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Nicole Homer
2018 Dartmouth Poet in Residence

2018 Dartmouth Poet in Residence Nicole Homer

Meet Nicole Homer

Nicole Homer’s first full-length collection of poems, Pecking Order, published by Write Bloody Press was a finalist for the 2018 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Muzzle, The Offing, Winter Tangerine, Rattle, The Collagist and elsewhere. A The Watering Hole graduate fellow and Callaloo fellow, Nicole serves as an Editor and regular contributor at BlackNerdProblems, writing critique of media and pop culture, and as faculty at the Pink Door Writing Retreat for Women and Gender Non-conforming Writers of Color. She is a full-time faculty member at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, with an MFA from Rutgers-Newark. She can be found online at nicolehomer.com or @realnicolehomer on Twitter and other social media things.

On Being Named the 2018 Dartmouth Poet in Residence

“It is inspiring to be invited to spend time in the Frost residence. That my work will be punctuated by events and readings at Frost place and at Dartmouth is humbling and invigorating. This opportunity provides me with an undisturbed block of time to work and to catalog my landscapes, internal and external. It is with great anticipation, gratitude, and a sense of responsibility that I accept this position.”

Plans for the Residency

“On the generative side, I’m writing about the body. My inquiries start with the following questions and expand outward: How do do I explain my body? And to whom do I owe or offer such explanations?  This series of poems seeks to explore the identities that are projected on to my body, and the bodies of those like mine, and to ask what, if anything, is actually true about those bodies and identities.

On the regenerative side, I’m looking forward to (re)reading and deeply loving, via annotation, several books of poetry, essays, and craft.” 

Two Poems by Nicole Homer

  • Wonder Woman Underoos

     

    Next to the red and blue heat of the stove, the white
    woman’s face is stretched across my ass. Her straight
    teeth snug against each handful of me. Her smile,

    slightly distorted but still iconic, looks out into the dining room
    at herself. There, three more of her, three more
    of me: one holds up her bracelets. Sharp flash of ricochet,

    another wild thing almost tamed by a woman flaunting
    a docility gifted to her. How shiny it is. The bullet
    and the bracelets and on the next small body, a tiara.

    There is nothing that was not once alive
    in the kitchen. I am here because what wouldn’t I kill
    to call myself mother? In the other room, their perfect need.

    What a beautiful weapon atop that woman. The last body:
    a lasso turning above her head. She will make us tell
    the truth. I do not like the children

    asking me for food. I am tired of the open,
    loud mouths of these choices. I want to be an indestructible
    white woman, a weaponized smile. How do you fix your mouth

    to ask for more? This is how they conquer:
    by overwhelming. They swarm the table and chair
    and crawl and climb and laugh and spill and

    they wait for me to make them breakfast, so I break
    egg after egg after egg. How else can you feed your young
    without the currency of someone else’s? We are the same

    every morning. They say: Mommy I want
    you to wear there is an inexhaustible list of heroes
    they ask me to imitate. This is how I parent:

    in a skin I didn’t choose. But didn’t I
    buy them all these white women’s smiles
    and heroes? And who has not wanted to wear someone

    else’s pelt? In the evenings, I throw the used white women
    into a pile in the corner. Some days, I lie to the children
    say that I am wearing what they have chosen. When I am not

    their mother, I still choose the familiar heroes. I want to be
    someone else: a woman whose young is not open-mouthed,
    waiting to be rescued. I am so tired. Some days

    I just want to dress myself. But I don’t
    know what else a woman would wear
    if not her children’s want for someone better.

     

    First appeared in Rattle Spring 2018.

  • It Snowed the Other Day and My Father Died

     

    I closed the door because I was loud and my father was sleeping. My mother was in the kitchen or in the dining room putting food into what I know now was a china cabinet. Then, I thought everyone had a pantry where the grits cowered on a shelf behind closed doors while above the grey roses of my parents’ china sat behind glass that we were to never touch. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten off of the rosed dishes. That is not what cut flowers are for.

    We were supposed to go out, my mother and I. Or I was supposed to do homework. Or she was on the phone with my grandma, the spiraled cord stretching across the kitchen from the wall near the hallway to her body at the sink. She was not doing dishes; I was girl and it was my job.

    My brothers were not home. Or her youngest son was not home and her oldest son was in his room doing what 16 year old boys in 24 year old bodies do: masturbate? Plan their secret celebration of turning 17 in five days? Hate their families (less then than he would in a week or a month)?

    I don’t know why, but I always think of video games when I think of that day. I don’t know if I was playing one. Or heard my brother playing one. Or thought my brother who was not home was somewhere playing one. But I think of Mario: his body ravaged by flame or a canon or a Venus flytrap. I think of how he came back. We never celebrated Easter; we were not those kinds of Christians. But we believed in a Jesus who had a 1up up the sleeve of his humble robe.

    I don’t know why we didn’t go out. Or why I was loud that day. I, the reader. I, the leave me alone in every room. But I did. It snowed and we stayed in and I closed his door. I remember that. Like I remember that sartorius is a long thin muscle that covers the femoral artery. It has been years since I’ve needed to know that, but it won’t leave.

    I also know that if you stab a person in the femoral artery, they’ll bleed out in minutes unless pressure or a tourniquet is applied. I’ve never needed to know that but there it is. My mother knows CPR. In theory. There is a great chasm between certification and application. Sometimes when I can’t sleep because I am imagining my family suddenly dead on the way home from the grocery store, I think about CPR. The half-body of the dummy I was trained on and I wonder if it was worth saving, could I do it? If I loved it. If I found it half-dead and wearing my ring.

    My mother forgets everything. Go ahead, ask her where her keys are. Ask me what I had for breakfast. When I learned CPR, the mnemonic was ABC: airways, breathing, compression. There is an order to this. Priorities.

    After, when she was in the ambulance or at the hospital. I called my grandmother. Or my mother called her, but that seems less likely. I think I said come get me.

    My grandfather was outside in his car and I was halfway to it when I thought I should bring my father’s address book. I know my grandfather brought me to his house, but I don’t know how we got there – if we took the roads we always took or if this was an occasion special enough to merit a shortcut.

    I had the phone in my hand when I remembered I was a child. So I didn’t call anyone. I gave the book to my grandmother. Or put it in my bag. Or I fell asleep with it in my hand on the pullout couch that I did not care enough to pull out. Or I still have it in a box somewhere.

    I’m not sure I remember the exact moment when someone told me he was dead. But I remember crying into the large full frame of my grandmother. And then sleeping. Someone brought home, I imagine. By then, we were a smaller family.

    And none of this is what I remember most: the snow, falling. I on the couch staring out the window waiting for my brother to come home. I called after him. Twice perhaps. To friends. To the parents of friends. I wonder, now, what they remember of that night. Snow? My voice?  My daughter tells me about her day all the time. Her voice is small and then unexpectedly loud. Every story is really only sentences standing next to each other by chance – strangers on an overbooked flight. She remembers everything at once: the other day, she says.

     

    First appeared in Winter Tangerine.