Sunday, April 29, 2007


sometimes i get this feeling like i may never write another poem. i don't spend time contemplating that thought because it will freak me out. but i do acknowledge its presence and move on.

when picasso was asked which was his favorite painting, he said,
my next one.

that is the artist's sentiment exactly. i do adore what has come, but i eagerly await the next poem and the next poem. and the next. when time passes with nothing, it gets one to thinking the muse has finally packed her shit up and moved on for good.

it has been nearly a week since i've written any poems. i don't share them with but a handful of souls anymore, though i will read them to friends over the phone. they are too intimate for me to disseminate, and this is my cocooning. i realized this weekend as i called on friends who were not home that life does not wait. friends do not stand at the ready for such calls to come, nor can they be expected to. we all have lives. mine no more important than (or interesting, can i get an amen?) yours.

so i dwelt in my cocoon alone, wondering when poems, friends, whatevers would come again and bless me with their presence. and today, a rush came. words that are too honest for me to share with all but my inner circles.

i've been meaning to speak about pressure for some time now. last time the opportunity came up, i was too sad to do so. and so, remained silent.

the necessary pressure of an artist's life is, i have come to believe, essential. if i am not forced to create. if i do not build in some pressure situations, then i can just coast and set no deadlines for moving forward.

but if i've got an open mic coming up, and a roundtable to host, neither of which i will read works at repeatedly, i've got to write some new stuff. and so i do. the pressure demands i have built in to my life require me to produce.

these pressures can stifle, i'm sure. so my demands are more guidelines than rules. but they are there and i like to walk in to a room full of strangers and read something new.

my week begins afresh and i've got to make time for my artistic endeavors, whatever they may be, however small they may be, to nurture my creative child. she has been good to me, i must be good to her. and so i shall.

but let me not neglect the pressure that keeps me hopping to the next creative stone. i won't look for a place to land if i get too comfortable, this pressure ensures i do not.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

the place i go to be alone

i've been avoiding most company for quite some time now. most conversations leave me wanting. most words feel empty to me now, so i am trying to figure out what to do. i've not really known a place where words couldn't let off some of my grief. some of my confusion. some of my angst.

so now, as the day is too beautiful to be shut in, i will go sit beside the hudson and listen to the gulls piercing cries, the canada geese hissing and honking about whatever it is they happen to be squabbling about. a rowdy set, those.

i found myself there yesterday, with strangers packed all around. the first empty bench i came to was overlooking an inlet with mallards. i decided to keep walking and see what i could find. lo and behold, a guitarist was perched on a picnic table playing some distance away and the empty bench beside him and his friends was where i found my peace.

he was quite the fingerpicker, did a zeppelin riff that made me want to ask for more, but i was not a part of their powwow and so, held my peace. just listening to him sing and play.

i will go there soon, then off to work.

yesterday, i heard a mom and her twelve year old daughter squabbling in the store. i had wandered up to them while putting clothes away. they were pretty into it and had just entered the store. i had to step away to decide if i really wanted to be in the middle of that.

but they were getting no where except on each other's nerves. so i stepped in.

may i help you?

the mom lamented about how her daughter likes nothing, etc. and i heard her out.

i turned to the daughter and said,
what do you like?
and asked pertinent questions. about structured styles and unstructured, colors and fabrics. narrowing down some of her preferences. it is quite a daunting task to pick the "right" thing for a person you don't know.

so the girl lets me know what she likes and on a whim i grab a shrug. she is not opposed to it, so i weave her and her mother through the store, picking up complimentary pieces and saying,

we're not committing to anything, just finding out what you like.

they did not fight once, and when the mom would voice a preference the daughter did not agree with, i'd pick up both options and say,
we're not committing to anything, just moving in a direction.

that direction was to the fitting room.

in they went. i kept passing shirts over the door and heard them actually getting along in there. they opened the door for me to see, and showed me what they had chosen. i voiced agreement and they were all smiles.

i realize my agreement means little, but it helps to know an objective party agrees, i guess.

so, they check out and before they leave the mom tells me,
we've been looking for weeks and have only fought. thank you.

no problem. i have a daughter too. blessings to you!

and they left. quite satisfied. i felt like a mediator.

sometimes, in the mundane of my life, i get to light all the candles of the altar, lay hands on the sick and pray, snuff out those candles at the close of service and remove the vestments which shield me from the great power of altar ministry.

sometimes, i get to sit beside guitarists and waft away in delight. the very strings of my heart are what he played and i had forgotten the sound of them.

sometimes, it looks like hope will prevail.

