On a recent train ride back from a reading at Sarah Lawrence College, I found a business card wedged in the seat next to me for a Citi Bank Customer Relations Representative named Carrie.   On the back someone had written,

"I hope that baby poisons your meaning in life George.  I'd rather be a letter unread than unwritten.  Hurt is all.  All is everything. "

Whoever had written it had gone over the last sentence several times with their pen.  All.  Is.  Everything.

I have a good friend who works for Citi Bank in Manhattan so I emailed her to see if you she might personally know a Carrie Johnson (I'm not using her real last name here of course).  My friend wrote back and said she didn't know anyone by that name but could look Carrie up through their system if I wanted.  Did I want?  And, what did I want?  No, I said.

A few days later, after dreaming that Carrie was a waitress serving me a cereal bowl full of diamond ringed brass knuckles while dining with my ex-boyfriend, after dreaming that Carrie was a scary man chasing me through the Chelsea Market, a scary man who looked like Michael Peterson from "The Staircase Murderer" documentary series, but who I kept calling "Bad Carrie" as I ran through the aisles of oyster shuckers and Frisee, I decided to call up the branch where she worked.  I had no idea what I was going to say to her or why I was even calling.  The person I spoke with told me that Carrie Johnson no longer works for Citi Bank.   "Wow.  That had to be recent, right?" Ii said.  The woman said yes.

On my desk is a black and white photo of Katharine Hepburn and a wooden decoupaged doohickey depicting a cat in an ostentatious hat typing on a type writer.  It  belonged to my Grandmother in the 40's and I'm told it was her writing good luck charm.  I put the business card with them.  I've been staring at it.  I've been running wild.  What are the odds Carrie had written that on the back of her own card?  Who was George?  Why did Carrie quit?  Did she quit?  Did she quit because of George?  Did she pull the last pen out from her collection of highlighers one day and look at it like a straw?  Sitting there in her cubicle, at her desk, fantasizing murderously about the paramour's arms who held her George's arms all night?  What kind of sick joke is Love?  I don't give a shit if some Neruda has asked this before.  I'm asking it now.

Every night, I've been writing poems to Carrie.  My own strange version of Kiki Petrosino's "Fort Red Border".  Below is tonight's poem.  It's copied from my notebook and not meant to be anything spiffy, just an attempt to share and keeping writing.

If any of you readers feel like writing poems to Carrie, feel free to share and send them to me at amber@rebelasylum.com.  (Don't judge my Rebelasylum website moniker:  it's from back when I listened to too much Ani Difranco and thought I would become a famous breakdancer one day.  I still may.)

My hope is to post some of your poems here in the next couple of weeks and maybe an update or two about Carrie, somehow, if that happens.

.... During the edit of this post, not 15 minutes ago, I got this from my girl at Citi Bank:  "...I looked anyway.  In her file it says she's also a writer, for whatever that's worth."

Poem for Carrie

The story's all over you.

In your toe cracks, your bad back,

too many nights have broken over your body

like black yokes.  All over you,

the story marinates every minute, stops brushing your hair,

feeding you, taking out your trash,

grows from your eyes and ears in branches of dread,

rigor mortis vines into the teal seats of Bronxville.

Across my lap, a sun pattern, a curse in the shape of a kiss

that never found your forehead.  Alongside my lap,

a lone flashcard of intentions, a tongue from the origami monster.

I hold your story in my hands, a baby poem

fallen out of the nest,


Originally Published: April 14th, 2010

Actress and poet Amber Tamblyn was born in Venice, California. She is the author of the poetry collections Free Stallion (2005), winner of the Borders Book Choice Award for Breakout Writing, and Bang Ditto (2015). She self-published the poetry, art, and photography collections Plenty of Ships and Of the Dawn, and...