An open assortment of conversation hearts
placed painstakingly upon your vanity—
were meant to flatter your inner recesses;
your superlative alcoves.
How I adore the way your doe-eyes hemorrhage
blushing-bride lacquer, how I am mesmerized
by your pretty vaginal attitudes, how not a second
goes by when I don’t think…
Spellbound, I scrub the chronic the pit-stains
from my favorite Area Man T-shirt  until
it is no longer comprehensible, grasping at its edges,
fingers saturated, blood vessels constricting, nodding
daffodils, chocking on my lyrics as I rummage for my
it was right there, next to that self-help tome I had stolen from Strand:
What On Earth Am I Here For If Not For Your Sweet Face?
I Am Afraid: On the Plight of BDD, Indifference, Projection, and the Future
I am afraid I do not have Body Dysmorphic Disorder,
otherwise known as Perceived Ugly Disorder; if I don’t,
if I inhabit the body I see reflected back to me with embedded
grids, freakish bulges, crass hollows and garish tangibles—
who the hell is the controller of this dark-lightning extravaganza
of the visible?
I am afraid you are not really listening and only pretending
to, this should be alright, but isn’t; you have your reasons,
not that they matter.
I am afraid I remind you of your vindictive ex-wife, your
withholding ex-girlfriend, your flirtatious 6th-grade teacher
with whom you have certain unresolved and irrational concerns.
I am afraid I remind you of the woman at the laundromat with
dark, frantic eyes; the one you don’t tip, then over-tip because
you are ashamed she folds your underwear.
I am afraid that what was happening on Audiencia beach in 1979
was the future I was meant to have, but Bo Derek, in what was the
Smash hit movie Ten was cast in my place.
Bo continues to saunter along Audiencia for “…about 38 hours per
streaming subscriber,”1 her braids embellished with ivory beads made
of the teeth of animals that howl and wail about her pristine features.
1 Liedtke, Michael. “Netflix users watched a billion hours last month.”
USA TODAY. 4 July 2012. Web. 15 September 2012
Any Sweater You Find On the Shelf Is Yours To Wear That Day
Communal life means everything belongs to everyone—
your brush is not your brush, your cup is not your cup,
your boyfriend is not yours, but everybody’s.
I suspected I had an identity, but there were too many personalities
and behaviors; I wasn’t sure where they ended and I began.
Did I like Jane Austin? Or did I only like her because Anna did. Did I enjoy
LSD-laced brownies? I don’t think so, but I ate them anyway and ran naked
through the Nederland woods shouting, “I’m on drugs! I’m on drugs!”
At 15, with the courage only 15-year-olds have, I left the collective for a
private attic space in Littleton featuring cable TV with infinite channels.
In exchange for rent and food, I performed suggestive dances for the landlord
and his brother, Doug.
One dust-stormy evening, there was a vague scratching at my attic door.
It was Doug.
I invited in him; whereupon, he yanked out a Saturday Night Special and shot
a hole through the gypsum.
“Well, that’s that, then” he said, and let himself out, but not before offering
to come back and patch things up.
“No need!” I said, (reeling with this new turn of events); after all,
the opening was rife with possibilities!
Perhaps I would find treasures—a 1943 Lincoln penny! A book whose title
I had forgotten! Nesting baby squirrels! An emerald ring!
Downtrodden, I saw only slag wool, and what appeared to be a wickless prayer candle.
As consolation, I immersed myself in Million-Dollar Movie, which ran the same picture
7 days a week, twice a night: Your Name set me on fire, A Silent Voice brought me to tears,
Girl without a Face arose in me a blind hysteria from which I have never recovered.
Olivia Grayson creates prose and poetry that combine pop-culture with autobiography. She recently learned she was not hallucinating, but suffering from a condition known as Positive Persistent Visual Phenomena—a neurological disorder which presents with constant optical distortions.
Her poetry has been published in journals such as Birds We Piled Loosely, BlazeVox, Bombay Gin, 4th and Sycamore, Talking Book, Requited Journal, and others. Olivia’s micro-fiction has been studied at Sarah Lawrence College as part of The Writing Institute. She teaches and writes in Brooklyn, NY.
2 thoughts on “Olivia Grayson”
thank you, wonderful Michael. You know what? I think it’s time to remove “autobiography” from my bio. While it’s true I write from experience– much it isn’t mine; rather, overhearing conversations, observing (constantly), then stringing thoughts together…
Your writing is compelling and a bit obscure to an old mind like mine. I tend not to look into references such as where your poetry has been published for example. The leaping ability of your mind is impressive. You have the talent of knowing your personal experience is universal and the strength to hope that some of the rest of us will understand. Thanks for letting us witness this courage,