Saturday, March 31, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
As soon as I read this week's Poetry Thursday prompt, I immediately thought of the Marilyn Monroe series by Andy Warhol. This is strange, because I am a Warhol fan, but not obsessively so. And I have really no true feelings about Marilyn. But something in these called to me.
The day I wrote this, we covered "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks in my literature class. They really struggled with it, because they were reading it with the periods, not the line breaks. So, I demonstrated how to read it correctly and then made them all stand up and recite it as a group, to hear how it would have sounded if 7 or more people recited it in unison. (One of my students said he felt like he joined a cult. ) Hearing them recite the poem with all the "we" sounds, made me think about the plural first person voice of the Marilyns in this poem.
We twenty-five lie
side by side, smooth
as a line of Rockettes
each identical to another.
Why not thirty six? We
have often wondered, whispered
among ourselves. Then, we
could fold face to face,
touch nose to nose, red
pout rubbing red pout. Then,
we could fold ourselves again, back
to back with no one else
lurking behind us. Now, we
cannot conform to this simple
and elegant division. Instead,
there is always one of us
stuck in the middle, divided.
Now, we know we have differences,
imperceptible shifts in light
and tone. Can you see us
as we truly are -- a slight smile
spread across our lips, our eyes
half closed and sleepy? Or are we
only an image to you, blond curls,
pink skin, blue eyeshadow hiding our eyes?
Black, White, & Gray
Honey, I am so damn tired.
Stretched thin, to tell the truth.
I have tried over and over to reproduce
that same smile you saw in me
yesterday. Believe me, I tried
wet my lips in the same way, lidded
my eyes just so. All I can muster
is this thin and vacant stare, this
barely perceptible smirk. Do
what you can while you can, that's
my motto and it has pushed me
this far for this long. Its left me
blurred along all my edges. Sometimes
I feel as insubstantial as a ghost
hovering over you, watching and waiting.
Other days, I feel as though a thick
inky black stain has smudged
across my insides. Does it show
yet? Can you tell the difference
when it does? Each new day
I mutter a futile prayer
that you will notice as I vanish
right before your eyes. That you will lift me
out of my monotony. Or at least, you'll recall
how I was, not how I seemed.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
This was an awesome writing week. I added 400 words to my article, I wrote a poem and I wrote a first draft of a haiku that I'm still working on. So all together, that's 95o this week. Woo-hoo.
11486 for the year. And it's only March -- yay!
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Today, we went to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis and hiked. (The falls, by the way, get their name from Longfellow's poem, Song of Hiawatha. The Minnehaha Falls are off of Hwy 55, Hiawatha Avenue.) I took my crappy digital camera with me and spent some time collecting images. I felt pretty blessed to be alive, holding hands with my husband, and watching nature wake up again.
You can try this out with your own website, by going to http://www.snapshirts.com/custom.php .
Thursday, March 22, 2007
You were six and I was eight
and you were already bigger
than me. This must have been taken
before everything changed,
but I don’t remember that time.
I wonder if you do.
I remember bike rides in the park, endless
summer barbeques, our parents
on opposite sides of the lawn. Even this
is a lie, something I tell myself
to fill in the blanks. I want
to call you, ask Do you remember?
Did this really happen? Were we ever
this close, my arm crooked
around your neck, my hand swatting
your forehead? The pictures are yellow
and grainy, but they are all I have
to go by. I try to remember
details, but even they seem wrong.
This was our kitchen, our counter,
our ajar cupboards, our ill-fitted
swimsuits. This was our childhood, still
and flat, burned into this precious, warped paper.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
A big old goose egg in the poetry department. I could come up with an excuse, but basically, I just got busy with other writing and the online class. Looking ahead to my next week of homework, it is rather light, so I plan on writing more poetry this week. *Fingers Crossed*
I did, however, write 967 words for an upcoming article in a neighborhood newspaper. In fact, I just finished it. Whew!
That brings my yearly count to 10536 for the year. Inching up there!
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
I know that I'm going to rediscover my balance, now that I have this new class. But this week, I was not feeling it. I wrote only one poem, for Poetry Thursday, so that's 500 words. 9569 for the year. Next week will be more fruitful.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
This week, I have been feeling incredibly overwhelmed. My schedule has been, to say the least, in transition. A couple of weeks ago, I started an online course in order to learn more about teaching reading to students and to get a certificate in advanced literacy. From the outside, it made sense.
Now that I'm on the inside, I am being swallowed by a mountain of work. Last weekend, I had a long weekend due to a snow storm. I got ahead (or so I thought) in my homework, but didn't do any 9 to 5 work, which was so relaxing and deserved. This week, though, was a killer. I had to make up all sorts of administration work, not to mention all of the grading and teaching reorganizing I had to do. So, while last weekend, I was in my PJ's surfing MySpace, this weekend I'll be in my PJ's grading and doing next week's homework.
To top it all off, my younger male cat, has decided to reclaim his territory. He has taken to peeing on our bed. With us in bed. Often right on us or next to us. It's disgusting. We've had to wash our sheets and comforters dozens of times. In fact, one night, he had peed on all 3 of them, in order, and we had to sleep in sweatsuits.
