27 April 2011

sister, i'm not a poet

This April is the 16th annual National Poetry Month, "when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture." Unlike Morrissey, I'm not a poet. But I've written some poems that I'm sharing here -- for posterity and with contextual notes -- to contribute to the celebration. (Yeah, potentially embarrassing; 'see through my clothes, no reason to hide my words.')

The first poem saw publication in 2001 in the poetry anthology, WOVEN MAGIC. It came to me one evening in 2000 when I realized that the three CDs randomly playing in my disc-changer -- The Cure's Bloodflowers, Deftones' White Pony, and Marillion's Fugazi -- all shared themes that reflected my mind-set of the moment.

From my author's note in WOVEN MAGIC: "Music is a mirror. It reflects the listener's hopes and fears, their dreams and desires, their true selves and their state of mind. Music can also be a muse, inspiring the listener emotionally and intellectually. It inspired me to write [this poem], which deals with my own look in the mirror. What did I find...? I found depression. [Yep. Embarrassing.] But despite that, I also found strength in my loneliness. Thanks to music." Here's "The Music Is Dark"...

The music is dark
as my mind falls apart.

Grasping and groping, I crawl
where's the light?

Eyes blind to joy, it seems
impossible to find?

Help me up, please... I think
can't see...

Tears streak and burn
sweet euphoria!

I hear the Night Call
and it is beautiful...

The next two poems came to me and were written on the same day -- Sunday, 25 March 2007. The then "love of my life" had ended our romantic relationship the Sunday before; I was heartdestroyed. My car had broken down earlier in the week; a financial and logistic nightmare. I had received my mid-term grades later that same week; they were not good. And I had just wrapped organizing, managing, and MCing the inaugural year of a sci-fi/comix convention the day before; I didn't have much left to give, but I gave it my remaining all and more.

When I finally crawled out of bed that Sunday, I posted a convention update via MySpace Bulletin. (Times sure change, don't they?) Rereading it a couple of hours later, I noticed that it had a kinda-sorta poetic rhythm. So I reworked it into "Sweet Relief"...

For those of you in the know...
I survived.
Still some worries and stressors,
but not nearly the weight.
Kissed some guy,
hugged some women.
Found out I probably could pursue that Stand-Up Comedy career.
But no...
The joy -- or should that be "gift"? -- I receive in caring, giving and helping can't be beat.
$430 to The Women's Community!
Looked like a dork on TV.
For the first time in nearly a week...
no nightmares.
Doing it again next year.

That Sunday was also an unseasonably warm, beautiful day. So I went for a long walk to decompress. When I got back home, I wrote "Deep Breaths"...


Late afternoon
Stepping outside
Deep breath... Deep breath... Deep breath...
First walk of the Spring
In PJs and Chuck Taylors
Down Hamilton, from 5th to 3rd
What will people think?
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"
Wrong context
Six blocks to Grant
Nice lady on her porch
I smile
"Beautiful day, isn't it?"
A big, warm smile back
"Yes. Yes it is!"
Kissing her daughter goodbye
What's she thinking? Does she trust him?
Does she worry?
Deep breath... Deep breath...
Down Grant, from 3rd to 5th
Lots of them
It's been awhile
Is He watching? What's He thinking?
Deep breath...
Six blocks back to Hamilton
"So that's what my house would look like if my landlord finished painting it"
Man walking
Still using a Walkman
Wonder if I'll ever get an iPod...
How many blocks total?
One, two, three, four, five...
16 blocks
I still have to see that movie
Deep breath... Deep breath... Deep breaths.

The final poem that I'll share -- written in the same style -- came to me a few days later. It's called "Morning Haze"...

Stir from a dream
Rob rolling his family van down a mountainside...
Tim drawing "lit" Jewish comics...
Mom losing a lot of weight, but now sporting a scruff-beard
"What time is it...?"
might as well get up
Out I flop
turn the coffee pot on
Al starts calling out to me from his room
Stumble into the living room...
Turn on computer
eyes still heavy
MySpace while the coffee brews
"A silly for a monday morn.....Best (Worst) Headlines"
read later
Eyes not red
poke and prod the gunk out
"Love these contacts... gotta tell Dr. Chris"
Take a whiz
dark yellow... am I sick?
Get coffee
Get Al
"Hey! It's about time! I'm starv -- WAIT!
"Look! A ladybug!!"
"Don't eat it, buddy... I think I heard they're poisonous."
Meds and water
"Hourly" first
Time for "Best (Worst) Headlines"
... who writes these things?!
"Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead"
"Ha!" that truly is the winner!
"I'm gonna write a poem a day, every day"
a diary in word pictures
starting yesterday
Time for "Morning Edition"
big wake-up yawn
Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze" plays in my head
I still want to enjoy my Morning Haze.


Well, I never wrote that "poem a day, every day," but I did have the opportunity to perform all of the above at a packed open-mic poetry reading that my friend, David "Supernatural Sexual Political Comic Book Doctrine" Cohen -- who is a poet -- organized a couple of years ago. "Deep Breaths" and "Morning Haze" were very well received; it was quite flattering, and I'm proud of them.

As National Poetry Month draws to a close, buy out some time to celebrate this intimate medium if you haven't already. Revisit or write your own. Attend a local poetry reading. Or read some selections. Poets.org is a wonderful one-stop resource. If you need a prompt, I encourage you to consider the late, great Gwendolyn Brooks; she's my personal favorite.

- - -

* "Evening stroll in tutu" by Bonita Cooke.

** "Ladybug" by David Gn; "Jimi Hendrix" via Aaron Smith.