Tuesday, January 3, 2017

a letter to let her go (2016)

Dear 2016,

Thank you.

Thank you for breaking me, forwards and backwards. Thank you for the ridiculous splinters and stitches and additional semi-bad ass keloids to add to the scar collection. You gotta decorate a life with some living right? Right.

Thank you even for the migraines and the lost days to them, for this curse magnitudes the blessing—makes the day smell much more sweet and worth it and powerful. Thank you for the epitome of dark so that I may know and truly appreciate the warmth of light. I am grateful to be reminded of my body because there are in fact moments I forget.

Thank you for close contact with my family, for the belly laughs reserved for our blood connection, for the secret language I continue to share with my sister. Thank you for my niece and nephew who gently ask me to please never move that far away again. For all our moments big and small, for each and every holiday and occasion I could be here & present for.

Thank you for all the reminders that everything, even our idols, are flawed and mortal. Even though I refuse to believe Prince is mortal. He’s now simply a part of everything.

Thank you for that summer dusk sunlight coming through on back road car drives, and all your random parks and her dented benches. For the moments I have spent here with a heart beating strong next to mine. Thank you for campgrounds and a tent that hinges back it’s cover on top so we could lay there and be right with the stars. Thank you for that lake and the canoes and for my comrade paddling us back into the deepest inlets to find anything hidden. For his assurance when I was so concerned with our boat hitting bottom. We never did.

Thank you for some of my most fragile and stunning moments to date.

Thank you for the music and for the time alone in my car. For when melody yanked out the tears and I drove and grieved, drove and grieved. Thank you for that privacy. Thank you for the music that leaned me back in my seat, made me feel truly strong and better and smiling. Music is magical.

Thank you for heavy things, and for giving me the space and time to lift them. For progression, and every bump and victory that comes along with it. Weightlifting grew into an unexpected meditation for me this year. 2016, I leave you with a mind/body connection that is stronger than ever.

Thank you for another 365 days of continued growth for my friendships, and for the time to add new ones. I leaned hard on some dear ones when I needed it the most and I never felt let down or left cold. I had to let some things go but that is for the best. I’ve received some of the best care and advice of my lifetime this year and my entire self is stronger because of it.

Thank you for another year of writing, for more time to tell it. Thank you for every reading on the calendar, for every ear that heard it.

Thank you for the very clear reminder that work here and elsewhere is not done—that if we believe in something, we need to stand up for it.

Thank you for letting me learn the hard way. This year I truly found that forgiveness has so very little to do with anyone else. I do not need permission, and I will not expect nor wait for it. We are free when we decide to be. Thanks for reminding me that anger does not suit me, is not worth my time, and doesn’t solve much at all. Thank you for the opportunity to show up and face the worst of it.
Thank you for healing my heart, and for reminding me that we are constantly mending and strengthening—that she, too, is a muscle. A miracle. Thank you for returning what I always, always knew.

How could I ever call you the worst when you’ve taught me so much?

2016, thank you. Thank you for all the bullshit, the hot mess, the hard knocks, and the sweetness.

Monday, December 12, 2016

On December 4th I had a poetry feature in Dayton at the old Yellow Cab building. This building used to be a cab business for 40+ years—it’s located right on the fringe of downtown with double garage doors that stay up in the warmer months and shut in the colder. There are hints of checkered things, a decent sized stage and free tampons in the womens room. A pretty rad venue.

My set was wedged between the open mic and poetry slam. The Dayton writers are so friendly and welcoming—I was specifically requested back for this feature, which made me feel pretty darn good. To be welcome and wanted is a precious feeling when it comes to doing something so very close to my heart/is my heart. This particular night was a prom themed night, so most people arrived dressed up—swishy hems, high slits, suit jackets, even a cummerbund. When getting ready at home, I realized I had nothing remotely close to prom attire but I pulled on a long skirt and combat boots and called it done. My date surprised me in a button up and tie.

