Thursday, April 28, 2011

stranger things

it's hard to find words for the past two days. they have been unlike any i have ever lived. and i was present to them. the ups, the downs, the inbetweens. i would like this to be my norm, staying with what comes. welcoming those who cross my path and trusting myself to know how to take care of me.

some moments, when the tulips are in fullbloom and the riot of spring is in full swing, it is easy to trust. yesterday was one of those days. today, i had to choose to trust. and so i did. and so i do. even now. mindfully.

there is much yet for me to do. i have a young daughter to shepherd. a slew of poems yet to write.

there is much yet to do. may i do it with the abandon of yesterday, that carried into today. when i chose to believe. i choose to believe in this moment.

i am beginning to believe there are no accidents, no missteps, no wrong turns. only adventures to be had. enjoy them. when sadness comes, weep. in its own way, this is enjoyment of sadness.

i was asked yesterday,
why did you start belly dancing.

and i threw my head back and laughed.
it was the age before sorrow.

i explained to her what i meant, and she looked me in the eyes, stricken, and i said,
it's alright. it wasn't then, but it is now.

you see loves, whenever i have abandoned myself to a moment. to fully embrace the depths of it, the heights of it, the darkness of it, the light, some growth has occurred, without exception.

so even when sadness comes, i open my arms to embrace it.
joy is not the only guest at my table. and when you get to know them, intimately, like any stranger come a callin' they become friends.

when sorrow, who has finally sojourned on, comes again to visit, i will welcome him. for i know him, intimately.

when joy flits off and leaves me as it has so many times before, i will see it as a season, a wintering, when demeter cries, and persephone must be out of sight. spring will come again. so too, joy.

but for now, for now, these curious bedfellows, these delights, these trials.

we are getting to know each other's face and name.

and it is good to have goodness for an extended stay. that is a coveted guest, but i have spent copious amounts of time with sorrow, and understand, this is also a guest who must come, must stay, and in time, only in sorrow's own time, take leave.

i understand this now. and i welcome them all, seasons, friends, lovers.

and i begin to believe, there are no enemies.

only strangers we do not yet comprehend.

Friday, April 22, 2011

hear me, hear me

it looks like i'm on tap friday night of my final residency. that is when i will be giving my fifteen minute reading. i get to teach my class the first day we are there, nothing like getting things out of the way, then i have two other classes i will commit to going to and i'm free and clear. i may show up for other classes, but i doubt it. i'm just not into it. not even into pretending i'm into it.

when i graduate, i will get my diploma and drive my ass home that night. i don't want to hang around there any longer than i have to. i can't wait to graduate. can't wait.

that will begin the next leg of our heroine's journey. the one in which she sets off for a very long, month long visit to california. she may, in fact, believes, she will be taking in a writer's conference for a week out of that month, but other than that it will be a lot of reconnecting time. for her and her sister. can't. wait.

my graduate lecture on contemplative writing will take place on friday, july 8, 2:45 in Halden Hall Room 139

so if you find yourself in chestnut hill, ma, july 15 at 5:30pm, that's when i'm on tap. reading from my creative thesis, bleed easy. at least i think i'll read from that. i may go another way, but it's a long time off, and we'll probably have a chat before then.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

i could write

a lot of poems about you,
i said.
don't know that anyone really understands what that means. but when i get someone in my blood, in my veins, in my mind, i have to exorcise them through poetry.

i've come to understand it is just who i am. what i do. i am sure it can be disconcerting to newcomers. who writes poems anymore? who writes love poems? what does any of it matter?

it doesn't really but that is not why one writes poems, for the great weight they will bear. one writes poems because one must. it is all i say to explain it. there is no monetary value, but poetry is the only thing i value. i will continue to do what i do because it is who i am.

and when my mind lights up with the face or name or thought of someone, i will write it down.

a friend said to me,
you must not write anymore poems and share them with anyone.

she meant well, was trying to protect me. but i think it would do me more harm to stop the flow than to deal with the repercussions of my outpouring.

poetry is dangerous. remember that.

i have much still in me. this pleases me to know. that the well has not run dry, not been tapped out by so much talk of craft.

i neglected to mention the craft,
she said.

no worries,
i reassured her,
i don't put any stock in it.

craft is not why i write or even how i write. which reminds me of a lecture i'm listening to which said,
craft is an ad hoc approach to something written, rather than a way to approach writing.

i so agree.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

hot jello

sometimes when i write a poem, i tremble inside. because it is so honest. so much where i'm at. it's frightening to be so honest when the response will be unknown. it's a bit like jello before it's set. very liquid, not much of a solid. but you can't float shit in jello without the hot liquid stage. i'm sure there is some technical term for this.

