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Now and Then

18 Oct

You walk away from everything like you always do.  You can never walk away quietly; it is always fire.

You wonder why you are like this – why it has to be this way, but then you know that you never want anything to come back to.

This is how your life is – one circle of flames on top of the other, spiraling up toward some purpose you hope is waiting for you.

Because that must be it, and if it isn’t, at least you burn.

And as you watch your former lives fall away you know that you feel younger now than you did then.  And you know this time the finger on the match was yours.

And you know now new flames are being lit within, connecting back into the belief that all that you thought you were capable of is still there.

This is your responsibility; to grasp onto your own inner belief, grasp onto what you belief you can provide to serve wherever you land.

But you don’t know where that is, and you don’t know how long you’ll drift, and you don’t know how long you will want to be alone, free and beholden to none.

You only know now is the reckoning, or the change, or the space that you needed to look back at your own creation; to look back at all you destroyed and walked away from; to look back and see what’s left of you when you return.

For now it is disconnection, uneven terrain, passion and silence.  It is a pen in a hand and paper that no one will read.

It is stories that won’t ever be told; it is cities that have no return.  It is a map to nowhere and a destination that is foggy; it is the echoes between the mountains, in valleys that reflect back the sound of your own making.

A Prose Poem Inspired By An NPR Segment

11 May

How can I listen when you don’t love me, when you ask me to love myself before you can, as if I could do you something you couldn’t, as if I could taste myself the way that you have, with your tongue in my mouth I plead for less, or more, or something that I can grasp onto that would let me know I wouldn’t have to go on searching for something that you refuse to give of yourself.

We’re told that this is love, this giving, and that’s how I know we’re holding onto with; withholding from one another the pieces of ourselves that we cannot bear to let, yet when I hear your voice across a line, beneath a surface, I come to you again and again, throughout time and know you are undeserving of such a response, know that one day I will look at your face and wonder what I let go of; know that we will scream across a room, a distance, a separation of what we once had together.

Know that I will see your face with closed eyes and think of all the unwritten words, and I will know that I can’t but return again and again to that thing I gave you so long ago and wonder at the innocence that we once were.

The Journey Of Finding Your Writer’s Voice: A New Poem

8 May

Virginia Woolf said that a writer couldn’t write when they were angry, Nabokov said writers need enthusiasm and Grace Paley said truth.  I tried to write truth but it laughed at me, it said it couldn’t be written, I wrote anger and it covered rooms and hung off the backs of chairs like long strands of sticky taffy.

My mother always said, “be careful, they can pull out your teeth,” and so I tried on enthusiasm and that exhausted me; it cannot be sustained, though when I was young I could fill pages with it.

My mother was my first critic, she looked at my words and sniffed, “too much dialog,” so I put down my pen and told myself I wasn’t very good – how can there be no scene?

I didn’t know how to describe the things that I saw, to convey feeling, I could only be a vehicle for what others said and that seemed to be my story.

The I wasn’t anything but observation for that’s all it saw, but the eye knew more than I did and it knew to look inward, to keep searching beneath the glaze.

It skimmed its sight over my cracks and said, “this must be told,” but how does one paint pictures with words, how does one create bridges so that others can walk across your ruptures?

I didn’t want trodden paths or feet upon me, I didn’t want other’s eyes telling my stories, so I hide in metaphor because I didn’t want to see my own telling.

So frightened was I that I never said anything really.   I used each stroke of each letter to build an abstract that one could hang on a wall, or in a coffee shop, or in a place where it was ok to not know the meaning of things because that was the point.

To not mean anything to anyone so that you can be anything to everyone

“That’s beautiful,” you said, “that makes so much sense,” but what’s left of you when there is no I?  So you swam backward in the sea of self and tried to grasp onto the familiar, to recreate what you had seen, but nothing was the same and neither were you.

You had twisted limbs, an uncertain scent and larger divides.

This is where the You began, the you that told the stories for you; that’s sitting here now grasping for the words of telling so that others can understand how it began.

How you reclaimed the unfamiliar and found the bound book that held only dialog and crayon drawings of stick figures trying to convey what you saw then.

How the pages were crooked and the spine weak; how to see such a thing was ugly; how you thought you were more but there you were.

But that’s all really, we are just our own enthusiastic telling, made in anger, made in truth, made with others eyes upon waiting to say, “there is just too much dialog.”

Hass En Honorarium

7 Feb

I have moved into his Hass; Hass has seduced me
I heard his name whispered in the rafters for years,
And my friend is laughing, she’s asking me,
“How many ways can you rift on words?”

I want to push her knee-deep in clichés, as
The dogs and cats rain around us, but instead
I say, “same song, different tune,” because
I don’t want to explain.

See Hass no one understands you I do,
Who else can hear Shakespeare in Whitman?
(we can his sing songs together)

Who else can frolic through pastoral leaves
that pepper the Vietnamese jungles,
causing colors so Brilliant they remind us
of the Fall.

Tell me,

Who else can fling out Greek odes
that honor the Romans?

No one can.

In my sleep, I dream of monsters standing
Next to my bed, and I think this is why
We are poets because we can see
What others don’t, the inter-connectedness
The criss/cross/crass beat of our nation

And I don’t sleep anymore, but who cares
Who cares, when history reflects back
An identity that we don’t want to own and
When I say, “Czelaw,” only you
Know that the brightness has forsaken my city

Hass, I love you.  I can’t count the ways; there are too many
And please, don’t tell me that today is
No different than a thousand yesterdays
We really are on the same page

Instead dear one, in-between the
Seam of you and me, and the pitter-pat
Of the black cat who lapped up
All the porridge, please,
please be.

