Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What I Fantasize About

Here is my inaugural post for the new online community, Writers Island. This site was started by Rob Kistner as a way to fill the void for our dearly departed Poetry Thursday.

The first prompt was a doozy: My Imaginary Life. I had so many half-formed thoughts running through my head when contemplating this one. I think it is because I am always engaged, simultaneously, with the life I lead and the life I want to lead. I know if I just work hard enough and do enough, I will have that elusive perfect life, but it always seems just outside of my reach. When writing my poem for this prompt, I had to really confront the reasoning behind this type of thinking. Why do I focus so much on the future when I have so much going for me in the present?

If this first prompt is indicative of the type of work we'll get to do on the Island, I'm excited for the project!

To Do List

38 Items

Light more candles in my home, feel
their warm glow spread across my face. Watch

much less television, spend less time
seeing that dull light flicker behind my eyes.

Clean the bathroom regularly; scrub
the bathtub until I can see myself reflected

in white porcelain. Worry less often and waste
less energy asking what if, why, and when.

Write more regularly. Stain my fingers
black and blue with ball point ink, smear my words

on clean white pages and find myself
within them. Meditate daily, before bed and

unwrinkle my mind, until it is fresh
as a blank white page. Lie

to myself less. Cradle myself in forgiving
arms and let go of everything I should have,

would have, could have, today. Rip
pictures out of magazines. Assemble slick

jagged collages of meaning. Find the one
word to paste in the middle, the one that explains it all.

Build a fort, using all the books I read
this year; feel safe in my constructed

storybook cottage. Wait for the bricks
to loosen and tumble on top of me. Pick up

the heaviest, open it at its center, and read
what’s written on the yellowed page. Do

whatever it tells me. Stop constructing
perfect endings before their time.

Wait until the necessary one emerges.
Record everything I eat, read write. Write

down every time I sleep, exercise, and breathe.
Do more, do less, think more, and think less

Spend time inside, then outside, then inside
again. Be louder. Be more silent.

Write this list daily in my journal, tear
out the page – swallow it. Discover

the perfect combination of word and intention, action
and inaction, that unlocks this heavy, deadlocked door.


gautami tripathy said...

You poetry made me sit up and take stock of what I want to do, should do and currently doing. Now I am going to reflect on it for a while.

That was one good take on the prompt.

Jo said...

WOW! You really are very talented, Jessica. I love this:

Meditate daily, before bed and

unwrinkle my mind, until it is fresh
as a blank white page. Lie

to myself less. Cradle myself in forgiving
arms and let go of everything I should have, would have, could have, today.

It's just perfect.


Hedwyg said...

Oh, how wonderful! I like having the verbs near the end of the lines - it really makes them punch.

Thank you!

paris parfait said...

What a wonderful piece, especially the last stanza. Well done, you!

tumblewords said...

A list like no other - this could almost be a chant. Lovely.

Paul said...

Whereever you go
There you are is a maxim
That you should respect.

Pauline said...

Reminds me of a Shel Silverstein poem about not minding the oughts and shoulds...

Sounds like you should do it all and not do any of it - isn't that just how life works!

Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

Bravo! In this life of way too much multitasking, way too much on our plates with family, work and home, you've nailed it here.
Just do what you can, make room for things that matter like self care. Nurturing the self. All else will fall into place.
Keep these coming!

...deb said...

This is stunning.

I didn't count, so have to ask...what about the title? My impression is another contradiction or rather a pairing...specific count to this broadly incanted open life.

"Do more, do less, think more, and think less// Spend time inside, then outside, then inside/ again. Be louder. Be more silent." were my favorite lines in a poem that doesn't let me choose favorites easily.

You rock.

Becca said...

First, I love listing poems, because they elevate the ordinary to something sacred.

Secondly, I love this particular listing poem, because it reflects so many of the same goals I have for my own imaginary life.

I would like to write it in my own journal, "tear out the page - and swallow it."


jonas said...

You hit it, sister. List poems have always been a favorite of mine, especially the ones that come out while I'm struggling to get writing...one such successful one was called 'table of contents of my bag june 7th, 2006'.... gonna have to go check out writers island.

"Write this list daily in my journal, tear out the page – swallow it."

Jessica said...

Hi everyone. As always, thank you for taking the time to give me feedback on the poem. :)

gautami -- thanks for the compliment. I am in a reflective mood myself, since I'm going through such a big change in the 9to5 life, which spurned this poem.

Jo -- thanks for the ego boost. :)

Hedwyg -- I'm glad you noticed the line breaks -- they're really important to me. I like having an important word (like a verb) on the end.

paris -- thanks! :)

tumblewords -- I've also thought that list poems ended up sounding very similar to the chants.

Paul -- love the "maxim," wish I could live by it. :)

Pauline -- I love Shel Silverstein - I *wish* I could write like him.

Hi Gillian -- I think that a lot of people go through the multitasking without nurturing the self... it always ends up last on *my* list.

Hi ...deb - as always, thanks for stopping by and chattin'. The number came from the number of lines. There are 38 lines in the poem. I wish I could come up with something more mysterious and creative, but there it is.

Hi Becca -- thanks for the comments. Please please please don't really eat your journal. :o

Jonas -- I love list poems too! And I started writing it this way, because I was having a hard time fitting it all in in a "regular" poem.

You should totally check out Writers Island. It's a great community (all 1 day of it) and the weekly prompts are great for motivation.

Lea said...

What a joy to experience your poetry... I especially liked the line, "unwrinkle my mind, until it is fresh as a blank white page..." oh yes, this is now at the top of my list! So glad that you enjoyed the labyrinth...

Herb Urban said...

Your poem inspires me to shut off the TV, retire the laptop for the night, find pen and paper and reflect for a little while. I have never been able to write poetry. Your work leaves me in awe of your talent.

tinker said...

This is possibly the best, and certainly the most poetic, 'To Do List,' I think I've ever read!

Clare said...

Great beauty in this -- filled with light and love and affirmation. I want to wrap this around me and wear it like a cozy shawl.

Rob Kistner said...

That was wonderful to read Jessica. So many thoughts and perspectives open up in the reading -- and with universal resonance. Well done!

I'm glad you've become an islander

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