right now i'm steaming hot jello and i need some time to cool. but what i do is i go back to the poem, i read it aloud to a friend. send it to my faithful poets, and see if i would do the same thing again. generally, i would. even if it were to be the end of something, a relationship. a job. whatever, it is not without me stating my ultimate truth. from that place alone do i advance.

so, i did it again, spilled it all out there, splayed my chest and revealed myself.

and sometimes, it's a bit scary, but not a boogie man scary, just a vulnerable, i must do this kind of scary. like a hermit crab venturing out for a new shell. he's outgrown the last one, has to find a new one. it must be.

i outgrow a lot of shells. that's all i'm saying.

but it is the way of hermit crabs. they don't finally move into one for good. they have to keep looking, it's who they are.

it's who i am.

so i've shuffed off another poem.

and i'm looking to settle into the next. until then, i'm defenseless. but i have learned how to live this way. it is essential to my work. the poems present themselves, even unformed, and i crawl in and live a while with them. get to know them. until they tell me who they are.

and for a while, it feels like home.

and i am safe.

where does sunday find you

i'm still in my pjs on my best friend's couch. she ran out to do something, and i'm whittling away at the minutia of my life. things that must get done at some point. calendar splayed beside me, poems stewing in my brain, projects to accomplish. it's all there, waiting for me. the thing about it is, it will get done when it gets done. for the moment, i want to sit and write.

i live my life with no expectation. i'm told this is a very evolved way to be. i'm not entirely sure how i maintain it, or how i arrived at it, it just is. i don't try to understand it, i'm just grateful for it.

now if i could stop acting out when i'm angry, since i've recently gotten back in touch with my anger, i'd sure love to find some way to deal healthily with my angry responses. how does one begin to process reaction. i'm not entirely sure. i've tried clipping the blue wires, and the green, the red one must be respected. and that the timer starts counting down again on occasion, troubles me. i've done all i know how to do to disable the destructive features of my life. but there is still that viable connection to anger. at least it's not rage anymore. though i do get hot sometimes, i don't rant like i used to.

trying to drive better too. sometimes, i think the things that happen are wakeup calls. we must heed them. my little fender bender was the universe saying,
pay attention.
so i shall try. to be present to my car, my driving, the way i am to the rest of my life. maybe this, too will help with the irritations i sometimes feel behind the wheel.

being humbled, as i was when i clipped the suv, i kept apologizing and wishing it could have been different. but all told, it was what it needed to be, i guess. i think all that happens is what need happen. for us to grow. to learn. to change.

i'm trying to be a mindful driver. it took a fenderbender for me to realize that.

i did acquire a piece of art this weekend, and it is leaning up against the table, i just can't stop looking at it. i guess that means it was meant to be mine.

the valkyries, warrior horsewomen of norse tradition. this is the kind of thing i want my daughter's eyes to glimpse every day. the kind of thing i want to see. it moves me, beyond words. that is what i call soulful art. one that inspires.

Friday, April 15, 2011

from the editor's desk

i will spend the day in the editor's chair at the paper i'm freelance reporting for. what a rush. i will be editing the entire tuesday edition, and today is where i begin lining up me duckies.

there is no apprehension about it, just joy. i'm ready for this, i've been ready for this. now i get to do it.

my editor says my work is

he's a creative writer too, so we are coming at this thing from the same vantage point. it's exciting.

i was walking to the bus stop yesterday to pick up my girl, and on the way back we noted a small slithering

he had been there who knows how long. it took all his might to get to the edge of the road, i'm sure,
so i bent over and picked him up. his tongue lolling to the side, his entrails slightly protruding, i knew he would not last long. but if anyone could help him, my neighbor could, she owns a snake.

alas, his wounds were fatal. and he took his last breaths in my hands. his little body struggling to breathe. i gave him a cool drink of water before he died, then set him on a rock to bask and make the transition to the next life. my daughter and i drummed and kept vigil beside him.

i imagine she thinks i'm strange, but every one, every thing deserves to not have to die alone.

and so we waited until he had left us, no more craning the broken little jaw, or writhing of his slight tail. he was still. gone cold in spite of the warmth of the rock.

and so, we watched him make the transition. and then we walked away

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

what was it

today was strange, but in the manner of strange, it never bothered her much. just that she hopped so lightly from bed, she didn't think she'd be trudging home exhausted.

sometimes we need help, so she made it to the safety of her best friend, together they shared their lives, the mundane stuff. the stuff you everyone is not privy to. it was in those moments of near tedium, that they laughed and entertained each other.

thank you for running around with me,
she said.

it had become their custom, to run errands together. even though it involved a forty five minute drive. the company was worth the effort. late one night after their even had been unexpectedly cancelled, they walked the abandoned aisles of the grocery store. talking, laughing, comparing prices.

sometimes her best friend would get mad,
you're so irritating,
she'd say. our heroine had just picked up a grabber for the geriatric and vertically challenged to reach top shelves and walked over to her best friend and slipped it up under her coat and grabbed what flesh she could. anything to annoy. it was a gift she had. they would fight but not that often, because it was true about them both. they had learned how to be around each other without requiring the other be anyone else.

now if she could just find that in a partner.

of course she can.

of course she will.