Friday, April 20, 2007

telling secrets

my ny best friend and i are trying to do our morning pages, keeping each other accountable. but being homeschoolers, it never stops. if there was a definate departure point, the children walk to the curb and silence (or as silent as ny gets), then perhaps it would be easier. but these are not the lives we are living.

so, we finally sit down yesterday to write, and as soon as her butt hits the ground (she's a floor sitter like me), there is a knock on the door. a chatty visitor sits and talks about not much. i write through the visit. as soon as the chatty visitor leaves, a child returns home and is hungry. the pages were hit with the ink just barely, but then, poof. just like that, gone.

it's not like we sit around all afternoon when we're together doing nothing. i generally keep her company while she feeds various people (she's been feeding my people, which is incredibly kind. i hate to cook, but it's something i must get over).

so, when to fit in the pages?

i started vein of gold, committed to it. have i done it? not to the letter like i "should" but i've kept up with it in my heart. which sounds like i'm trying to get by doing nothing with some shmaltzy excuse, but i'm not really, because the book has helped me process some things i've been needing to process, but i'm not committing those things to paper as yet.

five secrets. that is the second thing i got stuck on.

the first thing was a narrative timeline. what a drag that is. writing about my life, as much as i can remember. this is a recurring theme, but i feel like i write so much about my life, here and in my poetry the point seems kind of lost. but i did make the commitment so i should stick to it, right? should. i hate shoulds.

well, i didn't. i just went around it. (it is what caused me to stall out last time i tried this book).

then i come to five secrets. to quote a line from a fine movie, sense and sensibility, damn the line just escaped my brain, but it is when kate winslet is talking to emma thompson,
we have no secrets, you because you confide in none, i because i keep none.
(or something). i shall have to get that quote right.

anyway, i don't feel so successful at keeping secrets because i'm always writing about my secrets. therefore, i have no secrets. (which reminds me of a piece i wrote some time back where i deliberately said, i have no secrets. but i do, we all do, truth be told.)

or so i thought.

but i've just been liberated from the idea of having to tell my secrets by the big deal poet i workshopped with recently who said,
there is nothing written that says you have to read everything you write.

amen to that. so maybe i can write about my secrets after all.

now, i've spent weeks thinking about secrets. what secrets do i have?

this recent chapter is about shaming. i can't recall ways my artist has been shamed, but i can recall being personally shamed. i've written about some of them. guess i've got to write some more. but this writing your way to healing is a very rough road. and i kind of want only easy paths at this point. but i see that is part of my problem.

i must shake the old girl and make her get up and walk those difficult roads. write about those secrets. and bring to light the remembered shame, so she can find the unremembered shame.

it is a new day, and i feel hope again. spring forces one to acknowledge life. and that is not entirely bad.

Monday, April 16, 2007

just go to bed

i can't. so here i am. blinking cursor, my confessor. how do i describe this place. why do i even try?

i read through a fist full of poems tonight, to sympathetic ears. those who could let me weep while i read and not expect a performance. those who could contain my sorrow and not ask me to pack it up. but offered me some of them, who they are, their words, their poems, their lives.

this is the great secret of poetry readings. we become intimates. we share our deepest fears and secret longings. we speak unguarded (to those who understand).

i was thinking about a friend from church, the lovely 84 year young helen who said she might make an appearance at my open mic, and i thought, wow, that would be something. to admit a frequent of my daily life to something so intimate as this. would it change what i will read? will it make me hide? likely not, i hope only for those braving the forum to have the trustworthiness to handle what they will hear.

marion woodman says,
someone must hold consciousness for a group.

i take that to mean, we are all not expected to hold consciousness. but one must.

so many questions. so many uncertainties.

i penned the words in my journal,
i'm certain

and nothing followed. which was possibly the most honest thing i could say. i'm certain of nothing. no thing. it had been that way for a while, and it is evermore that way now.

we step out with tottering steps, crossing what seems to be a chasm on a very thin line, uncertain of how we'll make it. trusting unseen hands to hold us steady. unseen wings to bear us up if we should fall. and fall we do.

or at least i do.

i spend more time muddied and bleeding than anything.

tonight as i read a poem about this phenomenon, at least one other poet said,
that is also my experience.

for that, i am grateful. that i could pen the words of another with accuracy. and that in our space of trust acknowledgement of that place could be shared.

i feel very alone these days. though i am often surrounded in spirit by many, it is hard not to feel alone. a room full of people has never been the answer to my isolation. only the presence of a soul willing to say,
this is my truth, is it also yours?

