Sunday, January 31, 2010

conspicuous absence

so, i'm not down to the wire yet. i still have a good forty eight, let's call it, twenty four hours to write these two papers that are hanging over my head. i've read tons, i've got the poems picked out, i went to write, arguably before i was ready, but i sat down and nothing. nada. zip. zilch. ouch.

so, i'm going the other direction, shelving the whole project and either watching a movie or taking a nap. the middle of the night has been fruitful for me. and i just can't even think right now. maybe that's my problem.

dishes need to be done too.

i could do that, it's very zen for me.

but i'm tired. to rest.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

severed arms

i have thought to cut it off, to let it go, the one that holds you to me. clings to you. you have warned me. i've bent it around in my mind, studied it from every angle, and i don't fear pain. that's my problem. i've been through so much of it in my life, that i value experience and people to a fault.

i have to reconfigure my thinking though. i can't be completely open any longer if you believe the things you said to me. i guess that's what i need to know. do you actually believe what you said? if you do, that's the answer. i have never entrusted myself to those who doubt me, and i won't start now. i can't.

so i will continue to believe my instinct is right, my gut is true, and it will tell me what course to take. as yet, i'm still undecided.

why does it matter?

pain comes to us all. sorrow knows me by my first name. and i have lived, thrived in the midst of it.

do i want that kind of challenge now?

not really. i'm tired. i want to rest. i want to shelter. but that doesn't mean i do so exclusively, or that those who are my greatest allies will not cause me pain.

perhaps that is where i'm wrong. perhaps you are not among my greatest allies, but that will reveal itself in time.

i can't know from this moment what the future holds. i've never professed foresight. i can only know, i'm not afraid of you. i have not been hurt by you. i don't mind standing up to you, and gathering up your scattered selves. i have done it for many other souls, and they have repaid that kindness. what makes this any different?

am i a fool? yes, but that goes without saying.

do i trust? the answer i keep coming to, for the moment, is yes.

the moment is all i know. the moment is all i understand (if that).

so, i will not sever the arm that holds you, i will not maul myself to keep from some future pain. i will be the fool i am, have always been and trust.

Monday, January 25, 2010

steady girl

i'm still struggling with learning how to take care of myself. i so easily put others first that i forget me. that is changing.

tonight i saw a few members of my ex's congregation, the word is out that i work nearby, and they parade through on occasion. tonight i saw one of my girl's little friend's parents. i said to them,
hi i'm her mom.

they said in their awkward eurpoean way. they never seemed too fond of me and just served to confirm that those people were never for me.

further confirmation came later when i was leaving work and ran into yet another of the church members, but this one has always been kind to me. the one person i would willingly talk to at gatherings where i mostly sat alone reading.

she said. a wide beautiful grin on her face.
how are you?

great, you?

fine. you look amazing.

thanks, i would like to take my girl around that church but they were never for me.

you're right,
she said,
it's hard not to take sides.

and the way it is, i can't trust her to anyone not soundly on my side. life is hard enough without having willing detractors.

it's curious that these people keep coming to my work and talking to me. sometimes they ask about my girl. sometimes i show them recent photos. but mostly, they are not my people. they are strangers. i am wary. and apparently, rightly so.

so i must continue to trust my instinct. it is good.

so many things on my mind. i just got off work and want to rest now, so i shall.

peace. out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


i know something about obsessions. i realized the difference between where i work and the licensed stores is the level of ocdism going on. the real whacked out ocd people are in the actual stores. you have to have some kind of ocd to be able to tolerate the mindnumbing tedium combined with the otherworldly demands this job puts on you.

yesterday i went in with raccoon eyes. i wore dark eyeliner and scowled at my coworkers (not all of them, just the ones i knew were talking shit). because i'm tired of it. i don't just let that shit slide by and it comes to me that the person who pressed me so hard until i lost it, and then cried, was just talking shit. or at least that is the line i'm getting. but who to trust? who do you trust when you think you know a thing?

i have talked to nearly everyone now, definately to those i respect most. and they say,
they look at me astounded at the line i was sold, and say,
that's crazy.

which helps, in some small way, because i didn't believe it to begin with. first of all, i have an oldschool work ethic, which means i work circles around just about everyone. so for anyone to say i'm not doing my job is madness. sheer madness.

the guy says,
look at it from my perspective everyone is complaining to me.

i said,
look at it from my perspective, you're the only one giving me shit. every time we work together.

