Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Night is Long (Three Parts)

Part I

I think of your body
in the night
and hold the open space
beside me.
I yearn to be stitched
into the soft flesh
of a lover, held in arms
like the great expanse
of an open field.

I long for the shared rhythm-
inhale and exhale of your chest,
long golden hair
in my fingers-
dishes and mouth and arched
backs pushing up against the kitchen sink.
I sigh-
all night

Part II

I could sleep
in your arms
whereas I was never able before-
Before- always restless,
always waking up in the dark tangled
in sheets, needing to untwine
and extract myself, exasperated-
pleading with the pink morning to slide back
between the crack of curtains

but with you
I could sleep deeply
wrapped in your arms, our bodies solid-
anchored- the center held still
for a moment-
neither living in the past, nor the future.
Fixed in the present- in your arms
all night

Part III

I cut off my hair
in grief
for you
to reinvent myself as a bird,
to adorn myself as a bird,
to be free and admired and all the things
I do not want to be-
I cut off my hair
in grief for you

and now I feel it
in the night
and wish I could comb it out-
comb out the long tangled waves
over and over again
with a peacock jeweled comb
in front of grandmother’s mirror
and grow out my hair in the night- long-

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The unsuccessful sleep dance method of writing

I want very much for my writing to be funny. To have a dark humor that edges on satire and prods the world’s ego into being more loving while laughing at itself. I want to write like Anne Lamott but when I try, not only does my writing start to sound incredibly melodramatic and whiny, like I imagine her very own shitty first drafts must sound, but worst of all, inauthentic. It’s just not me. My own voice tends to be much more serious with the occasional a glimmer of hope or simple beauty. In those moments, I have to be careful not to over work and strip the life out of it, or to egg it on too desperately like an over-extended and plagiarized Mary Oliver poem. All in all, it is challenging for me to sound like me and sift though the layers to hear my own voice, a voice which I barely recognize as my own and which I always greet skeptically. It’s like I know my voice is the not so cool girl at the party that hovers like a pelican over the dessert table without anything interesting to say. I don’t want to try to engage her in any kind of laborious small talk because she is clearly a handful. Instead, I try to fraternize with the cool kids and then steal their lines but do not manage to have the same comedic timing to sound uproarious or shocking. Instead, the stolen lines lumber out of my mouth second hand like a white elephant gift passed around the circle too many times.

The truth is, I always do my best writing at night. This is infuriating because I am forced into this dance where I flop around like a dead fish, finally get comfortable, drift into sleep, and then a line or image comes to my mind I have to get up, find a pen and my journal and scribble it down in my most illegible handwriting. But often these are the ideas with traction. For some reason, when I try to sit down and write in the morning, all I produce are lists and the most dull reflections of work or eating too much food, or needing an oil change for which I will never schedule an appointment. On the other hand, my late night mind produces sentences that flow together, carry some weight and interest and so I have to write them down while feeling peevish because I am tired and want to sleep like a normal person, and write like a more normal person during more normal hours. The reality is that all my good ideas come on occasions that are incredibly inconvenient to writing: the middle of the night, while showering, or driving. I have, however, halfway succeeded at writing down a drippy poem from the bathtub, and lesson plans on napkins between stoplights.

The only way I can make sense of this phenomenon is that my subconscious feels free as I drift toward dream world and my adult ego is too tired to fight my creative self back into her box. It is the time when my control freak, list-making, hyper-vigilant self has her guard down and is vulnerable and my writer self launches into surprise attack mode. Just tonight, I was talking with my roommate Adam, telling him about surviving day three of a monster head cold. I took a hot shower, purchased soup, Kleenex, and chocolate, picked up a mountain of DVDs from the library, went to an acupuncture appointment, and got quarters for laundry. This is a significant feat for someone as under the weather as I currently am. I explained my “back to full health in one day plan” while steaming my face with a bowl of hot water and towel over my head, breathing in eucalyptus oils and commenting on their anti-microbial properties. Suddenly, Adam blurted out that I was the most “fucking proactive person he has ever met” and we both broke out into laughter. It is true and kind of crazy. I made sure to mention that this quality has not always charmed my previous lovers.

