Ties

Saw a missing girl post on Facebook 
With ties to Ann Arbor 
Where are your ties? 

What binds you to this earth 
Keeping you from floating 
Away and beyond and farther than we can see 

Is it love 
Is it pain

Or even joy?
But maybe just the school you went to 
In a community you were never a part of

I am tied to this place 
By my hopeless faith in humanity

I think I’ll outlast you all 
And then what 
Tied here to this earth alone 
Because I gave too much credit  
To humans 

The pain of others

How do you carry your pain
All of the slights, jabs, cuts, bruises, broken tissue and bones?
Is it the weight on your shoulders that pulls you forward
Or the drop of your head?
A hesitance to make eye contact.
A resistance to any kindness, a suspicion of all?
Or do you wear it proudly
Bearing it all to show the world you cannot be stopped, cannot be shamed.
I slide my pain into an extra pocket on my heart
Keeping it close so I can pull it out and examine it like the frogs we dissected in school.
Are you there
Do you still hurt?
Is it less or more now that time has passed?
It’s probably the same.
Your edges have begun to fray, an old wound I cannot bury or let fly.
So back you go, nestled close and safe until the next time.

Before the cabin

There is a cabin
Hillside winding river to open blue sky lake
Creaking pine amber waters damp moss wood smoke
Worn down by love and family and generations
Children now adults and their children, soon adults
Tilting into the mountainside undeterred by working summers
New screens, jack the foundation
Tin roof rain songs at night

But before the cabin, the bridge
Before the cramped car ride ends
Let me out to cross the footbridge
Spanning the river slicing town in two
I’ll walk the rest of the way please

White paint taught silver cables old smooth wood
Step lightly breathe deeply hear the river below
Lean over the rail watch the river flotsam and foam
Think Poohsticks and feel the sway of suspension, the long drive slides away
All of the years, all the of songs and bike rides, flat tires, skinned knees
Glorious slivers of bridge just under the skin, sunburned shoulders and dirty feet
Canoe under, look up, marvel at the magic
All of the bridge’s time in one flash

These are the thoughts in the depths of winter and long school days
The bridge, the cabin, the sweetest days
Across the highways, up the mountains, around the lakes and
Over the bridge

Are you still there?

I’m still here, crawling out of winter. It is Easter weekend. Passover begins tonight. Tomorrow there is a full moon. A time of renewal, of coming through. It makes me think of some lines of poetry by Carolyn Kizer. It is the imagery that has been stuck in my mind for years, that I come back to again and again. From The Great Blue Heron:

As I wandered on the beach
I saw the heron standing
Sunk in the tattered wings
He wore as a hunchback’s coat.
Shadow without a shadow,
Hung on invisible wires
From the top of a canvas day,
What scissors cut him out?

Bring me the beach. Bring me the birds. Let’s begin anew.

It’s the 4th of July

And my apartment is roasting and I’m still in bed with two fans aimed towards me and a very hot kitty named Opal is snoring at the foot of the bed. All that to say, in long form, that I’m lazy today. On Saturday I worked at the library and did some original cataloging in Dewey and spent quite a bit of time sweltering in the upstairs stacks measuring shelves for some collection moves and then went to a cookout for the rest of the day/night. Yesterday I scared myself awake before 9am and had a ridiculously productive errand running day for a holiday weekend. So, today…nothing until the apartment becomes too unbearable or its time to head out for street meat and fireworks. Keeping that in mind, I’m lazy blogging today, too. Here’s another really old poem. Note: I am no longer a smoker and do not encourage the act of inhaling cancer.

Morning

The soft whir of the ceiling fan

Moves my hair across my face.

I get up and stumble

Past the piles of books

Stacked haphazardly in front of my windows.

Before you, I never drank coffee.

Now the milk swirls into

A creamy caramel color.

Outside, the cigarette smoke curls

Past my long fingertips

Into the early morning light.

We sat here once,

Leaning against each other,

Taking in the weak sunlight

Of a late fall morning.

You kissed my forehead,

And told me you loved me.

Now, my cat Puck, follows me back,

Back into the house and

Perches precariously on the sink

As I shower.

He sings me a song

Of lonesome meows.

I pick wet green leaves

Off the trunk of my car

As I leave.

This Is Just to Say

For my birthday this year my sister gave me two beautifully illustrated children’s books. One was delayed in the mail and I only had a chance to read it this past weekend.

