You and I go together like the ampersand symbol and the number 7 key. Maybe that placement is why I consider ampersands lucky.

Was it Mom or was it Granny who taught me that when a street sign or telephone pole or person passes between two walking shoulder to shoulder, always say “bread and butter” as a form of reunion on the other side?

O coordinating conjunction of revolutionary parity! Joining two or more clauses of equal rank!

Perhaps I like pub trivia for its exquisite purity, an elegant realm where facts are facts, evaluated only by the metrics “right” and “wrong.”

Some things I don’t mind taking jointly: Ice cream and cake. Wait and see. Whereas I’ll take the pens and leave the pencils, take the potatoes and leave the meat.

Yesterday I decided to go for a run, and then I tripped and broke my hand. Would that I could eliminate that second and third and but I can’t. In one instant I was a person who had lived 41 years with no broken bones and the next I was struggling to stand and walk home.

Is it acceptable to begin a sentence with and? And how! Though prejudice lingers from a bygone time.

He used to be so handsome, and now…

Those personality tests like the Meyers-Briggs can be deceptively encouraging of binaries—much more either/or than and. I’m an ENFJ, but the extraversion rests on the slightest majority, hovering between 51 and 53%. Whatever kind of vert you are, I will probably like hanging out with you.

Ecosystems and continuums. And so on. And so forth.

Physicist Max Tegmark argues that time is an illusion brought on by perception, not something fundamental to the universe. “We can portray our reality as either a three-dimensional place where stuff happens over time, or as a four-dimensional place where nothing happens—and if it really is the second picture, then change really is an illusion, because there’s nothing that’s changing; it’s all just there—past, present, future.”

A poet I follow on Twitter used the bottom of her coffee mug to make a Venn diagram: Radical acceptance and compassion vs. fuck around and find out.

What Tegmark means is that “life is like a movie, and space-time is like the DVD” where “nothing about the DVD itself that is changing in any way, even though there’s all this drama unfolding in the movie.” In that sense, I am always a) about to break my hand and b) breaking my hand and c) walking around with a broken hand simultaneously. Interesting concept, but I still have to get surgery to put two pins in my finger this Wednesday.

I like being a person alone in a room and I like being in expansive company.

Little kids intuitively grasp the improv-troupe credo of Yes, and. Like if you say “We’re playing store,” they’re like “Yes, and these birch leaves are the money.”

The plot twists and turns like a surgeon’s scalpel.


Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a founding member of Poems While You Wait, and the author, most recently, of the novels Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (St. Martin’s, 2017) and Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey (Penguin, 2020). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, the Atlantic, the North American Review and elsewhere, and her latest collection Where Are the Snows, winner of the XJ Kennedy Prize, is coming out from Texas Review Press in Fall 2022.  She teaches at DePaul and her next novel, From Dust to Stardust, will be published by Lake Union Press in Fall of 2023. 

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