“pretty flowers” is a curious formatted poem, or group of poems without any clear delineation between them by Gabby Gabby . There is no rhyme or stanzas, per se, yet this is 100% poetry. In a large Helvetica (italicized?) font each sentence seems to be a stanza that declares an emotion, or idea that builds off each other. Though the poem/poems are somewhat simple–where ‘haters’ may say this is pointless (similar to the initial response to Steve Roggenbukc, maybe)–each sentence/stanza hold such a human/relatable emotion while their are little reoccurring ideas that work off each in a subtle ways that made me feel excited to be human, like there was a whole world to explore and I wasn’t kind of poor and didn’t have to work 40 hrs at a mindless job.
The first 3 sentences/stanza, “I want to go to every state / fair in the United States. // I don’t think I really like / state fairs but I like the / idea of being the type of / person that likes state / fairs. // I think if I tried hard / enough I could really be / that person.” seemed to introduce the idea of a celebration of life that the narrator seemed to ideally think would be good, but seems to feel on the outside of. The next page, she writes of sitting on top of Ferris Wheels and learning to love the smell of corn dogs even though she’s vegan. Like the corn dog is a symbol of her ‘otherness’ and she writes, “Maybe after traveling from / state to state I could finally /stop being so anxious / about feeling like I am / missing everything.” At the last state fair she would say, “‘Yep. That’s it. It’s all right / there.’” Like she had lived and gotten her youth right, solved some issue that had to be addressed before moving on with her life. These sentences made me feel excited and reflective on my youth. I had always had the feeling of wanting to get my youth right, as if I did something this way, or concluded this, then my youth would achieve my ideal, and ideals are big with youth. Like if I could go here, do this drug, see this music, talk to this person, date this girl, and do ALL OF THESE things then finally I would be happy, and it would last. I would have found my happiness. I’m 33 and ‘my happiness’ is found reading/writing literature, being around my girlfriend, friends and family with some laughs, a nice meal, but this lasting happiness that can’t be thwarted never came, and I realized it never would. I don’t think Gabby Gabby is necessarily meaning ALL OF THIS I had written, it is just my personal reflection in it. Also I loved State Fairs as a child going to the LA County Fair, Orange County Fair and San Diego County Fair at Del Mar. Sometimes I think back to going to the fairs with my grandma and mom and whole family, and wish I could fly back to California and go to the Orange County Fair or Del Mar Fair with my mom. Makes me tearful thinking of it. Especially want to sit on those machines that for a quarter vibrate and massage your feet. And eat funnel cake. I miss my mom.
This child-like feeling the poem/poems initially brought segues into the narrator talking about reciting the 50 states when she was a child. She muses on Michigan and how people in Michigan miss each other, the ones that are on the separate piece of Michigan, and if they’re lonelier than people in Maine.
She continues being playful, “I thought about how I / would spend my whole life / trying to be a circle if I / lived in a square state in / the Midwest.” She lives in Virginia and uses a diagram of Virginia “…upward sloping / shape, or a downward / sloping shape depending / on whether you are an / optimist or a pessimist.” Then the next page is a diagram demonstrating the previous sentence with a “:-(” for the pessimistic and a “:-)” for the optimistic, it made me laugh and gave a ‘nod’ to internet literature because people like to incorporate drawings and diagrams (because they’re fun and easily accessible/attachable/creatable via photoshop and the internet.)
“‘Virgina is for lovers’” (The states slogan) and “Thomas Jefferson” is mused upon next, sequing into a more erotic and humorous section of the poem/poems. With funny sentences/stanzas like, “I think lovers could also / live in Ohio if they wanted / to.” and “I live in colonial / Williamsburg so I see / Thomas Jefferson a lot / actually.” she adds two more elements she plays with as she continues that she lets people think she actually lives in Williamsburg, the “trendy” neighborhood of Brooklyn. She imagines herself passed out naked in Brooklyn and says “It is also a very ‘Gabby’ / thing to do.” And I felt an affinity with this, as she metaphorically displays an image of vulnerability, but also I had visited her tumblr and found a poem she had written over a photo of her topless. I quickly changed the webpage because I’m at work, but like the idea of that because I sometimes feel ‘exhibitionist’ myself and once thought of making an anonymous tumblr blog of me naked with my writing, thinking it would turn me on in a way, but also to get attention (I’m thinking mostly from gay dudes because I’m skinny and ‘boyish’ looking) yet feel inhibited and didn’t want to show my face, but if I didn’t show my face it would be lame, and I don’t know if pictures of me naked would be that cool to another person; plus it may bode unwell with my girlfriend. Like anything, you’d have to try it to know if it is a turn-on, so I’ll never know. But back to the poem, she writes, “I’m thinking of / Brooklyn.” And I think many literary types fantasize about being in Brooklyn and Manhattan and ‘interacting’ with literary types, often times Muumuu House writers (at least my writerly fantasizes do.)
She continues regarding “…a weird historically / accurate erotica” with Thomas Jefferson and then addresses that this poem doesn’t have anything to do with flowers. She dislikes “cut” flowers and would prefer ”If you want to be my / valentine bring me potted / plants.” Which to her signifies ‘romance’; ”Well, as long as someone / was watering them and / singing to them.” Suggesting a yearning for a relationship, something to grow and nurture, not just a pretty rose that will die.
She starts ending it with viewing the “downward slope” of Virginia as fun, ”Kind of like a slip and slide / or a the side of a cardboard / box pressed up against a / grassy hill. // Maybe I am an optimist. At / least for today.” There is a blank spot on the rest of this page, making the reader think the poem/poems are over.
The next page, “P.S. Where are all the / lovers? They are not in / Virginia. // Message me on ok cupid.” Turns the whole poem on it’s head, making it like a message that was sent on a dating site. Like this was the message of an artistic idealist who doesn’t want to be bound by the world, and wants child-like freedom/innocence and the joy/costly freedom of the adult-world.
Gabby Gabby’s “pretty flowers” takes on a jaded world with a child-like tone; as if the narrator recognizes the ‘fucked’ part of life yet doesn’t want to give in to a bleak world-view. The poem seems to look at the structure of the world, like states and celebration of states, slogan of states, and ideas of loneliness and the longing for connection/understanding to the idea of ‘completing’ yourself. To a feeling of wholeness, of being loved, of not regretting missing life–while being true to yourself, when possibly being ‘true to yourself’ mean accepting that sometimes you’re a pessimist and sometimes you’re an optimist, who would like to be given a potted plant.
 Gabby Gabby is Walter Mackey’s friend.