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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)

Rabbit Hole

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 pillowcase
because it smells like her hair.

Hating the pillowcase
is like hating the bed.

Hating the bed
is like hating things
that want to hold you
even as you sob into them.

Hating the things that want to hold you
is like sobering to the fact she will
never hold you again.

Sobering to the fact
she will never hold you again.
is like trying to keep loving
the things you know you can’t have.

Loving the things
you know you can’t have
is like saying Goodbye
and knowing you have to mean it.

Once a fortune cookie told me
that saying Goodbye is just a different
way of saying Hello.

Once I remembered reading
how Aloha is a word meaning
both hello and goodbye.

Once I remembered reading
how Aloha is also a word
which means peace.

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 Write Bloody Publishing.

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 Write Bloody Publishing.

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

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

She apologizes. It’s not like her. She’s usually up by six.
But it’s the weekend, you tell her, there is no need to rush!

The plan for the day is breakfast somewhere and walking
somewhere else. I’m happy, but Mom can’t believe that

she forgot to bring conditioner,

poem

Turns out things aren’t going that well.
Turns out you wake up and you’re thirty,
and the clothes you are wearing aren’t ironic
anymore. They are the clothes you wear.

One day you wake up, and look in your closet
and realize it is every terrible thing your mother
ever said to you, all