he didn't say anything after that because it's him. it's all him.

i blew up, which i was trying not to, but after two hours of being slighted and picked on by someone who thinks they are doing you a favor by being "honest" --then i left in tears because i couldn't hold it together anymore. it was just too much for me.

so, to my obsessions.

i have come to understand that i am a poet.

news to all i'm sure. but as such, i need a muse. do i want a muse, not necessarily. but i need one. do i look for a muse, no. but i'm always open to one. do i find them? hell yes.

my current muse is like my other muses in that they find themselves under camera eye. they are the center of my intense scrutiny, hear obsession.

that this is taking place during my semester, that i've watched the entire thing unfold and fought it, grappled with it, written about it, lived it. is something profound for me, because i don't want to just be a quivering mass of reaction. i want to weild my power. to harness it.

at the moment, my power sometimes weilds me.

when this was going down during residency, i came to a moment when i was pacing the floor saying, can i do this? do i want to do this? this is vulnerability. this is weakness.

(and by weakness i do not mean frailty. i mean, i am intentionally leaving myself open to an emotional subset--my god i sound like an academic.)

this is also strength, and who am i to forego now for what may come. consequences be damned, is what i ended up deciding. which is what i mostly go with. i like to live.

so i did.

so i do.

and now, consequences.

i am inside of me with a muse who may or may not want to be there or that. which leaves a profound dilemma. pursue the work, or defer to the person.

i try, i really do try to defer to the person, but sometimes, the work comes. i don't stop it. i don't try.

and i realized this too, what i've always known, but i must write people out of my system. that once they are in, there is no other outlet than my words. here. in poems. on the page. until i pour them out, they simmer in my mind, in my heart. can i stir the pot and make it worse? certainly. that's a given.

but what i'm trying to learn now is how to let go.

the delicate art of letting go.

i often think i've got it down, as inclined to leaving, as inclined to walking away as i am. but how do you let go of something, someone you want to keep? how do you grapple with your process and separate the person out?

i don't know.

hence the grappling.

i am obsessive by nature, but my obsessions are more the emotional entanglements, the mental diversions i so enjoy. i said to my muse,
i am going to relive things, it is how i write about them. so it's going to get rocky.

i do not say this lightly. i do not say this easily. it is not something i do willingly, but some part of me wants to forego the writing because i don't need to trap the muse.

i have never walked away from a muse like this before. never said,
here you are. rattling around in my heart and mind, get the hell out.

never, that is, until the works have come, the process has largely had its run.

but now, now i'm trying to separate out the living from creating. they are two distinctly different realities and while the source material was fun, i'm not sure it is healthy for me to spend much time in it. thinking about it.

i'm trying to learn to take care of myself.
that is the conclusion of these dilemmas for me.

how can i be most gentle with myself and preserve my heart and mind.

there will be other muses, to be sure. i understand that now.

but what do i do with this?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


i don't know if you'd call it brave, so much as i'm compelled to do this. to go here. to enter these places. i've been awake most of the night, my mind awash with poetry. my heart pounding. this doesn't happen every day. sometimes it feels like i'm a fish swimming in poetry, emotion, they are the same to me.

i try to explain it, but it's hard to describe. and my subjects divide men.

this is not my issue to sort out. my job is to write.

do i do what i do for poetry. no. but i write poetry from my life. from the feelings. from the experience.

when someone finds themselves in my works, in my life, i say,
this is how it happens for me.
and they look around and say,
i see.

because it is something to be completely caught up in poetry.

it's probably a bad thing.

but i cannot, would not change it now. for anything.

i said last night,
i am completely me. this is who i am.

i understand.
she said.

but it doesn't make it any easier to be around, as my best friend told me. fortunately, i find those people who don't arc out on emotion like i do. unfortunatly i find those people who don't arc out on emotion like i do.

what's the answer? how do i fix this?

i don't know that it's broke. i don't know that i'm not exactly where i'm supposed to be at the moment.

i don't know where i'll be tomorrow. but today, i'm here.

and the world is awash with poetry.

and i am going where i was once afraid to go.

i never ask anyone to come along, i leave the doors open all along the way. i know others can't abide my journey, that is so okay.

but i must go.

do you hear me.

i must. go.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

wild nights

so, i've been through the ringer today. and it was not without vengeance that i left my store. some people push me until i explode. and so, i did.

no other way to frame it.

then i called my friend and flew to her.

how these women hold me together. make me feel sane. remind me that i am sane.

now i need to hole up, hide away for a while. recover. rest.

not so easy in the line of fire at work, but i'll be all business. won't show my hand. though i don't intend to be pushed around.

the thing about it is, the one who pushes me is the one i most enjoy. why is that the case?

i don't want this now. i don't need this.

time for bed. it's been an exhausting day. in so many ways.

