― Yusef Komunyakaa

The other afternoon I decided to go to the hardware store to buy a gallon of paint, color New Hope Gray.  I had been told this was the correct color of my house by the previous owners, but it was, alas, incorrect.  I ended up with some variation of a platinum gray, but that’s not really the point.

The point was the original thought: New Hope Gray.

It got me thinking of beauty.

And I went for a walk behind my house.  And there was warmth and sun and still I did not write a poem.

However, I thought of this:

“To raise the veil.
To see what you’re saying goodbye to.”
― Louise Glück

Because I frequently think of the name Louise when I look at the water.  I suppose I should explain myself because you might be thinking puddle and it’s never like that when your heart is real and big.  This is my Louise:


Okay, my thoughts today were to write a poem (I didn’t) or a short story-something (nope, also did not) but maybe I smoked a cigar down by the pond and wore a big hat.

And thoughts: A reflection in a large body of water is different than a reflection in a mirror.  It’s almost like you’re seeing what you would look like dead and gone and floating at the bottom of something.  Sometimes when you see yourself that way, it’s exactly where you want to be and other times, it’s just embarrassing and terrifying.

So here’s what you do, write something about your reflection.  You get a keyboard or pencil or blood and then you put all that away because you’re like me, kind of lazy, sometimes busy, mostly afraid.  But late tonight, you walk by your living room’s window and you see yourself out of the corner of your eyeball, like people see ghosts.  And you go.  You write.

I will if you will.


On Birth.

It had started to worry me that if I wasn’t careful my meekness could become a habit, a tic, something hardwired that my mannerisms would continue to express throughout my life regardless of my efforts – the way a drunk who, though in the wagon, still staggers and slurs like a drunk.” — Lorrie Moore

And it was then, seven months pregnant, writing poems about never writing again, that I decided to do something about it.  You see, I had been a poet for years, because poetry is the big gorgeous hairdo we all wear to detract from the stain on our dress.  And it is here that I hope to no longer be meek. I hope to take a snippet of those writers, authors, poets, whatever-you-want-to-call-yourselves and insert you into every part of my life.

Here, I will say that I wish to begin with the last poem I wrote in seriousness, the seven months pregnant poem, the last poem I figured I would ever write:

What Do I Teach My Daughter About Poetry?

by Heather Bell

That it was violent?  That it was a noose?  That at seven
months pregnant with her, I had given it up because I was
so terrified of that change in the wind that always comes

with a new poem?  Perhaps that poetry is a river
or air or that if you count through the rumbling

it will get further and further away (but always
returning when you wish to just put your feet down

for once, on the beach).  And it is then that I

start nesting, as they say: pans must be organized,
no bleach on the bottom shelves, and all books of poetry

locked up.  The final step: to know I will never speak

of my years as a poet, because those words were so
dangerous, it seems now.  That it is enough to see her

child’s mouth open for the first time in June,
hear nothing come out, as it is with such a surprisingly

sharp intake of air, so sudden and shocking.

And then the wail.

I have a few photographs I would like to show you.  I have a few recipes.  I have a chunk of time spent in college, in publishing, at the hospital, and mostly, I have years of telling people I was anything other than what I was.  Perhaps the secret to all of this isn’t that everything is related to writing in some grand and beautiful way, it’s that everything is related to something else more beautiful, even the really bad stuff.

So suck it up, rip off your wig, and here we go.