Stella Hayes — “Responsible Life Form”

                                                                                    After Grace Paley’s Responsibility

I keep to myself my escape fantasies in which I move out and am bestowed child visitation rights. A judge responsible for family decisions assigning me alimony. I have said fuck you & fuck in the presence of my children as long as they can remember — & asked my son, the youngest of the two, not to repeat it in company. A recent report from his friend’s mother, communicates he is a good conversationalist. He’s visited Burgundy in 2015, a vintage with few shortcomings. I overhear him bellow them out at rest & play. I have glamorized my tendencies — like Helen of Troy, I am not responsible for the moods gods breathe deep into me. On Tuesdays, my spouse & are jointly responsible for recycling the New York Times. We equally share our responsibility for staging rage in front of our children. I have declaimed to my children that I drink responsibly at home . When I am at my most responsible, I am better at lying. I withhold from them, the men I fuck —, in my head. How do I tell my son I live a posthumous life.

Ukrainian-American poet Stella Hayes is the author of poetry collection One Strange Country (What Books Press, 2020). She grew up in Brovary, a suburb outside of Kyiv, Ukraine, and Los Angeles. She earned a creative writing degree at the University of Southern California and is a graduate student at NYU studying for an M.F.A in poetry. Her work has been nominated for the Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Four Way Review, Poet Lore, Poetry Project’s The Recluse, Stanford’s Mantis, Prelude and Spillway among others. She served as Assistant Fiction editor at Washington Square Review (2021-2022.) She’s Poetry editor, at Washington Square Review.