There really was a stuck door, with an old wooden frame that swelled with the weather and I'm sure had many other tiny imperfections adding up to its unwillingness to open. But I was also young (college or maybe a little after) when I first wrote this poem, and am sure I was angry at some recent disappointment that seemed oppressive and inescapable at the time. One of the greatest things I've learned over the years is that there is always a way if you really want one. Warning: contains some "bad" words.
"at once" a little dreamlike, a little searching, a little rediscovery, and a lot left to learn...
Looking back, I'm fairly certain there was a measured amount of self-sabotage in my failed relationships. Maybe this is true of the passion history of each of us. Sometimes this sabotage was due to my inability to be honest or recognize when the relationship needed to end, or with blinders firmly affixed, I would plow through the reality of my life and exist in some parallel space. And then other times I let my own insecurities pollute what could have been crystal clear. This poem reflects one of many moments when I was forced to own my sabotage and hope too-late it could be mended.
Sometimes it is good to let a poem speak for itself. This is probably true more often than I let happen. Enjoy brought to color (for JK).
There was once a sailboat being built in the basement of my North Portland, St. John's neighborhood, house. I imagined on many occasions having to fill the basement with water in order to ever see it set sail. I'm not sure if it was completed, but it left my basement, and I'm sure I cried enough at the time to at least help it float a little.
On a recent trip from St. Louis to Portland, I was inspired by the bird's eye view of the Kansas landscape. I was surprised by the mixed emotions from what I saw and the way my imagination spun from discrete images. As someone who loves farm life, but hasn't lived it full time, the surprise came from leaving the joy of that way of life and latching onto unrest.
I wrote this as a response to Nikki Giovanni's poem titled "Poetry". I'd love to link to a copy of her poem, but I can't find it online. If my books weren't still in boxes from my recent cross-country move, I would at least point you to the correct collection it's in. For now, well, sorry. It's important for me that you know Nikki Giovanni is one of my poet-heroes. I've read everything she's written, was fortunate to hear her speak once, and used her poetry in my Language Arts classes when I was a teacher. I'm fairly certain she will never read a word I write, but if she ever does, I hope she sees deep respect in this response.
You will notice that the excerpt in the image is altered from the full poem. I deconstructed the poem to create four micro poems for my Twitter feed and really like those revisions. I also still believe the full poem reads the way it should, so...
couch poems really has two versions, and I'm okay with that. Maybe someday I'll title them separately, but for now, they are linked.
When I started working on the One Womb project (see lift the veil which covers me), I didn't really know what these poems would become. I began by keeping a process journal of ideas, writing in coffee shops and wandering through bookstores for ideas. Some of those initial thoughts are still waiting to be developed. I was intrigued by a book, Goddess: Myths of the Female Divine, because it was written by two men. Turns out they have eight daughters between them and wrote this book as a sort of necessary journey as scholars and dads.
When my artist partner looked at my notes from the book, and I in turn looked at the sketches she created from those notes, the words "Vignettes-Goddess" were at the top of those sketches. Although some of poems are not about specific Goddesses I researched, a few are an attempt to retell and reconnect a part of their stories. Astarte's arrival is one such poem.
The title of the collection, This Passion's History, came from this poem, restless words. I first described This Passion's History in the post about language-woman-man.
Restless words attempts to simply convey a feeling that creeps in unexpectedly from time to time when I question who I am, what I'm doing, where I'm going, and inevitably, where I've been. It unsettles me, which isn't always bad, but makes wonder why I can't just know myself instantly with conviction. This is one of life's mysteries that both excites and annoys me. I guess if we always understood ourselves, we wouldn't need poetry.
Once upon a time I missed a plane. This event, even though it was not the beginning, has come to represent a specific period of intense creativity in my life. It was almost like a second wave, or maybe a third or fourth. Time has begun to blur. The long title of the Missed Plane collection, which is a subset of This Passion's History (see language-woman-man), is a micro poem in itself...
it was so good
to miss my plane,
i may have to
Every creative spark has a catalyst--events, images, sounds, people, etc. People also inspire and encourage. For a writer, this is powerful. I've worked with many other writers in workshops, and couldn't have done any of this work without them, but I've found more growth in my writing from working with artists in different genres. During much of the Missed Plane period my writing was influenced by visually and musically creative souls.
On the surface was once dedicated to someone who helped me comb through all my writing, rethink it, and ready it for publication. It was the first time I was truly encouraged to pursue writing as a career. Even though that dream didn't happen then, I am forever grateful for this support.
I've recently replaced full dedications with initials. I'm not the same person I was when I wrote the poem. I'm often not the same person 24 hours later. The same is likely true for who the poem is dedicated. Small versions of us still exist. I cherish those past selves. That's what the dedication represents, and that's enough for me.