Monday, January 18, 2010

brave facades

i have tried, every way i know how, to exude strength. to own my power. to be a reactor--nuclear, mostly. at least it's how i feel. but there is some part of me that is still tied to things long gone. to dreams dead and all but buried. and those things must end. i know they must. it is time.

i just wrote a huge poem for my journey. the goodbye.

now the balloon sails out of grasp and i must let it go, not wishing it return, but looking away, ultimately, before it fades from view. i must let go. i must.

i've been stuck for so long in what was, what could have been, that i have foregone living. i have not wanted life.

but i want it now.

so, while the memory is still fresh, i say it again. goodbye. thank you.

for everything you have been to me. for everything that never was but was so beautiful and lifegiving. for everything i am now, largely because you asked me what i wanted.

there is a debt here i cannot repay. i don't even try.

i know living is what you wanted most for me, and so i shall.

tearfully, joyfully, willingly, i shall.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

the big news

when one has more to do than one can handle, what is the smartest thing she can do? sign up for more to do? absolutely.

while i'm just starting my semester, lots of good things happened at my residency. among them, i've been offered and am accepting a position coordinating a literacy program for a few months. this is huge. it feels like a doorway into my field. i must do this. the issue is, they are going to have to squeeze into my very tight schedule. and i can't apologize for that. it simply is.

i must make the most of my time and get the reading out of the way asap. writing comes after that, and the poems, well, they are on their own schedule. though, this semester i am revising works, so i can just regurgitate works from my book, which may be the path i go. i simply cannot do all, and since the focus is revision, let's revise.

i gave a reading during the week of my residency, only three minutes, like everyone else. but they were three rockin' minutes. i realized as and after i read that i could revise what i was performing. and so i shall. i have enough distance now, that i can do this.

again, so much to do. must be about it.

peace. out.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

good things

i know, it's so martha. but it's nice to finally say it. even with all the bullshit of life, it's nice to have moments when i can say, it's all good. sure, i try to say this often, but it doesn't come easily. i have a dark streak.

so many wonderful things happened during my residency, it's hard to wrap my mind around them all. i'm home. have been home for a couple hours. my baby just got on her flight and i am doing laundry. excitement city over here. but rest is good. i've rested some, but if you've had any experience with dorms you get it.

have my semester dates, i'm ready to roll. now to get down to business, but first, i have luggage everywhere.

Friday, January 08, 2010

begin again

i didn't make a new year's resolution, i forgot. this was not my typical year, and i have been busy doing other things. maybe somewhere down the road it will come up, but it feels the moment has passed and i didn't have one, so i didn't make one. don't like tradition anyway, gets too predictable.

begin again was the mantra for last year. don't remember if i had a resolution then either, it was a difficult time for me. now, it's not so much difficult as different. engaging in pleasurable ways.

what's to come?

not sure. i will begin with a mentor who was not my first choice, but that is fine. i'm cool with it. i had resigned myself to fate and wanted to see the mystery unfold. and so it will. it always does.

i've been writing a lot, and again i have to decide whom i can trust with the most delicate stories of my life.

i feel that way about every poem i write, it's not just these, but these are new poems, so it is a new question. residency has been very prolific for me in that sense. sure i wrote a few poems last time, but these, well. these are something else entirely.

one poet encouraged me to leave off punctuation entirely. to forego it in my works and use line breaks as my primary means of slowing the reader.

it's difficult,
i said,
i've tried it before. but i'm not there yet. but thank you for believing i could be.

i will leave off here. it's a time for me to be in my life, not about it.