someone willing to sit with the uncomfortable truth and feel the sting of tears. unashamed.

i will go to bed now, but i don't know why. i just lie there. i guess sometimes, it makes sense to do a thing until it becomes normal again. sleep will return at some point. but for now, i watch darkness descend and wonder when it will be light.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


i'm feeling some of my old strength returning and after yesterday's read for a major poet, i am feeling quite good.

i went to a workshop for a huge poet yesterday, and it turned out that everyone in our group had done readings, so his speciality and focus was giving readings. much, much to say there as his experience over the past eleven years has been organizing the woodstock of poetry. very cool.

anyway, i had to read for him. it is not every day one stumbles in to the presence of this type of poet. i don't bother to introduce myself to poets before they hear me read because, as i've said so many times, introductions among poets mean nothing until they've heard you read. (or i've heard them).

so, time is winding down, he is very gracious and spending lots of time with people but i'm simultaneously aware that (1) they will yank him from the room at 12 sharp, (2) my meter is running out and i may get a ticket, (3) i have to read for this guy, and (4) it is 11:45. so i jam out to the meter, sprint to around the corner and down the block to pump quarters in.

i burst back into the room as quietly as possible but i'm out of breath and the guy who had just read is stepping down from the stage. the big poet looks around and says,
who's next.
i said,

so, i went up, and rather breathlessly read a poem i've written about a particularly difficult time in my early years. one that is incredibly graphic and damn good if i do say so myself.

the whole time during the workshop this major poet is saying,
it's something if the poet giving the reading can actually deliver the poem to the audience with power. make eye contact. let the poem have space to be.

i was dying for my chance.

and got it.

i read one poem, panting in some places, but my elocution suffered only slightly. and after he had a great deal of kind things to say.

the i hopped off the stage and a poet came up after me who seemed to be apologizing for being there. her demeanor, the way she read, the vibe she emitted was,
i'm sorry to take your time.

anywhoo, i told her after the read and we were alone, that i could not hear her poem, i was so affected by her presence.

be brave, unapologetic. take over the space and read. present your poem.
i told her.
you have as much right to be there as i do.

listen, we're all unique. we all have things to say and peculiar ways of saying them. your way and my way won't be identical and that is the best part of the whole deal.

let me hear your voice. let me hear your poetry. stop apologizing for it and tell me what it is you came to say.

that, my friends, is what makes for a powerful read.

Friday, April 13, 2007

this one is mine

yeah, i've been pretty down. but i've had moments when i laugh and enjoy myself. though they get away from me before i can capture them in words, i can look back and see some joy in the past weeks. like shafts of sun on a cloudy day, they are there, and stunning.

they brought in mirrors for belly dancing the other night, which was enough to make anyone laugh. usually, i practice at the gym (remember my gym is women only), so there is one wall that is a giant mirror and since it is the only mirror i really have access to on a regular basis, i do belly dance stuff when i should be doing other things.

at class though, i had on a new turquoise bikini i bought, ha! that's funny! went down a whole size in bikinis, why i own any should be enough to stump anyone, but suffice it to say, i do.

watching myself dance made me laugh. the teacher said,
a flamenco dancer would never have botox.

as she wrinkled her brow and scowled at us.

belly dancing and flamenco are very similar dance styles.
(which is good because flamenco is on my list of things to learn. huzzah!)

anyway, we're supposed to be making up our own dance in front of these mirrors. and the blocky little lady is in front of me, she was raking her fingers through her hair. just standing there. thrusting her hips around and the instructor walks over to me,
be sexy. do you have trouble being sexy? no, you've got that down.

i kept smiling and laughing though because scowling (unless it is at my husband) does not come easily to me. i guess the grief stuff could be part of my problem being sexy. i'm just too sad to be sexy. too sad to be much of anything. but now, i'm supposed to be making these seductive faces at myself, no less, in the mirror. and i just kept laughing.

do belly dancers wear glasses?
i asked my husband.


well, they do now.
again, i have to laugh.

so, the reason i'm dragging myself here to put words on the screen is because i've been told there are those who miss my posts.

i read this poem last night and it struck me as true in my life. a poem that i would normally take as being from one person to me, but i'm going to now apply it as from me to me. i've really had to take the love lead in my own life. to nurture myself. to find out what i want and go for it. it's hard to do when one has not known what a personal desire is. or the dreams, the many ideas, the wishes, have all languished when they have come to light--i guess it feels easier to stop dreaming, hoping, wishing. but it's not. it's a slow death of the spirit.

so this one is mine celebrates personal power, i guess you could say.

