Amber Tamblyn Plays Poet

By Anne Adams August 23, 2011

Actor? Absolutely. Poet? We’ll let you decide.

You might recognize Amber Tamblyn as the painfully scrupulous Martha Masters from TV series House, but we bet you’ve yet to read her poetry. That can change right now when you preview one of her pieces (below). If you like it, make plans to see Tamblyn throw down at Portland Poetry Slam this Sunday. Or, if you think you can do better, sign up to battle her in the 8-spot showcase. Either way, you might want to arrive early, because like all real and rumored Portlandia tapings, this thing will probably be packed.

Whenever we read the following selection, we can’t help but picture Tamblyn’s trembling pen pointed straight at her high-profile fiancé, David Cross. If that’s the case, it describes a steamy but gradual courtship with the much-older funnyman, which just goes to show: Sexiness, like poetry, is subjective.


I consider myself flexible in awkward positions.
Not a home wrecker,
but I do knock.
And you and I are pals.
The kind that
open up to each other but keep mouths
at a safe distance.

But I cannot amend all tongues.

I walk the dubious centerfold of your eye-line, friend.
I carry my purse on the same side you walk next to me
to avoid hand.
To avoid saying anything small.
We are the shredded fuse,
the rebound wires commencing,
badly rerouted and iniquitous.
We are the failed test of the emergency buddy system.
I am a derelict without furniture or life signs,
painting your posture from distance that
can fit inside the palm of your land.

Though we share ice cream instead of pipedreams,
I know
you’d never be lover to another poet
because you are one.
And the fear of being served a reflection
in the way that you have served some,
is a glass house you are not ready to escape from.
I’ll keep liking mint, while you go for chocolate.
I can’t seem to get away from.

You are just another sheep
jumping the fence in my nightmares.
Counting out numerical complacency,
a platonic answer with a nod-off.
Like a million hairs you’ve grown near your mouth
plowed down, rough and sore
my beard too wants to be a little f**ked and worn, but

the time is not now, if not never.
Not before, during or after
her, your lover, another, or the next chapter.
So let’s just say
let’s just stay
friends, forever.

There is no title for our book cover-up,
so I will keep reading like a brood kept laboring.

Take a long walk off my short feet,
my stomach pleads hunger no matter
how much I eat
and its open mouth aches.
Where there should be butterflies there are moths.
Eating through my loins like loincloth.
If there’s a map to things spoken, friend
we’ll see we are way off.

You’re the worst kind because
you wont even reject me physically,
we can’t even celebrate celibacy.
I am your dirty washboard
and yet have never had you inside me.

There’s no declaration in our country.

You tug the one red string
that seems to run through everything.

I seek your flying patterns from behind,
the blue leading the blind.

Friends. No beneficiary.
So we stay.

© Amber Tamblyn from the book Free Stallion

Tamblyn will read at Backspace this Sunday, August 28. 7:30pm. Admission is $5 and the venue is all-ages. For more about Portland arts events, visit PoMo’s Arts & Entertainment Calendar, stream content with an RSS feed, or sign up for our weekly On The Town Newsletter!

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