Monday, January 04, 2010

apprentice i.

there is something to be said for intrigue. there is something to be said for mystery.

i am better able this residency to pace myself, socially, emotionally, artistically, physically for the rigors, the strength trials if you will that are presented. i understand more about the process now and have come to set my grievances aside. not forego them, they are my struggle, my personal battle, but to get the education i am paying for. to ask for the help i need. to be vulnerable and allow myself to be the student.

i am no master here. i am apprentice.

while i do what i do with my own solid flourish, i am not the published author with a list of credits as long as my arm. i keep turning over the question, do i want that? is it what i desire? publication.

i keep answering no.

the rub is, credentialed poets, as part and parcel of their chosen fields must publish.

i told a poet dearest to my heart of my plan to found a small self-sustaining arts cafe where i will host workshops and give readings. is this the highest use of my gift. is my lack of personal drive toward publication blinding?

are there not those stories of writers whom publication finds? the sought out.

as my best friend contemplates a master's program i made this confession in response to her barrage of questions.

i did not find my master's program, my master's program found me.

by following the course directions of those i trust, i am given just the next piece of the puzzle. i set it in place and the image begins to form. do i know what the image is, no, but i can follow the contour of the back, the windswept mane, and know i can see more clearly now than i could. that is progress.

so it is with my life, so it is with my works. i was told by my current workshop leader that my poems have a strong i. this strong i is the center of a book, the connective tissue i would call it.

yes, i said. acknowledging what i knew to be true.

workshop progresses much the same as before, i know my work is solid. the reasons i do what i do may not be understood by all, but they are, in the end, understood by those who matter. this workshop leader gets my works, and that is something. i did not know coming in if she would.

i am playing it humble this time around. the poet i love best said,
there is no drama this time, it's almost boring.

and i laughed.

we are all at ease with one another. no one is out for blood, there is no reason to be. the critique is much improved. and i am grateful.

as we filed out of the welcome session, by graduating semesters, i realized, i am the only poet in my class and the last of the new poets. what will happen when this latest batch goes, three gone after next residency. then three more. i got sad. one is leaving this time.

i will be alone.

but a fellow poet whom i adore said,
i will be skipping a semester and graduating with you.

this pleased me. i will not be alone then, and, i will have a companion for the journey as those i love best are leaving next residency, i will have two remaining residencies without them.

but i try not to let that taint now. they are here with me. and i, them.

we are artists together. and have one week to savor it.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

six armed again

just finished perhaps one of the most powerful conversations of my life. not only because it is what i want, but because i could feel the power of it. the presence. that matters to me. no, i may not get my way, but what must be will be. that which is mine will come to me, i believe this.

i limped onto campus and drug myself around trying to smile, but there isn't much, wasn't much to smile about. not that i'm upset or angry, just off somehow.

a friend said to me,
i'm helping reattach your arm.

which made me smile. the six armed again.

and today, in this conversation, that conversation arose.

how does she evolve?

how do i evolve?

sometimes, i think when i talk about myself as poetry, this seems somehow contrived. or at least it would appear to be the case. but it was nice to be heard and understood by someone who appreciates my work. who understands what i'm doing. who is wanting to help me evolve.

there is so much to say. but i am, in a sense, humbled and overwhelmed by the experience.

how does trust diminish?

it doesn't.
i said,
because i don't trust but a few people and once they have it, they have it.

that's the thing. i am very, highly selective about who and where i entrust myself. but when it's done, it's done. is it always right, usually. very few times have i been proven wrong.

this perplexes my best friend,
you seem to know who to trust.

i just wait for the right people to come along.

and they do. they always do. because i don't think we're bouncing along inconsequentially in this life. while i no longer attach the meanings i once attributed to it all, i do believe there are reasons for what happens.

trust is essential.

do you trust?

no. what do you trust?

i just trust. it's not focused on any person place or thing, it is just an attribute of my being. i trust.

how does this trust land on the right spot, the right person, the right moment?

i don't know.

it's a mystery. i'm still trying to figure it all out.

i don't need to see where the road ends,
i told her,
i just need the next step. i have the next step. and to get to that step, i have to finish the work of this one. and i will finish it, i said, because i'm a hard headed determined woman.

i can't explain it, but it was nice to be asked, to be considered for all that i am. to have someone sit with me and say,
tell me about your process
and not judge it, to ask clarifying questions and lead me down a path that demonstrates the how and why of what i do. i have been trying for a great while to articulate the how of what i do, but i'm just so familiar with it that i hardly have the words.

i will do whatever you tell me to do,
i told her before we left.

it's not up to me, ultimately.

i know, but know, that exhaustion is conspiring to make me a very willing student. i need someone hard on the rudder.

i have been forewarned by another student to be careful what i ask for, but, this is the task before me. i understand there are a set of tools for me to lay hold of, that this program is about equipping writers, broadening their base, as it were.

i want to evolve.

i'm ready for whatever comes. however hard it is. i will do it.