Beyza ozer | CLEaning service
an excerpt & interview
let me leave you a good looking corpse / I've been living under this moonlight too long with no dog to hold / I'm trying to remember your smile but you're always just / leaving the room / & yes / that is blood / my nosebleeds have gotten worse since you left / no / I don't love you again / maybe a little / you make me so tired / so tired / I want the stars back in my mouth / I want cleaner air in my lungs & your sister keeps smoking / say something / I can only breathe through my mouth / you know / that mouth / the one that has been so many places you will never know about / never ask about / & I'll leave you alone if that's what you want but / mom / I'm getting better every day / I swear it / recently I have been barefoot at the shore of Lake Michigan / yes I was crying but I swear / it won't be like last time no hospital gowns or blank faced birthdays / we will be okay & I said that four Octobers ago / I mean it this time / will you open the front door now?
soft hair & black holes have been keeping me up past 2:30 each night / when will I tell her about the time I watched her sleep in our hotel room & never saw a meteor shower but felt one / it crumbled apart & flowered through my nerves / everything went numb but the good numb / the static kind / this is me telling her / you / that I have never danced with someone I've seen naked before / I have never been naked with someone I loved before / it's like climbing trees only because I have never been able to climb a tree / it always felt too almost / too almost like the event horizon / like the shade of brown the year she lived in Wisconsin & I lived / almost / I would not call that living but retrograding / Mercury did not have shit on me / & it's hard to be naked right?
Where and when did this chapbook begin? What were its first words?
cleaning service began because I was writing a book that dealt with my connection/lack of a connection to religion and my family. When I finish writing FAIL BETTER, I felt like the book itself was finished, but my exploration of these specific themes weren't. So a lot of the pieces in cleaning service were poems I didn't see fitting into the book, but were still important for me to share. The first few words were "soft hair & black holes have been keeping me up past 2:30 each night" and the lines just kept falling out of my hands from there.
This chapbook is so intimate & confessional –– when writing these poems what part of your body felt them the most?
I think in a lot of ways writing these poems, and, any poems really, made parts of me that I don't have names for feel something like an ache. I would say my heart, but that's not genuine enough. Different parts of my body felt differently with each poem I wrote –– if I was writing about my grandma, I would think of hands. If I was writing about my mother, I would feel each hair on the back of my neck stand up. It really just depends on who is making me feel in that moment.
You mention and refer to outer space several times in Cleaning Service –– what draws you to space? What do you see in the stars?
I see a future in the stars. I see hope in the galaxy. Space is something that will always be constant and growing and beautiful and unimaginable. That's how I want poetry to make me and others feel––like we're all waiting to witness something amazing that may never come, but at least we've spent our time together working toward art and things that make us passionate. Sometimes being on this earth can feel really lonely and hopeless and terrifying, but how can you not a good thing in your heart when you think about everything that's so much bigger than you?
Can you explain the title Cleaning Service? How did you come to it? How did it come to you?
The title came to me after I realized what this chapbook is really about––a sense of urgency to get rid of all the bad parts of life before realizing that everything happens for a reason. It's about reconsideration and learning to be okay with aspects of yourself that not everyone can accept. It's about self love and figuring out how to actually accomplish that in a society that teaches us the opposite. Once I had that idea in my mind, I knew exactly how I wanted this work to be accepted by others and for it to be there when nothing else is.
beyza ozer is a queer/trans/Muslim writer living in Chicago. beyza's work has appeared in & is forthcoming from The Offing, Pinwheel, Vinyl, Nightblock, Witchcraft Magazine, Shabby Doll House, & the anthology SUBJECT TO CHANGE: TRANS POETRY & CONVERSATION (Sibling Rivalry Press 2017). beyza is the author of FAIL BETTER (fog machine 2017) & I DON'T MEAN TO REDSHIFT(Maudlin House 2016). They are deputy director of social media at YesYes Books. beyza works at The Poetry Foundation.