29 Things I Need to Write the Next Book

by Michael Bazzett


  1. Drawstring leather pouch filled with the teeth of those who have gone before me.
  2. Cabbage with a baby inside.
  3. Champagne flute filled with chilled starlight.
  4. Perfectly balanced Calder mobile – made of driftwood & seashells – serving as a scale-model of the most elegant idea I’ve ever had.
  5. Medium-sized bowl of sand, resting on a table beside a glass of water (Note: At first, the glass acts cruelly toward the sand, but after a series of heartwarming events, it comes to learn they have much in common, including ancestors).
  6. Large sealed Ziploc™ bag holding the overwhelming indifference of nature.
  7. Lizard-skin hoodie with a sweet-ass lighter left in the pocket. And a little weed. Unfortunately this bit of dried weed is merely a few leaves of common horse-thistle. The disappointment this engenders in some readers will only make the book better.
  8. A blurb from the beleaguered old woman who haunts my dreams, shaking her head sadly while she resolutely refuses to speak.
  9. 40-gallon drum of invisible ink.
  10. Diorama in a Museum of Natural History housing anatomically-correct statuettes of my extended family, wearing nothing but boiled-wool clogs.
  11. Slow-motion footage of a girl wearing too much mascara. She is mouthing “olive juice, olive juice” longingly through the window of a school bus so that I am once again duped into falling in love.
  12. The mind of a cheetah.
  13. The speed of a glacier.
  14. A small child constructed solely out of turnips.
  15. Two old hunting dogs sharing a quiet cognac together in an outdoor café.
  16. A transcript of the same two dogs discussing late-stage capitalism, punctuated by the phrase: “You can’t eat nickels.”
  17. A papier-maché facsimile of my greatest weakness, so that it can be ritually burned.
  18. A decree from the Vatican that mooning someone hard against a plate-glass window will, from this point onward, be forever known as “pressing ham.”
  19. The barely perceptible whisper of the mustache I had at thirteen, along with its epitaph.
  20. An exhaustive etymology of the word “dicker.”
  21. The journal of an actual cannibal living in the outer-ring suburbs of Jacksonville, Florida, during the ’70s.
  22. Designer sneakers constructed from the childhood dreams of hedgehogs.
  23. A treatise by Aristotle on God’s rationale for nipples on men.
  24. A house cat with subtitles.
  25. A Claymation video of how my speech patterns shift when I’m drunk.
  26. An elaborate birdcage fashioned out of the rib bones of a hundred canaries.
  27. Surreptitious photos of your grandmother totally making out with Richard Nixon.
  28. A single faded polaroid of your grandfather, also making out with Richard Nixon, but with a little more restraint, a little more dignity.
  29. Oil painting of Richard Nixon weeping, without a shred of irony, at the impossible delicacy of the dead hummingbird held in his hand, while a sasquatch peers through the window and learns about love.
Michael Bazzett is the author of three poetry collections — You Must Remember This (winner of the Lindquist & Vennum Prize), Our Lands Are Not So Different (Horsethief), and The Interrogation, (Milkweed) – as well as a forthcoming verse translation of the Mayan creation epic, The Popol Vuh (Milkweed). The recipient of a 2017 NEA Fellowship, he lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children. You can find out more at www.michaelbazzett.com.