I was a little big hungover this morning after a wonderfully friendly reading in Williamsburg last night, after which I reconvened with some batshit crazy friend of mind from high school who I nomered "The Unlikeliest Attorney." I mean, fifteen years ago this guy was growing hydroponic in a warehouse in Brooklyn and next thing you know he's a public defender. This morning I woke up on the floor (intentionally) of my parents' apartment, where they had kindly laid out the spare mattress in what they call "the library"--which really is a room lined with books. Among these books I noticed three copies in a row of my dad's only one, published in 1973 by the Sierra Club. It's called Unreal Estate, (har har, and that's the point of this post) and it's an expose of a certain bunch of real estate scams going down at the time. Knowing my dad, it's probably a pretty dry read, but unfailingly accurate and even-handed. He's a Libra. Right there and then, with my right temple alternately on fire and impaled by an ice pick I had a revelation: EVERYTHING is genetic. Or let me rephrase that as a question: IS Everything Genetic? Did even my helpless and unremitting fondness for punny or just jokey titles ("Laconic Parkway"; "The World Is My Cloister"; "Autobiographia Copularia"--these are just a few of my gems) come to me the same way my large hands and skinny ankles did? God knows my dad didn't walk around the house punning or even just being humorous with any regularity. He's a Libra.

Originally Published: July 31st, 2009

Born and raised in New York City, Rebecca Wolff earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She authored Manderley (2001), selected for the 2001 National Poetry Series; Figment (2004), winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; The King (2009); and One Morning— (2015). Her work has appeared in BOMB...

  1. August 1, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    Both Allen Ginsberg and Annie Finch's dads were writers Rebecca. Mine too. He wrote plays for a radical communist theatre company in 1950's Berlin when serving in the East German Secret Service: The Ministry for State Security, (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), commonly known as The Stasi.\r

    Dad was a triple agent working British, American and Russian Intelliegence off of each other as part of his Conceptual performance which sought to bring reality to the door of Art and make transendental make-believe from the raw material of double cross and shit-stir, misinformation and plain bald lying through his back teeth to all five handlers from each of the various organisations all thinking s/he was in their pocket for the love of YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU con.\r

    That is why I have such a high regard for children of accomplished poetical veterans who have served at the front line of up your union of horrid lying gits jack and jill: bend any which way yer won't; coz that's what's happening here A-Joke, B-joke, c-joke, d-joker and E pretender speaking faintly comical, when Dad thought about it as he was writing his memoirs in the eighties when Ron was the front person doing the showing off for us, as the really nice fella who we all trusted coz he had a gift for pretending what wasn't so was.\r

    Ron and Dad had a lot in common. Both were avid actors behaving as fiction were fact for so long and with such aplomb, fact became fiction and reality became blurbed to a two second soundbite in which wit donned the guise of wisdom: Aixs of Goodness, Dad was working for: The Love-in For Happiness soundbite he put on the pre-publicity posters to hand by one's table in Kilmainham as the tallest of four cranes staggered down a mild slope to the river Liffey; casts the outline of its gantry, in a tent-diagram and stationary beak possessing in the brightest yellow of all as its surface steel, the light of dawn caught square on as Lugh's pictogram. A god putting into physical visibility some metaphorical source of it all: DNA - where's it from Rebecca Wolff?\r

    Ask this actor, then this man and get back to me, please.

  2. August 3, 2009
     Gail White

    I am so little like either of my parents in taste or temperament that I sometimes suspect I was a changeling. \r

    What I really want to say, Rachel, is that I would love to do a poetry reading at Williamsburg, even if the audience threw bits of 17th-century brick at my head. You are much to be envied!