I can spell anesthesiologist but not marvelously


          Meaningful meaning
          meaningless meaning

          ‘Everyone’ is always an exaggeration

The story of a student who walked onto the field a man
and left a woman

The story of faux bois
fake boy
don’t prick your finger
I make slices of cake

                    “…think that sugar is more important than simile”

          The heart is a dog—do you feel that?

Salmonella-infested waters
he doesn’t know what happened to her bod—

He paid her killers to kill her
rather than with pangas
he was spared
because he was =

                    “It’s not a negation—it’s a celebration.”

Who eats who
like a government child

Man years
bad moons
no mores


The two direct quotations in “Like sugar like” are from a radio interview with Kamau Brathwaite I heard on a podcast in a hotel room in some town I can’t remember in probably 2006. He was talking about a tragedy, a killing in the news. I think it was in Rwanda or the Congo in the forest, the killing. It was Brathwaite and so of course he was brilliant about everything, lacing politics, violence, gender, poetics, the real… I took notes.

I once went to the forest in western Uganda and was impressed by the panga (the sword, the word). That, and at a dinner with President Yoweri Museveni, he learned I’d been a Women’s Studies major; Museveni asked me what I thought of the Western feminist, like in general. I said like, in general, I hold out for some sorts of cultural specificity. Like maybe. He was asking me what I thought about specific issues like genital mutilation, especially female, I suppose. I supposed this later in a hotel outside town, where I could hear the guards playing cards in the night. I think. There was some urgency to leaving Museveni’s place, or in the leaving. A bus of soldiers climbing the hill to his house passed us on our way down. They passed us and we pulled over and didn’t look at them looking at us. The next day was a day in the forest. This was probably 1998.

This poem is from my new manuscript, Man Years. It holds the title phrase, which I’m using in the collection to press upon and mis-use in gendered, labor-related, and absurd contexts. I don’t think I’ll write a paragraph like this for each piece. Not generally. But maybe.


Sandra Doller’s first book Oriflamme (a word featured in the 2009 National Spelling Bee) was published by Ahsahta Press in 2005. Her second collection Chora is freshly out from Ahsahta. Doller is the founder & editrice of the curiously named 1913 a journal of forms/1913 Press. She lives all over with her man, Ben Doller, and their creatures.