it was a song for someone else, but this poem is for you

He said I never take the blame.

I said it’s neither yours nor mine.

He said I make excuses.

I said I’m trying to explain my side.

 

He said some more, and more after that,

but I had buts in opposition.

And when he said that it was over,

I thought, of course, he couldn’t mean it.

 

But when you’re the cause and offer no solution,

can you really play surprised?

I broke his heart and he broke mine,

and apart we’re picking up the pieces.

 

But I have tape and I have glue

and some sweet somethings to say

I hope I haven’t learned too late to listen –

are you sure we can’t find a way to fix it?

i heard a sad song on the radio this morning

Believing in a nonbeliever.

Convinced of fate with faithlessness.

I’ve blurred in blanks where words were placed

with truth or delusion

or an immiscible suspension of the two.

 

It’s chemical in its momentum.

I’m ephemeral in my hopes and dreams.

An educated child: winning battles, losing wars.

Still surprised by losses,

but watching from the “winning side.”

 

Education can’t teach wisdom,

and the heartbroken learn what ifs.

But if you said once more: dance with me.

I’d show you

I’m worth the second chance.

dovetail

Dovetail. Love tale. Love stories gone to waste. The rise above stories, lost down below. Below me. Blow me. Billowing willow willing, waiting, wading. Candy taken from babies and pleasure taken from it. Hay right from the horse’s mouth. “Heys” right from the whore’s hoarse mouth. Throats close. Necks breaking at breakneck speeds. Speed demons haunting speed addicts haunting enablers fixated on unrequited love. Love lost. All bets are off or at least off-kilter. A blade for a sword’s hilt. Words without filter. Inhale. Exhale. Embarrassed coughs before you pass. Passing grades. Passing out. Fleeting. Flailing. Hands where you should see them. Failing. Give help only when it’s asked for, not needed. Shoot the messenger. Kill the affected. Long live the cause because we always have. You have always lived in a castle. I have always been aware of social class. Classic tales of rags and riches. Rising out of urban jungles. Hang from trees or hanged from trees? Neither: we cleared them out. Hangouts on corners. Cornered markets seem clear in the land of possibility. Possible profits with fingers worked to bones. Yours, mine, ours.  Skeletons are wearing thin. Debts promoting desperation and causing destitution. Where went a destiny that was once manifested? “Where went the constitution?” Erase. Replace. Build quicker. Build cheaper. Don’t offer free repairs. Foreign markets’ manufacturing. Improbable dreams seem possible. Align online. Know your market segment. Sell your stock. Sell your soul. Sell your hopes and then your dreams. Sell your hair for a hair comb and your pocket watch for a watch chain. Chain-link fences put up to sever ties. Do what you want to do as long as the law abides. Smoke cigarettes. Drink until your liver’s pickled. We’ve mandated health insurance. Let’s cause the problem and strive for a solution. Let’s mock preventative measures: we have abortion. Let’s continue on an ill-paved road: it has to lead us somewhere. Let’s herd like sheep for shepherds: I hear the slaughterhouse is open.

stuck

I am so very tired of thinking, but I can’t turn off my brain (I’ve tried). I am so very tired of thinking, but to not think would be to give up on moving forward, because moving forward requires some thought, I think. Moving forward with time (keeping slightly constant the other three observable dimensions) is a possibility, but problems pile up without at least some planning. I am so very tired of thinking, and it’s probably because I have too much time alone to think, but to not have time alone to think requires other people’s presences, and I do not have easy access to those – at least not in the personal way I want to access them.  I am so very tired of thinking, because all of my thoughts these days are worries about failures and insufficiencies, although I have almost no concrete evidence of the reasons for my worries. If I lost my job today I would think, “that makes a lot of sense,” because I don’t feel like I am doing well at work because I am distracted, although I am still meeting deadlines and producing competent work. I am so very tired of thinking, and I feel like I am flailing, and I don’t understand how one could wave hello and then goodbye when I am motioning to be rescued. Maybe all attempts at human-to-human understanding are fundamentally flawed – and so why am I trying, and how could I think I am trying, and why am I angry or surprised that I failed you?  I am so very tired of thinking the same thoughts that have lasted days and then weeks and now months.  I am so very tired of thinking, and the world still turns on an axis and continues to make days turn to weeks turn to months turn to years turn to lifetimes lasting lifetimes. Whole lifetimes living stuck.