Monday, April 11, 2011

she could no longer resist

they called to her, drew her in with their beauty,
their delicate faces, the gentle slopes of their necks
the fragrance, she breathed in deep
and could not walk away

so finally, she brought them home

the black petunias
three shades of pink begonias
sherbet zinnias and rusty marigold seeds

they raked the water into the dusty water barrel

it's like baking,
her daughter said

as the dry dirt mixed with lifegiving water the three pronged fork stirring the batter

we need more water baby

the watering can refilled, they troweled holes large enough for the root balls

she gently released them from the starter pots and her daughter set them in place, they tucked the root balls into the moistened soil and tamped down with their fingers.

a moment of tenderness in an otherwise distant day of school and work. that they could kneel together around this one planter and enact the sacrament of sowing, was evidence of a turning in their lives.

she mixed the seeds in an amaryllis teacup her neighbor had just presented her with, and her daughter scattered the seeds before they watered again.

to keep the cats at bay, they upturned tomato cages around the tender plantings.

they would bloom, the bees will come, the beauty of spring was irresistible

Sunday, April 10, 2011

stranger days

it's curious, how life happens. i'm not sure i understand it and when i think i'm beginning to, something happens. it all shapeshifts on me and i'm baffled again.

but that's alright, maybe it's better this way. like finding that field of flowers unexpectedly.
maybe that is where the wonder lies, in the unknown. the unknowable.

i have to keep heading in the direction i think i'm supposed to go, but living on the east coast has robbed me my navigational savvy. i used just head opposite the beach and be going east. though that didn't serve me well on some occasions, when it most counted--i guess in terms of onlookers it "mattered"--i say this because once at a powwow, we were all camping together. and everyone pointed their tent doors east. so i plop mine down, not realizing i could just point my door the same direction as everyone else's, so i go west.

the good thing about that was, it worked for me.

maybe that's my direction, opposite of the crowd. whatever that means. though it sounds pretty predictable, and i don't like predictable.

so i sat by the river this morning, had a lovely cup of tea on the porch, and somehow lost my groove midday. though i've just had a hot soak and hope i'll find it again.

what to do, maybe the opposite of what everyone else is doing.

maybe not.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

first poems

after a long dry, or perhaps, in this case, a marathon of creativity--or something akin to creativity--, and jawing about creativity, hear, a master's program. the first poems to come in the clear, on their own (though i did oblige myself to turn them in, so i'm a little ahead of the gun on that one, but i think my being done is more a fact of the matter, than actuality at the moment), are like the first buds of spring.

the delicate crocus, hearty, brave, brightening up the brown fade of winter.

and now, the goldenrod are blooming.

spring is gearing up, the little ones are gestating. (or incubating)

and my mind is, thankfully, doing the same.

after so long, what does one write about. how does one write. i've come from a land where all we speak of is craft. a thing with as much appeal to me as roadkill. though i look, i try to figure out what it is there on the side of the road, and in what state of decomposition it is in. that's about how i feel about talking craft all day. it's nice to be able to identify things to satisfy my morbid curiosity (really, who doesn't look), but it's nice to not have to go scrape it up and find some way to make a living from it.

though i've known a few masters of reworking roadkill, literally, not pertaining to the metaphor above. i don't know what it means to master craft and i don't want to know.

creativity is such a unique experience. the way we set words down, what we're trying to get across.

it's such a personal journey.

which is why, when this poem came, it was nice to hear my friend's sigh.

that exhalation signals the muse is stronger than any program.

craft is for the critics to discuss, dismantle, analyze, but i've never been about that in poetry. it has always been my soul expression. and i'm just grateful, that remains the case.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


it began to come true, her dreams.
not in any one person, not in any particular way, just little the little things she began to notice and appreciate.

getting up in the morning wasn't a chore.

she waited on the cement guard rail for the bus, and her child smiled at her as they met eyes at the end of the day.

the green was beginning to break through after the long cold wet. the dampened heart. time is upon us for singing birds and blooming flowers.