Please be the beef that lets us all
Know, “how do you do it so good?”

Untitled – Poem WIP

6 Jan

I

I lived in the dark and came into the light.   The blinding, terrifying beam struck me, and so I went back down again, into the earthen mud and coated my face with it.  It was easier to see that way, it was what I had known.  The beam-like waves of illumination moved across the places that were clean.  The little bits of skin I had missed because my fingers trembled when I had stroked my face with dirt, fear, and all that I found comfort in.  Mud-streaked and face-naked, I lifted one arm toward the radiating light and let the heat pass through my fingers, allowing it to burn away the churning inside.

II

We rise again and again, shooting upward, while the ground tugs at our feet.  We crawl, belly-down through soot because the sky sits heavy on us.  It asks too much; that constant expansion, a remainder we are small.

We drop down because we cannot deny gravity’s demand, and are reduced.  It is easier to live this way.  In the back of our minds we know that giants walk among us; that they throw fire-balls of glory and we think we cannot grow so tall.

 

An Ode To College Drinking

28 Sep

We drank because we were happy because we were confused.  We drank because we got an A, or because it was football season.  We drank because we didn’t know what we wanted to do with our lives, but we knew what we wanted to drink.

We drank because it was Friday and that’s what you did on Fridays, we drank because it was fun.  We drank because our boyfriends didn’t love us; we drank for courage, for the hope of meeting someone.

We drank because it was snowing, it was Christmas or Thanksgiving and so we drank to celebrate.  We drank because it was time to graduate; we drank because we were going to get paid.  We drank because we were scared, and alcohol was always there to remind us of what we shared together, we drank to forget.

We drank for the memories of drinking; we drank because we’d never have this again.  We drank because we were turning one year older and now we were allowed to.  We drank to welcome one another to each other, we drank for community.  We drank because it was over, we drank to new beginnings.

We drank in the dark by the fire, we drank for Sunday brunch.  We drank because we were free to drink whenever we wanted to; we drank because we thought that’s what we were supposed to do.

We drank so that we’d have an excuse; we drank to take off our clothes.  We drank because we were going dancing; we drank because we didn’t want the night to end.  We drank because this was the only time in our lives that we could drink like this, we drank because it was the only time in our lives we were publicly permitted to.

We drank because it was cheap because we were sitting by the pool because that band was playing and we drank to enjoy them.  We drank because someone got engaged, because someone was going away, we drank because it was there.

We drank because we failed because drinking was the solution. We drank to be funny, we drank to fall down.  We drank to stand up on bars and hang from the lights strung up on the ceiling, we drank to get caught.

We drank to see if we could have one more, we drank because we had nothing to do the next day.  We drank because we had too many choices; we drank because we were overwhelmed.  We drank because we really weren’t sure of anything except drinking.

We drank because we were young because it was simple because we could do it with anyone at any time and find a reason for it.  We drank for whatever we were in that moment; we drank for what we were never going to be and what we might have.  We drank for expectation, for hope, for the whole of life that was cheering us on, saying, “yes, please, another one.”

Why I Think Art & God Have A Lot In Common

18 Sep

If there is such a thing as a soul, an intangible gathering of energy that lives on no matter the body (young, old, male, female) then I believe Art is the way it lets itself be known, compelling our bodies to create the inarticulate – whether with paint, clay, words or music.  Our ability to create objects that hold no purpose, other than to sit and be stared and wondered at, is what makes us human, as opposed to all other beings.

No other animal expresses itself through color or uses instruments to create harmony.  To me, this is our humanity: our compassion, our communal connection that weaves us together as people, and at times, I worry that art is no longer valued as it should be; that we will forsake ourselves because it is not logical, solves no problems and has no answers.

It just IS; Art is an is, yet it is an Is because as people we just exist, we don’t understand; we deep down long to know our purpose, but it is forever unknown to us, so on some level we will always be unknown to ourselves.

Art opens up our inner doors, and at times artists only intuit what they’re striving to express, and if asked, “Why?” some would say, “just because,” or as Monet famously responded, “I am trying to paint the air,” or, “I am trying to take what I know is all around me yet cannot see.”

Does that even make sense; that a living, breathing mammal chose to spend their life focused on a task that has nothing to do with their survival?

I believe that this is our gift; that it can elevate us to expand beyond our own selfish ego and pin-pointed, center-of-ourselves universe perspective.  This is why Art must be honored because all gifts are made up of honor and responsibility.

No other animals are offered such luxurious choices (to creation & expression), and while I’m not posing that other animals cannot have souls, maybe we are the only species lucky enough to be gifted with a purpose that is more than just survival.

However, I believe that if we do not honor our gifts, then a price will be paid, and (at times) I believe it is already being paid.  How many people are happy with the way the world is set up now; with constant communication coming from every corner, filling up all the silences that are a natural part of life?

How many people can connect with their soul in this current noise?  And to those who say, “But this is progress,” I say, “You are a fool not to acknowledge progression’s shadow,” for all light-bearing things cast them.

We, as humans, are so caught up in our own structures and systems that we forget what is divine within us, and I use divine consciously because Art requires the same devotion as God, to have faith in the illogical, to an activity that cannot be explained, but one that provides comfort, evokes emotion and breaks us out of our language, which is structure itself.

For what else is God-like, present yet unseen, sitting at the bottom of us, asking to be worshipped, asking to be honored and heard? What else helps us forgive ourselves for our humanity’s imperfections, what else can live on, telling our stories, speaking to others, representing us once we are gone?