So this is all I can figure. When I am wildly tired, my mind goes to a place that my proactive adult self will not permit it to go to during the day. This is the reason behind my restless sleep-writing dance that results in getting all twisted up in sheets, dark circles under my eyes, and a pissy attitude the next morning. One unfortunate thing about this process is that I am high maintenance about sleep. I am not one of those people who can get five or six hours of sleep and be fine. I am notably not fine. I become a deeply unpleasant person, sassy and grumpy, prone to emotional breakdown, and binge eating. It is the equivalent of my traveling while sick self, or hangover self, or being around little untrained children for too long self. My nerves wear thin and Jesus begins to look amused, but no longer applauds my behavior.

As you may begin to figure, I do not recommend my system for establishing a writing practice. This sleep-writing dance, as I will here after call it, simply does not work in my best interest, or perhaps more accurately, in the best interest of those around me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Poems from of old-

I Sit and Look Out

I sit and look out at a field of blooming faces,
wildflowers of many colors
planted in the soil of creaking desks,
shining under the buzz of fluorescent lights.
I sit and look out at Afros and braids,
buzz cuts and hijabs
and wonder,
What is keeping all the majestic gold
from spilling out?

I sit and look out at morning pencils moving
across the page and feel the energy
between us like the secret sign
language of branches moving in the wind.
I sit and look out at dusty brick walls,
graffiti tags, flat brimmed hats, black eyeliner
and am carried along in the current
of being young and alive.

What I Remember at The Land

I remember rows of sunflowers, explosions of gold,
prickly green stem arching upward like the neck of a giraffe.
I remember looking into the eyes of fresh morning light.
I remember walking barefoot, fertile black humanity squishing
between my toes.
Each morning, a baptism:
pools of crystal gathered on leaves and petals.

I remember air.

Breathing in a new way. Taking it in, exploding inside-
Pure Eden high.
I remember the rusty red Honda rolling on moonlit gravel.
Laying down to watch the fiery orbs above.
Being blanketed in velvet blackness,
held in the cradle of the Universe.

I remember resonating- harmonizing-
with the glowing incantation
and feeling
like I was levitating,
like the taste of my first kiss,
like I belonged.

Inner Child

She yawns like an old dog
by a grandfather clock after a long
summer day. She’s all buzz and glistening dew
of a mermaid on shore;
Flushed and rosy as a dolphin docked.

She chews on pocketed Cheese-Its
and slurps cran-apple elixir poured
to the split perfect sipping spot.
She is dirty nails and compost worm bin,
creaping and crawling through the ruffled leaves
of backyard woodpiles and flag post pansies.

On dark nights she’s screeching eagle strong
and bare bosomed Greek goddess
clamping victory to her chest
against night terrors and sweat binding tremors.

She’s brave-
like eating miracle whip
off a bloated summer slug.

Monday, February 14, 2011

December 2, 2010

On Being an Average Woman, Alone

I sip spiced cider

with a friend

Thanksgiving day

and tell her how cold

the winter is, how hard

it is to feed myself, how I feel

the loss now

that I cut

off all my hair.

Her face is a quiet lake as I speak.

She cups everything in her hands

and whispers strange

wisdom- the kind

that makes no sense

and must be true.

She said her grandfather

often told his eldest daughter

“I want you to learn to conform

so that when you have to

it is your choice

not your curse.”

I imagine this parable is spoken

for me. Birthed into existence in this exact

moment so that the translation can echo

in my ears.

It’s okay to let the fields lay fallow.

To be dormant for a season.

To let the compost pile rest,

and enfold upon itself.

To come home from work,

eat dinner, do dishes, go to bed early.

Get up and do it

over again.

I don’t have to fear

being average




with myself.

My soul will not get sucked

into the TV and

it does not have to be done


or now.

I can practice the great mystery

of the season:



lay down

the restless striving

and know

When it is time

to grow-

I’ll grow.

The bulbs far underground

always know

the time

to get up.