they stood together talking about which bouquet they liked, and why. she wasn't a spendthrift, but she couldn't justify two bundles of roses, or could she. they couldn't decide so they went to the potted plants,
they're all doomed,
her girl said to her. they laughed.
pretty much anything we choose is doomed,
she replied.

they wandered over to the mismatched bundles of wildflowers, they couldn't decide, they were all so lovely, and ultimately, she got sick of trying to decide and they walked away.
we should come stand in front of the flowers every week, we enjoy them so much.
but they couldn't stand dooming any of them to wilt and fade under her care. though she tried, she over watered the succulents, and didn't water the thirsties. she enjoyed them though, even as they grew limp and faded. she tried to extend their lives.

they're all doomed, that's why i prefer cut flowers. any more time i can give them is a bonus. they're already dead.

kind of morbid approach to the bouquet, but her girl was used to it.

so they return home without the flowers, but grateful.

they walk by the river, through the mossy grasses, talking about the day.

eight hours is a long time to be apart, and that she smiles at me when she comes home, makes me smile back.

it's all good. every last thing.

and she began to understand what it meant to feel good.

she allowed herself to feel it. feeling good is like a butterfly, it can startle away. or be crushed if grasped too tightly. but if you sit quiet enough, for long enough, you will find, there may even be a chance you'll see them break free the cocoon.

she felt that way, like she had just awaken from a long slumber.

and had emerged with the most beautiful wings.

play me

i don't know how to explain it, why i would even try. but i finally played the hand drum i've been carrying around for years. as i walked to the river, it seemed so excited it played itself. which made me smile.

for an hour, i sat beside the mahwah river with my drum. listening. learning.

always wondering, why did it take a year for me to actually do this. not sure. life happens, i guess.

i remembered all the people who have sat with me beside that river, i have let them go.

i remembered all that has happened to now, and i let it go.

the river is willing to carry anything away.

i watched for my visitor but was surprised only by mayflies. though they are lovely skittering across the water like a shaky foal on spring grasses.

i'm wide awake. busy day.

today i will make time to sit beside the hudson. i'll be just a stone's throw away.

the birds are raucous and bidding me to rise.

life is magical.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

she took her by the hand

we went on our first hike of the season.
nothing strenuous,
i said. they asked if i wanted to try, and i always game for a challenge, said
four and a half hours later, we emerged bone weary, but laughing about the wonders we had experienced.

we stood atop high point and saw the city.

we perched on rocks above a waterfall, marveling.

on the way up, my girl started complaining and i talked her through it.

i can't let her convince herself she can't do it,
i told the women.
she can do anything.

but four hours later, i was exhausted and trudging up a steep incline.

one of the women got behind my girl and spoke kindly to her.

another one stopped on the path ahead of me and said,
take my hand.

she stood there waiting for my girl to reach her.

we were so tired, all of us, but she stopped and waited. she walked my daughter out of that valley, and i just kept trudging along. so grateful.

there are very few times, as a mother, my tank is completely dry.

that was one of those times. i could not have mustered the umph to get us both out of there, but i didn't have to.

we trudged up the mountain together, and relieved that someone was speaking encouragement to my child, i went ahead and joined the leader.

the woman who had gone behind my girl joined us and said,
she's stronger when she leads.

so when they'd reached the top of the valley, i asked her if she wanted to lead us out.

she said
my girl lead the ragtag bunch of hikers out of the forest.

and with great relief, we made it to my best friend's house where i promptly passed out on the couch.

i couldn't shake that image though, of someone whom we'd just met, reaching out and saying,
take my hand.

Monday, April 04, 2011

round about midnight

i wish i were in dreamland now. but here i am, thinking. i'm not the type to just lay there and do nothing, so i am up. processing.

tomorrow is a big day. one thing on tap is a lecture at suny newburgh that is closely related to my master's critical thesis. whether or not the instructor and i hit it off remains to be seen, but i will be there, thesis in hand, just incase.

then, i get to sit in the editor's chair for three days at the paper i'm working with. this is a huge privilege since i'm a newby to journalism, but i'm not a newby to editing. so my editing resume being what i handed to the paper is probably what got me this gig. i'm so grateful.

what do you want next,
she asked.

the smile widened across my face,
i haven't decided yet.

when you do, it will be yours.

a lot of things are happening quickly in my life at the moment. for that i am grateful.

my daughter is strong and happy. for that i am grateful.

my friends are close to me. for that i am grateful.

my family is far away, but know i love them, for that i am grateful.

decide what you want, that is half the battle to getting it. this is something i've come to learn.

i have no expectation for this life. i trust. that is all.

but the possibilities are endless, and i want a little extra to give away. without strings. to gift to strangers, even.

enough to share.

and peace. i always want that.