I was fascinated by how many individuals read their poems straight off their phones. Is this me showing my age, being old fashioned? Visually it feels awkward to me, to watch someone read off a device in the palm—I feel like I’m listening to someone relay a text instead of a poem. Maybe I am used to the aesthetic of paper, or hands that are completely empty. Maybe it’s because I see so many people distracted by their phones on a daily basis, looking down instead of at the person across from them/things around them. Maybe this is something not to really care or worry about, but I found it distracting. I couldn’t get over it. Everyone walked onto stage and looked at their phones, then spoke into mic. Is this now the norm? Norm or not, I won’t be reading my work off my cell phone anytime soon. The writing/typing, the printing out of pages, added lines scribbled in the margins…all of that is part of the process, the ritual of what brings breath to a piece of work. For me, at least.

Also the majority of the readers were young. Perhaps I’m finally getting to an age where I FEEL the generation gap. Maybe it’s because I’ve been getting on stages for 16 years now—I remember being that young, I remember my approach to it and I know that approach is quite different than my current one. Age, experience, both—I can feel it, hear it, see it at readings. There is nothing good or bad about this—it simply is. If anything, it’s fascinating. It makes me a little giddy to make note of it. I know I’m getting older(my body for sure knows it first thing in the mornings), but it isn’t until these moments do I really see the path behind me, already ventured down. With poetry and poetry readings this intrigues me because while I can see the difference and know the difference, the subject matter these young folks are speaking on are the same. Universal things. Unrequited love. Busted hearts. Ignorance. There are more mentions of technology methods(so strange to hear facebook brought up in a poem, but I guess that is the world these days) in regards to courtships and endings.

Most of my poems were older ones, and this felt really good to do. I’ve been writing a lot over the past few months, but feeling quite protective with this new material. Much of it isn’t ready to leave the nest just yet. They need to do nothing but simply exist in a space outside of my own head and heart, age in the air a bit. Some are only partially erected buildings, a staircase to nowhere, walls up but no roof. There’s pleasure in this part of it, when something is becoming but not complete.

I cannot ignore that there is home to found in my older work. So much of it has never seen the light of day, outside of a word document tucked away in one of my many files filled with the same. My archives are thick with unidentifieds and not-quite-there-yets and yes-but-forgottens. In an interview once, I remarked on how I had a habit of treating my work like a very bad lover. I loved them but left them, feigning a loss in interest. Moreso than losing interest I think that habit stemmed from being very self-critical, which was rooted in nothing but fear. I’ve been going through the archives, even the slightly ridiculous and/or painful parts, and paying attention. It feels like an opportunity to re-introduce myself, to listen, to understand myself better. For as much as I might have thought the work was garbage or worthless, I must’ve thought something more since I kept nearly all of it.

Friday, November 25, 2016

So, what happens after a post vowing to update more? Nearly another month goes by, naturally. The aftermath of the election destroyed me, I'll admit. The first few days were all shock, and then anger and despair came waltzing in, drudging up all the old feelings I had long ago when Bush was re-elected. But worse. Worse because it is worse, and worse because I'm older and I know a little more. This world right now...I don't know. Overwhelming is too small a word. Overwhelming doesn't span even half of it.

I'm at a coffee shop editing and writing and editing some more. Plus stalling. This post is a stall, you know. I get swallowed by the sheer amount of work I have saved in the archives. It's getting to the point where I frequently come across entire pieces I do not remember writing. There is something slightly frightening about that. I hesitate to delete a word of it. Even in the duplicates, I bite my lip when I hit the "remove" button. Figuring out the proper way to let go...this permeates all parts of my life, even the poetry.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Time, busy-ness, age, change and change and more change--these are some of the things I can point to, easy, that keep me from updating this space as regularly as I would like to. My intentions are good, but the days of this year have run over me, left me in the dust. Sometimes I'm in an all out sprint trying to catch up.

