My first wife died 13 years ago around this time of year.

Here’s Rebecca on the roof of our apartment on East 22nd Street in New York City in perhaps 2002. This photo was taken by Wyatt Counts, the friend of a friend, and it’s a wonderful likeness. Rebecca called herself “dark and stormy,” but I think warm and troubled is more accurate. But then again, who isn’t that? This is the same rooftop from which we watched the collapse of the World Trade Center the year before and, for about an hour prior to that, scores of people jump to their deaths out of the smoke. Is that where she got the idea? It’s the same rooftop where we used to drink wine and talk about our plans. It’s the same rooftop where, after she died, I arranged to have a tree planted. I tend to avoid East 22nd Street as I’m doing my errands in the Flatiron/Gramercy part of town. As if, when I passed the exact spot where her body was found, I might be struck on the head by a falling object, brained by a falling branch of the very tree I planted in her memory.

All the poems I have written about Rebecca’s death (and some about our life together) have finally been published in one place, a chapbook called The Whetting Stone (Rattle Chapbook Prize, 2017). Some of the poems have been published individually in journals, but none have ever appeared in any of my other books. I tried twice to have a section of those poems in the manuscript, but you could easer sail a stone in a paper boat across the Hudson River. They just carried too much weight. For a decade I’ve suspected they would need a book all to themselves. Now, almost 13 years after her death, they will have it.



  1. Susannah 9.3.17

    Congratulations on the publication of The Whetting Stone, which I’ve just read. The poems are searing, and I’m struck by the way in which each one takes on such a specific aspect of the experience that the poems never feel repetitive within the collection. Each one felt like its own revelation, and then by the end I was also impressed by how carefully built the chapbook was, as a whole; getting the order of poems right can be tricky within a collection and the order here felt exactly right,

  2. Janet Martucci 11.22.17

    Dear Taylor, had no idea this had happened, am saddened, and 13 years is still pretty raw. i also did not realize you were Brooklyn based, thought you lived in Portland (Maine) all this time and taught there. Don’t know if this will gratify or anger you, but knowing the impotence of proofreading, i figured you would want to know: “…but you could easer sail a stone …”; i am not that adept in English (though i too seek to rhyme, and have annoyed poets by claiming otherwise it is prose. I annoyed a UMA writing teacher by rhyming all my haikus, she was neither amused nor inspired), so maybe easer is indeed what you meant to write. Be well, love your stuff, too bad the Big Buck Mall in Washington, Maine burnt down, it was a great venue for Poetry slams, even though Vinnie “the fish” Lang literaly dropped dead after performing his excellent “Suicide Hotline” poem, leaping energetically off the stage to a burst of applause and sudden cardiac arrest (not self inflicted). Have not been to a slam since, though my cousin’s daughter Cali Bullmash has made slamming her present or recently past profession…these youngsters nowadays…..Be well, have a grand holiday, whatever you choose to call it. Eat well.

  3. taylormali_f0oqda 11.30.17

    I wasn’t at that slam where Vinnie died, but I heard about it!

  4. dion oreilly 12.4.17

    Reading your chapbook right now. It’s amazing. Can’t believe how good the villanelle, “Do Not Think of Suicide as the Ultimate Fuck You,” was. So hard to write a good one. The whole collection is a good example of how writing can be clear but still deep. You rock.