writing to reduce a deficit

The best compliment I have received was given to me through the voice of a boy I loved, but it was not comprised of his own words.  I proofed a essay for him in college, although I don’t remember what it was about now.  I made a lot of changes, I am sure, since I have always been a harsh editor.  His professor commented that he had “a great understanding of commas,” and I was flattered for him, for myself.  I pride myself in my understanding of sentence structure, and, of course, proper punctuation.  I think about the use of prepositions far more than is probably appropriate. I value style over meaning (within reason) while reading.  I get off on alliteration and internal rhyme and could be quoted in my admiration of the lyricism of prose.  I have written “whom” out of my language, and I make up variant words as I need them.  I know I am a bit pretentious, and I know I am a writer.  

The best compliment I have received was when a boy I loved told me, after we broke up, that he knew I would write a book one day.  We were high and he said he’d never admit it to me normally (to keep my head from getting too big).  This is probably central to the “why” in the analysis of our breakup, but it’s unimportant here.  I don’t know what he saw in me that made him think that and say it, which might mean he knew me better than I maybe knew myself, at the time.  When I think about it now, I know I am a writer because when I read a story I think is great, it doesn’t take me to faraway places – it takes me to a seat in front of my computer, and it forces me to write down any words I know in an attempt to organise uncountable thoughts.  For me, reading is not an escape – it’s an enclosure that forces me to look at my own life’s problems and pleasures, and I don’t enjoy it – not really. Not all of the time.  

The best compliment I have received was when a boy I loved told me I was rare – not as measure of uniqueness, but as the recognition of a deficit.  I don’t know if I am a great writer, or even if I have the potential to be a good one, but I know that writing is something I have to do to romanticize the past, deal with the present, and create the future. I also know that the fictionalization of my affairs results in an overlooking of the non-fictionalized reality I am a part of, sometimes.  When I am trying to talk myself out of doing something, I tell myself that there are thousands of people who could string together the same series of actions to produce results equivalent (if not superior, objectively) to those I could produce. I convince myself that my own personal movement in a direction toward something will result in mediocrity, and that my passion is not one that will be shared or even understood. I don’t take a lot of chances – not as an individual – not chances that could potentially and completely change my life, or evoke peer-expressed judgment, anyways.  

But I do know that all people have doubts, and that my fear of failure as an extension of obscurity is likely shared by many, even those called “successful” in their field, and to refrain from producing anything felt passionately about and to go through lifemotions is to live a life wasted. There are many who can and do and will outdo my verbs and nouns and choices, and many who won’t try to because of the same uncertainty I have about everything I do that does not produce immediate, qualifiable results. So maybe through my actions I will inspire others to act, and maybe their outcomes will be better, and maybe (quite possibly) that’s a good thing – that’s progress. That is how we get out of a deficit.

emily dickinson

I have only memorized one poem in my life, and it is I’m Nobody! Who Are You? something or other, by Emily Dickinson. I had to look up the official title and I am a bit embarrassed by the outdated choice of punctuation, but I will let that go, for now, although the entire reason I felt inclined to write “something or other” after the name of the title, was you wouldn’t think I supported those clearly bothersome punctuation choices.  Anyway, I remember specifically trying to memorize this poem from my twenty-pound reading anthology as I sat in class in maybe 5th grade (but just as probably before or after), and it has been in my memory ever since, even as the prayers I was forced to memorize have faded away. I don’t think I particularly liked the poem  – that wasn’t my reason for the rote memorization – I more felt that it would be important to have at least one poem internalized. I wanted to be able to recall the words that someone else wrote, and this poem, that I was already reading for class, was short enough to accomplish that without all that much effort.

I think I was always drawn to poetry, but a lot of what I was exposed to early on was flowery-fake language of forced-scheme rhymes that I couldn’t and didn’t want to relate to or understand. But I am nobody, and who are you? Are you nobody too? Then there’s a pair of us, don’t tell, they’d banish us, you know. That I could relate to. That was speaking to me. Directly.  I felt like a girl my own age was letting me in on a secret of hers, and no, I wouldn’t tell, because I understood.  Maybe I am nobody too – it’s quite possible – and it is dreary to be somebody, I think, although I don’t know how it is public like a frog. But I suppose that is fair enough since I do like the idea of telling your name (the livelong June) to an admiring bog, and frog rhymes with bog, so that must be correct. I wouldn’t mind going unknown either, Emily, but I have to say, I am still misunderstanding that bit about the publicity of frogs.