by Caolan Madden
a photo essay/personality test
Q: Would you believe that every morning I wake up in my black lace brassière and smudge the kohl-black sleep out of my eyes and stumble into my study where I snap open my mother's sea-green Viking sewing machine and sort of cast about me (in that green sea) for any old material--a towel, a carpet, a J Crew catalog, a couple of takeout boxes, some fascicles--and get the machine up humming and just start whipping frills?
[Don't believe me. I don’t even know how you whip a frill. But I wish I could spend all morning positively whipping frills until I had something to put on and be and show. Whenever the spirit moved me. I wish I could do it on the Viking. I wish I could do it in my Kitchenaid mixer.]
Q: How do you whip a frill?
a) with an eggbeater
b) with a raglan sleeve
c) what did the frills do wrong?
[Instead I have this housedress of my grandmother's that I think about turning into a cocktail dress. In high school I learned how to make a pattern for a raglan sleeve. The cocktail dress isn't going to have raglan sleeves, so that knowledge is worthless. I hang the dress on the door, think about swanning around in this housedress, hopping around in that imagined cocktail dress. I could DEFINITELY make a paper doll of the cocktail dress. I could MAYBE make a poem of the cocktail dress. I could PROBABLY make a poem of the paper doll.]
Q: What kind of poem has raglan sleeves?
a – d) write your own poem on a separate sheet.
[I can't make clothes like poems/I’m not sure if I can make poems like clothes. I can put clothes in poems/read poems in clothes. One time I went around muttering "red shoes, red shoes." Then I bought these red shoes. I wore them with a red dress & a copy of Ulysses; with a blue dress & a copy of Romeo and Juliet; with a pink skirt & the Faber & Faber edition of Ariel, the one with red tulips on the front. Then I fell down in a park or something and wrote a poem about them! and in them!
Then people thought I liked shoes so they started buying me things shaped like shoes. Mostly those things are useless but this tape dispenser comes in pretty handy.]
Q: What is blurbling off your lips this morning? And is it also on your feet?
a) red-hot shoes in which I will dance to my death/obvs
b) "Unique New York"/sure
c) Scotch tape/maybe
[I could use these pins to stab-bind a fascicle. But I mostly don’t. I just use the tape dispenser and the Kitchenaid mixer and the shoes. But you know. Sometimes you need to learn to love frills before you can whip them.]
Q: Would you rather
a) whip frills
b) rip seams
c) stab bindings
d) stumble around in a black brassière
Mostly a’s: Your frills are dream-frills: so positively foamy they fill up the dream-frame. When we wake up they seem to be gone, but there are those telltale bubbles.
Mostly b’s: You seem to be able to make real frills; please send me some through the U.S. Postal Service.
Mostly c’s: I kind of think you are Emily Dickinson?
Mostly d’s: Let us put on our trashiest peignors and have a mint julep together or maybe a cherry coke.
Bio: Caolan Madden lives in Brooklyn & sometimes makes poem machines (but not sewing or mixing machines).