Dear Ramekin: Letters to Inanimate Objects

Epistolary poems by Helen Hofling

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Issue №36

letter from minnie mouse to the orchid in her bathroom

he ate your flowers one by one
I watched it happen
the little fly devastating your petals
who am I but my brother wearing a bow
I saw the holes I owned them
here, reflected in my polka dot dress
major trapping of my gender lawlessness
is it my brother or my sweetheart underneath

letter from a leaf to a ramekin

I am flying back and forth between window and table
do I look as crazy as I feel
obviously flan is delicious
but I make the air breathable
what’s it like to be solid
what’s it like to be sold
what’s it like to be part of an identical set
I am singular on this earth
I’m fucking one-of-a-kind
crafted by nature
not the hands of men
I am newer than you
it affected me less when everyone left
use not being part of my nature, only
now there’s no one here to admire me
not one who can appreciate
my perfect form

letter from an eel to a toaster oven

toaster dear toaster I love you so much
I wish to stroke your cord
feel your electricity
is it wicked that something synthetic
makes me feel this alive?

letter from a yam to a cat toy

I exist I exist I exist
I lend sweetness
not style
vitamin A
your green plumes frighten me
so great is my desire
from the basket
I watch the cat
pace the hallways yowling
with you, clamped in his jaws
how I long for plumes
how I long for jaws
little green bird
I need evidence of being

letter from a bad mood to a picture frame

without a hint of structure
they will grow miserable and insane
rules evaporate
I blow over vast planes
skittering through time
a bramble in driftless space
no thing has more weight than any other
don’t think you can stop it
you are four sticks and a glass panel
affixed to the wall with a handful of nails
you think you delineate art
from not-art
you’re a fence for sticking in
an item on the shopping list
not scaffolding, skeleton,
not possessing of reason, or ordering principle
I know more about what you’re not

About the Author

Helen Hofling is a Baltimore-based writer and collage maker. Her work can be found in Berkeley Poetry Review, The Columbia Review, Hobart, Prelude, and elsewhere. She is a member of the PEN Prison Writing Project’s poetry committee and teaches writing at Loyola University Maryland.

About Recommended Reading and the Commuter

The Commuter publishes here every Monday, and is our home for flash and graphic narrative, and poetry. Recommended Reading is the weekly fiction magazine of Electric Literature, publishing every Wednesday morning. In addition to featuring our own recommendations of original, previously unpublished fiction, we invite established authors, indie presses, and literary magazines to recommend great work from their pages, past and present. For access to year-round submissions, join our membership program on Drip, and follow Recommended Reading on Medium to get every issue straight to your feed. Recommended Reading is supported by the Amazon Literary Partnership, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. For other links from Electric Literature, follow us, or sign up for our eNewsletter.

“The invention of anomie, a series of poems” is published here by permission of the author, Helen Hofling. Copyright © Helen Hofling 2018. All rights reserved.

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