This One Is Mine
by Hafiz

Someone put
You on a slave block
And the unreal bought

Now I keep coming to your owner

"This one is mine."

You often overhear us talking
And this can make your heart leap
with excitement.

Don't worry,
I will not let sadness
Possess you.

I will gladly borrow all the gold
I need

To get you

Friday, April 06, 2007

tears my companions.

you are a poet?


do you have a poem i can read?

(i gave him bloodlust).

i am going to keep this, will you sign it for me.


let me buy you a coffee.

i'm okay.

we can have coffee and a conversation.

maybe tomorrow.

i'm here after ten.

yes. tomorrow.

light and sweet.


me, that is.

i laughed and drove away, to cry.

today ten o'clock came and i could not subject this kind stranger to my grief. i could not drown him in tears. so i drove to the gym, nearly blind. when will i have the courage to face a stranger. to let a stranger close to me again? those near me are only the ones who can touch me without breaking me. who can hear me without collapsing or demanding i pull myself together. those who can stand guard over the shadow of a woman who used to be me and who is not certain who she is anymore.

last night was a curious read, only myself and my dear friend were there to read, so i got to read an impromptu ten minute set. not the set i would have chosen had i known i would have time to read. but i did it. it went well. and i got home early.

i recited a poem to a man in the library (other than the man above), yesterday, and he blushed. it's a very sensual poem. and said,
i'll have to get that for my girlfriend.

yes. it will be in paterson literary review this summer
i said. and left.

i seem to withdraw into my containers these days. the places where i can let myself fall apart and be contained. i am going places i used to know, places that know me. sitting in chairs familiar around a few trusted souls who can abide with me during this time.

but today, i sit alone. and cry.

Monday, April 02, 2007

the secret

now if anyone in any book i'm reading tells me they are going to tell me the secret, to life, to losing weight, to whatever, i generally read with skeptical eye and find they had very little, if anything to say. i profess to have not much to say. absolutly not "the answer" to "the secret" but perhaps a bit of wisdom. perhaps a bit.

i started working out on january 20, scary numbers, those, from the day i first weighed in. (truthfully, the numbers aren't *that* different than now). but i've kept at it. when i didn't feel like working out, when i didn't feel good. when my monthly bill came and i felt like eating an ice cream sunday the size of a chevy. i didn't, instead i went to the gym. oh, and when i got really mad, really sad, and really confused, i went to the gym.

workout is really a great description of what is happening. listening to marion woodman she says,
the anger in the body, the grief in the body, the pain in the body must be worked out.

what she doesn't say is how to do this working out.

she doesn't give many suggestions other than dealing with dreams, as any true jungian analyst would.

i have found a little sweat and a whole lot of shimmy to be the key for me.

i've melted away some 23" of excess suz, and some 10 lbs. am i near my goal? no, i didn't really have a goal. i told the lady when i signed up, i want to stop jiggling. i'm not there yet.

but it's more than that. i want to stop trembling inside. i want to stop doubting myself. i want to stop devouring myself with negativity. i want to start making right choices, healthy choices for my life.

i've given up my occupation of couch potato, a familial plague, and taken on a part time job on the days when i was most inclined to do nothing. i am still, in a sense doing nothing, but at least i'm getting paid.

and, i actually, for the first time in a great while have a completely new wardrobe, purchased by me, for me, in my correct sizes (i had to rebuy stuff because i went down two sizes).

i'm not firing on all six mental cylinders at this point, due to the cloud of grief that still hangs over me. but i am pressing through the fog. taking my little cloud out into the world and opening my eyes. looking at what is there and trying to determine my place in it.

i stood at the crest of a hill today, overlooking a valley, stables and horses everywhere (it is a horse ranch), and one fat hawk in the tree. a corral of shetlands, some other full size brown jobs my daughter can name but i cannot), and thought, this is what i need. open space, silence. beauty.

what will it take to get me there?

at the gym for the past two months i've been the top loser. 8 inches in february, 15 inches in march.
what is your secret
the attendant asked.

working out five days a week. i do tai chi and belly dancing in addition to this.

the collective faces of the listeners diminished and said,
bless your heart.

we always want an easy road. a miracle pill. some magic elixir.

but the truth of the matter is, there is no other secret than,

hard work.

doing the hard work of grieving. doing the hard work of working out. doing the hard work, whatever it means.