poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

occasions

About this poet

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1978. She received a BFA from New York University, where she cofounded the NYC-Urbana Poetry Slam.

She is the author of several poetry collections, including How to Love the Empty Air (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018); The Year of No Mistakes (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013), winner of a Book of the Year Award from the Writers’ League of Texas; Everything Is Everything (Write Bloody Publishing, 2010); Hot Teen Slut (The Wordsmith Press, 2001); and Dear Future Boyfriend (The Wordsmith Press, 2000).

She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, including Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam (Soft Skull, 2007), which, Billy Collins writes, “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.”

Aptowicz has received an Amy Clampitt Residency and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
How to Love the Empty Air (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018)
The Year of No Mistakes (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013)
Everything Is Everything (Write Bloody Publishing, 2010)
Oh, Terrible Youth (The Wordsmith Press, 2007)
Working Class Represent (The Wordsmith Press, 2003)
Hot Teen Slut (The Wordsmith Press, 2001)
Dear Future Boyfriend (The Wordsmith Press, 2000)

Prose
Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine (Penguin, 2014)
Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam (Soft Skull, 2007)

My Mother Wants to Know if I’m Dead

ARE YOU DEAD? is the subject line of her email.
The text outlines the numerous ways she thinks
I could have died: slain by an axe-murderer, lifeless
on the side of a highway, choked to death by smoke
since I’m a city girl and likely didn’t realize you needed
to open the chimney flue before making a fire (and,
if I do happen to be alive, here’s a link to a YouTube
video on fireplace safety that I should watch). Mom
muses about the point of writing this email. If I am
already dead, which is what she suspects, I wouldn’t
be able to read it. And if I’m alive, what kind of daughter
am I not to write her own mother to let her know
that I’ve arrived at my fancy residency, safe and sound,
and then to immediately send pictures of everything,
like I promised her! If this was a crime show, she posits,
the detective might accuse her of sending this email
as a cover up for murder. How could she be the murderer,
if she wrote an email to her daughter asking if she was murdered?

her defense lawyers would argue at the trial. In fact,
now that she thinks of it, this email is the perfect alibi
for murdering me. And that is something I should
definitely keep in mind, if I don’t write her back
as soon as I have a free goddamn second to spare.

Copyright © 2018 by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz. This poem originally appeared in How to Love the Empty Air (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018). Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Copyright © 2018 by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz. This poem originally appeared in How to Love the Empty Air (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018). Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz  is the author of several poetry collections, including How to Love the Empty Air (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018).

by this poet

poem

Holding your mother’s hand
while she is dying is like trying to love
the very thing that will kill you.

Loving the thing that can kill you
is like hating your fingers
because of how they can feel.

Hating your fingers
because of how they can feel
is like hating the

poem

The figs we ate wrapped in bacon.
The gelato we consumed greedily:
coconut milk, clove, fresh pear.
How we’d dump hot espresso on it
just to watch it melt, licking our spoons
clean. The potatoes fried in duck fat,
the salt we’d suck off our fingers,
the eggs we’d watch get beaten

poem

The dog refuses to eat. I keep filling her bowl
anyway: new kibble on top of old, hoping
that it will suddenly becoming tempting.

When I write, the cat watches me from a chair.
When I look at him, he purrs loudly, leans forward
so that I might touch him. I don’t.

Now the dog refuses