This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, is an amazing book. The poems are written by a sixth grade class working on a poetry unit, inspired by “This Is Just to Say,” by William Carlos Williams, which has long been one of my favorites. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the poems. Kids can be amazingly talented and they can also be regular kids. The class that wrote these poems are amazingly talented regular kids. I didn’t expect to feel the pull of emotion that I did. I certainly didn’t expect my eyes to well up, even though I am an overly sentimental person. (I cry in the card isle). But I laughed, and I was sad, and I was angered by the things these poems were apologies for. And I was inspired.

In college I took several writing classes, one of which spent a fair amount of time on poetry. I dug through the drawers and file boxes in my study until  I found the beat up flash drive that I thought had my college work on it and was surprised at what I found. Some of the poems were awful, mostly because they were about love, and I was in college and clearly lacked perspective. But I’ve decided to share some of them here with you. One at a time, I think, and possibly in the order in which they were written, because why not, and then maybe I’ll inspire myself into more poetry.

Poem 1

The plum is the grandmother, the matriarch of the family. She is small and round, shrunken with age. A tough bitter skin surrounds a cool inside, sweet and tangy with love, holding the family together.

Baby apricot shrieks with joy and rage. Small and fuzzy, he quivers with energy. His tart temperament comes through when Plum neglects him.

TheOrangeadores her baby Apricot. She sits in the sun, round and juicy, contemplating existence and motherhood. She relaxes, waiting for someone, not necessarily her husband, to peel her.

Pomegranate Papa sits smoking his illegal Cuban cigars. His is rough and rigid, full of seeds, and deplores hisOrange’s laziness. He loves to peel her, knowing that she despises him.

______________________________________________________

Also, if you’ve never read “This Is Just to Say,” by William Carlos Williams, go do it. Now.

Movie Sets and Postal Poetry

On Movie Sets…

I have a lovely little apartment. Only after a long absence or party does it become insanely, out of control, messy. I dislike clutter and mess and, as you may have guessed by my chosen profession, I like to keep things organized. But two weekends ago I invited disorder and utter chaos into my home. I offered my apartment as a movie set to a team participating in the Boston 48 Hour Film Project. While it was a blast having everyone in my home (I mean that sincerely), making breakfast for cast and crew, and watching a film come together in less than 48 hours, I would not recommend this to the uber neat freaks of the world. Below, the beginning of disorder.

And this was just the start of the day. I’d totally do it all over again. I’ll post some photos from the movie making process and a link to the finished product, I Hate the Future, very soon. What the team created in less than 48 hours will blow your mind. It is that awesome.

On Postal Poetry…

I love shopping for books. I love browsing through the isles, looking at covers, feeling the heft of the book, the texture of the page. But I also love ordering books online. I usually only order books that I’ve already read but don’t own – and there is a delicious anticipation as I wait for it to show up on my doorstep. This past week I worked from home, and I literally watched for the mailman from my window. I was waiting for a book of poetry that I’ve been wanting for a long, long time. Cool, Calm, & Collected; Poems 1960-2000 by Carolyn Kizer. My sister turned me onto the work of Kizer when I was in my early twenties, and I own several slim volumes. It was also my sister who showed me her copy of Cool, Calm & Collected, and of course, I instantly fell in love and had to have it. That was at least two years ago. Sometimes it takes me a while to work down my list of books. And, oh, was this book worth the wait and anticipation. A full spectrum of emotion seeps through the skin of these pages. This has always been one of my favorites.

The Way We Write Letters

for Robert Peterson

We must lie long in the weeds

In places like Palo Alto or Perugia,

But none of the old Hearth & Home;

Be a Logan or Creeley, all arrowheads

And .22 cartridges studded and strewn inside,

Find new places to rest and nest. Get looser;

Get back to (you said)daytime drinking, mu-

Sic of Telemann, Schutz, Buxtehude.

Don’t keep your house in order.

If you have any suggestions for

Improving chaos, please write or wire.

We should lie long in the woods, full of light.

Old friends get published again, though losing

Their moon & vinegar. Write to me soon (I said).

Meanwhile, find a new place too,

Where air, not character, is cool.

Not Sausalito. San Gimignano?

There, despite psychiatry, towers simply are

In a piercing, lyric, prodigal confusion,

Regulated. Well, remember Heller in Paradise.

Madness & you (we both said). Stay sane and annoyed,

Drunk in the daytime. Call your book Home for the Night.

But don’t go home tomorrow. Write me instead

From the meadow. Turn on the poem & the light.