Thursday, November 08, 2007

Stay in the Room

You get to the hard edge of the song and it's embarrassing how wet with grief you are, and at the same time lonely, and on fire with longing. It's a bitch. You want to get up and go to bed, nap all afternoon, see a movie. There's laundry in the other room, and the dishes from breakfast. And lunch. And then, well . . . . that line in the fourth verse, it just won't come right.

I told my niece the other day that I know a poem is right when I blush to the roots of my hair. Poetry is not nice. It oysters all over the room, leaving prints, slime, gashes, echoing in the stairwell, reminding you, pulling out stuff you haven't looked at in years. Uh oh. Gads. Not that again.

And going to readings? Same thing. Last night during Big Tall Poet's reading I was suddenly ready. It felt like all my cells opened their arms and let the music wash in like ocean. What was it I scribbled on a scrap in my pocket? The lines arrive upon me like the slow beginning of a turn. I was so caught up in the song and the rhythm of Big Poet's voice that when Poet-Painter Friend who had come with me whispered something, it sounded like "I've got two offices full of panties at the moment..." What?!

Paintings. Now what the hell was running through the air in that room? I heard somewhere once that a good poem makes you vulnerable to your own joy and exuberance. Like a good friend does. And what are friends for but to surround you. Just that. Nothing else.

And my unfinished poem at home on the table, with troubled lines all through it. I'd fled it to go to the reading. The second reader gave us a chapter out of his book. One paragraph stuck, about some kid wanting to be outside in the first rain of the monsoon season more than he wanted to argue and kiss with his girl. He said: We don't write letters anymore... And immediately I fumbled for a pen in my pocket, scribbled some notes for a letter. Just for that, I wanted to holler out. JUST for THAT!

And Tall Poet's Voice rumbled on like going over one of those old plank bridges in a van. It made me thirsty, and the palms of my hands itch. And after he was done I drank down the whole bottle of water they'd given him, bought his album and one of his books, stole away into the night, and began letting down my guard.

"Look out for my [joy and exuberance]; it's in your neighborhood.." (some Neil Young lines, tweaked for my own purposes...) Words are spells. I walked home spell-bound, dazzled, the tectonic plates of my body shifting. When I give a reading, I sneak up on the audience completely naked inside, and bullet my words across the seats so that sparkle can sift slowly down onto the people who came to hear. They come because they want to be held. And reminded. Poked in the sore places until their eyes are a mush.

I went home to my poem, heavy at heart even though sand was shifting somewhere in my body, a door that'd just slammed shut stopped reverberating all down the hallway and another softly opened a crack, letting in prickly new air.

Trudging in the door I saw the pages still on the table. I sat down to them, and reached inside my coat, pulled out a scrap of paper and read: Stay in the room with it. Stay with it until you can let it go. And tears began to soak my cheeks, glistening in the low yellow light.


Anonymous KathyR said...

You write beautifully.

I'm glad your feed is working now (I couldn't get it to work before) so that I won't miss any more of your posts.

1:18 PM  
Blogger jo(e) said...

Oh, this is so wonderful.

Just delicious.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Matt K. said...

Excellent - really gets to the heart of things.

11:06 PM  
Blogger sukipoet said...

thanks for your comment on my blog. If you're in upstate NY you must have lots of snow too. I once lived in Syracuse and the winters there were so cold and snowy.

I like the way you write. This post was lovely. I'll take some time to scroll thru yr blog and see if you post any poems. Be well, Suki

3:33 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

absolutely beautiful....and haunting. it gave me a glimpse into a poet's world, as i'm not much of one myself. but i can relate, to a degree, when i feel i have a story to tell....that release when it finally comes out, in the way it should....not by me forcing it out.

wonderful writing.....

8:55 AM  
Blogger colleen said...

You reached me to my core and to the bottom of my scribbled scrap paper filled pockets!

I hope you are off writing a poem right now.

I'm going to pay more attention at our next spoken word open mic.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Douglas Lourenço said...

good work.

11:04 PM  
Blogger wenders said...

It is so wonderful that you chronicle the hard parts of writing so clearly and honestly. Writing, composing are similar--one really gets face-to-face with oneself, and you get to discover what your taste wants, and often, how hard it is to get there.

Please be encouraged by your readers. We love your work; just keep going, and if it's any use, know that we're here, out here, with you.

11:04 PM  
Blogger wenders said...

I have left a (long) answer to your question about the recipe in the poem on my blog. The treatment I suggest might be very good for someone (especially) female, who has cold hands and feet. I would be happy to be a resource. And of course Chinese medicine is full of formulas/recipes; students often make mnemonic poems up to remember the action and interaction of each herb.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Ampersand said...

Wow. I feel exactly this way about the feelings that come when I am shooting pictures. Sometimes it's hard to look at them to finish the post-processing, because I have to revisit the feelings that went with taking them.

But at the same time, I can hardly stop myself and I get some sublime delight out of it.

I sure hope that comparison does not trivialize what you've written here.

I got to you from concretegodmother, but I see from the comments that we have other mutual friends in Jo(e) and Colleen (at least I'm pretty sure it's the same Colleen.)

5:18 PM  

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