I'm going to try to visit this space much more often, and hold myself accountable to the act of typing some shit out if only for the sake of memory and release. Anyone I know will tell you that 2016 has been a strange and difficult year, but there it is and here we are. Surviving it. I came back to the states at the beginning of it in shards. Some of me so busted that they were smooshed to salt. Time did not seem to move. In February I ended up getting 8 stitches in my pinky from a bit of a freak accident at the gym. Aside from the scar, the things from that sticking with me: the calmness with which I asked the gym manager to call someone as blood poured in my palm and down my arm. The crustless pb&j the nurse offered me between numbing shots when I said I was hungry. The sobbing I did when the doctor pulled the stitches out. It was from pain but also circumstance, all of life coming to a head in that office with my hand in his, my desire to assure him it was much much worse than he thought or knew. I will always remember the careful way I pulled my lifting gloves on, the way I bandaged it after and managed to move weights with little finger out for weeks and weeks. And then I healed. Time did her thing.

For six months I worked cleaning houses. Little glimpses into the lives of people I never knew and would never really know--family portraits and toiletries and habits, good and bad. I scrubbed the sinks of dentist offices and dusted countless desks. I now own hoodies and pants stained with bleach. I moved on to a job with a guarantee of more hours and better pay. Things changed, again, as they are certain to do.

I write and get on stages again. This, another miracle. At one point it had been a solid year since I had stepped up to a microphone, and I felt every bit of this absence in my lungs and guts. My first time back was in Pittsburgh and I cried while reading a poem about my failed marriage. My second time was reading with friends I haven't read with in 15 years, and that felt like home. There weren't any tears. The moments are stacking up and I am letting them. I'm writing quite a bit now, and part of that stems from staying quiet for too long--the rest comes from this very real need to tell it now, as much of it as I can. All of it, even. Who else can tell our stories for us? What other voice is there? I posed the question when? And the answer is always now, and I'm sticking to that. It is up to me, and I have no room for fear in that. At first, writing again was difficult and determined my mood for the rest of the day(and sometimes the next). Heavy is heavy. I'm learning how to go there and then how to leave it without all the colors bleeding through to the rest. It is a mixture of practice and trust. A trust in self that I can return.

I rediscovered a great big chunk of my heart that never truly left, and it feels a little like miracle and very much like yes. Something that helped me remember who I am, at the core. Despite all the trajectories, possible veering, blocked paths--there is a matter-of-factness to where I happen to be currently. Things will change inevitably, and I'll do a bit of shifting with them. I have my frustrations, things that could certainly be easier. There are days when I am standing far from optimistic, but I work through it and return. Forward is the direction. Forgiveness is the method.

More soon.

Monday, September 26, 2016

"If you suffer it is because of you, if you feel blissful it is because of you. Nobody else is responsible - only you and you alone. You are your hell and your heaven too." --Osho

Saturday, September 24, 2016

a slew of haiku




may the tongue keep wings
& lash unbashful tumbled
flight from perch, with bite






faceplant and footprint
the ground never looked so good
on our stupid hands






my bed of basil
in a love full of fences
grown coiled diamonds




It is how you can
smell a season. It is what
you tape to the walls.






Hills hides the dancers.
I look up and still myself
to see the clouds move.





Rare these days become--
the ones that threaten time,
the ones that feel like God.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

now.


When you hold your hand up to the sun and it will not grow warm. And when you catch yourself saving tears for the long drives. It's time. Long due. Someone mumbles it or a skywriter catches you absent and spells it out in great chemical loops, or you can't sleep because of the growl in your knuckles where pens slip all slender ghost-like. Or you find it then lose it like thread in the bed covers and you spend all day digging through the soft with all that you've got. Or someone asks you, sweet and easily, when. Have you? Will you? And all the scenery says speak--the city and whip-whirl of ceiling fan. It all echoes have you? Will you?



When?