On Thursday night, I was feeling especially overwhelmed. Over the weekend, I had signed up through my grad school, for a two hour workshop called "Walking the Labyrinth" with an instructor named Julie Neraas. This was back when I wasn't stumped on my response paper and saddled with a stack of personal essays to grade. I thought I was going to be done for on Thursday night. But, I went anyway, because I already paid 10 bucks for the event.
I am so glad that I went, despite the stress and extra work it caused me. First of all, I saw a couple of my old classmates, including someone who took a travel course to Greece with me in 2002. But most of all, it was an effective workshop. Julie led us on a discussion of vocation and calling. We discussed what it means to find meaningful work and how we can balance work with being artists. Then, she initiated a guided meditation, where we would find the question we wanted to answer in the labyrinth.
After all this, we walked a labyrinth identical to the picture above. It took about an hour to walk, because I was journaling and walking at the same time. Not to mention that there are 34 turns in the labyrinth, and that's only going in one way. You have to walk in and out on the same path. How's that for a metaphor?
While I can't say that I had any epiphany moments, the experience really crystallized some questions for me. It's funny, that when I'm searching, I only seem to find questions, rather than answers. The specific questions that I was asking myself had been burbling to the surface for the past couple of days (years), and they all centered around what my path really is and what things I need to do in order to find it and walk it. I'm often so tied down by obligation and responsibility, which I create in excess for myself, that I forget to ask if the task is necessary and if I have to be the one to do it. I also really wondered why I am so task driven, rather than relationship driven. I always choose work over joy, fun, and friendship.
Of course, all the stress came rushing in the moment I returned to my car. But, now I have some questions to ask myself and think about over the next couple of days (lifetime.) I don't know if I'll ever answer these questions, but at least I know that I can consciously ask them now.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Each morning, I painted my lips dark red
with Wet N Wild 99 cent lipstick, number 516.
I dreamed myself invincible, as I blotted and pressed, powdered, blotted
and pressed my lips together until
I had a thick brown-red stain
seeped into my skin. I cranked
my music loud, listened to Rage
Against the Machine, and thought
I could, listened to The Cure
and waited for it, then skipped
breakfast, to avoid red marks on my teeth.
In school, I was invisible
next to all the other girls with blue-red
war paint smeared across their lips,
black kohl eyes hiding their true
intentions. I was just another one
skinny enough to squeeze through the crack
between the chinks on the high school fence,
while the police officer was busting kids for pot.
Instead of sleeping through Geometry, we
broke into our parents’ houses, with keys
hidden in secret pouches in our Pic N Save purses,
punched in the alarm codes before it went off.
My house had Bud Light and nosy neighbors, Elena’s
had a liquor cabinet with Sharpie lines drawn
on the bottle’s sides. We cracked open Cokes
and poured in whiskey and rum, vodka and peach
schnapps, and filled the bottles back up with water.
We invited the boys over after lunch
to watch them slam beers and mosh to Metallica.
One guy told us he went to juvie for assault
with a deadly weapon, pulled back his bangs
to show us his forehead, where he bashed the guys
skull open with his own. We sipped our drinks
from red Coke cans, whispered to each other.
One afternoon at Elena’s, her dad came home
early, found us curled on the couch, drunk and watching
MTV. Elena picked up our garbage and kicked
us out. Her father screamed at her in Russian
as we left, his face turning red and swollen.
The next morning, before school, she answered
the door, slowly, cringing as she moved. Her nightgown
slipped to show her shoulder covered in red welts.
Her father stood behind her, hand on the door frame
pushing the door until it clicked shut
and I walked back to school, alone.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
I humbly suggest that you create Poetry Idol for your new fall lineup. It's true, reading poetry is in decline in some segments of our population, but it is no less intriguing than cooking or modeling or designing. While poets are not always photogenic, we are prone to depression, theatrics, and on occasion, embarrassingly bad poetry.
Please, at least consider my suggestion. And, if you use it, I will wait outside in the rain with all the other aspiring poets, waiting for a celebrity panel to thrash my sonnets.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Only 600 this week.
I say only, because I did have a lot of time off of work this week. However, I feel like I used my time wisely. I did what we call in our house, filling up the well. I took walks, I read books (mostly Natalie Goldberg's Thunder and Lightning), took photographs, and relaxed. I even cracked open my book manuscript and started revising and typing it.
I feel like I've reset myself, in some ways, so that I can be prepared for a full week of work and for some writing next week. Call it procrastination, but it felt necessary, when I was given that gift of a long weekend.
9069 for the year.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Friday, March 2, 2007
We unbury our
selves, shovel burdens and
pray for them to melt.
Thursday, March 1, 2007
A syrupy, soapy slip of nothing
blossoms on the plastic wand. My lips part
as I breathe life inside. Delicate walls
stretch into prisms. Then, it floats away.
Clear spears of ice dangle on eaves like teeth,
a house becomes a hungry animal.
Once the sun shines, rivulets of water
trickle to the tips, loosen each tooth’s root.
Each day, I struggle to find the right one,
the kindest combination of clauses.
My mind clicks, tumblers in a lock, as I
catalogue all of my fleeting choices.
We are surrounded in layers too thin
to see, covering each other until
we are protected. Take one sharp edge, quick
slice and we are open for all to see.
She dodders past the door, cheeks round and red.
Mittens and hat unwrapped, she scrambles through
the store, giggling and grabbing glasses
off the stocked shelves, crashing them to the floor.