Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is the author of The Self Unstable (a hybrid collection forthcoming from Black Ocean in Fall 2013) and The French Exit, a collection of poems (Birds LLC, 2010). Her poetry, prose, and collaborations have appeared widely in publications such as Boston Review, Colorado Review, Conduit, Denver Quarterly, Pleaides, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Denver and blogs at http://thefrenchexit.blogspot.com/.

from The Self Unstable

Voting is inherently good—it inures us to outcomes, to our statistical
insignificance. “I vote every day by not having children.” Our most
frequently accessed memories are most likely to be wrong, not to
mention streaked with light. Pride is the successful avoidance of


Which comes first, senseless violence or meaningful violence? I mean
everything I say, because everything means. Don’t speak to me of
facts. I despise history as I despise current events. History is the news
via consensus. And then they add mood music. Don’t speak of the
future. What hasn’t happened can never happen. I want to live in the
hypothetical, the unproved.


Most days we don’t think about the war. We don’t watch the news.
It’s not that what we don’t know can’t hurt us; it’s that we like to
conjure causes for our pain. The life of the mind: Life is in our minds
and the news is outside. Life is tragic in real time, but the memories
are farcical. What good does it do to feel the same things over and
over, to rehearse the same pains? I want a part in the play within the