My home office renovation project has unearthed some entertaining finds — poems and letters from way, way back, short stories I don’t even remember writing, letters from professors encouraging me to keep pursuing writing. So why, again, did I stop doing something I was so passionate about and have felt compelled to do since the second grade? How did I lose that part of myself for so long? It is a mystery. Well, not really. My friend Donna and I have both done some serious deconstruction of our paths away from creative writing. Things like being uber responsible, making dollars, following a more traditional path, adopting and birthing babies, caring for chronically ill children, get bandied about when we get on that subject.
I found letters to old boyfriends and a 12-page handwritten description I created in college about being raped when I was 16. I remember the agony of writing that piece. I did it to get all of that shit out of my head and trap it elsewhere. That technique actually worked pretty well for me. But I didn’t remember tucking that particular pain into this particular binder of poetry and short stories. I started skimming through it and decided I’d be kind to myself and just bury that raw awfulness back away where it belongs. I also found early journals, and entries from more than 25 years ago about my brother Doug, my fears regarding his health, and memories of times, sublime and miserable, that we shared. Some of the more amusing finds are these rather ardent love poems and letters to — I cannot say. I mean, really, I have no idea who had inspired me to such insipid, gooey trash writing. Really bad stuff! If that was the poetry and prose the dude moved me to write, I’m much better off without him.
So, I gleefully share three of my college? graduate school? era poems here. Feel free to laugh at and with me. Forsythia, rainbows, and crows, all.
It was snowing gray on Wednesday as I stood waiting for my northerly, my Wednesday’s direction of choice. It was on the greensheet of my A.M. edition…obvious as cellophane.
Today I stand poised on some course, waiting for a move to move me, secure in my indecision as dictated by my horoscope.
I’m wearing the blue dress that slipped off the hanger as I stood and watched. I’m scented in the Channel no. 5 that I found in the hallway.
I’m in the drugstore out of cigarettes. The brand eludes me. My camel hair coat itches my palms. I buy the Camels.
I search in my purse for a comb and find only the toothbrush full of black dog’s hair.
I loved once and all that happened was my dog died of botulism eating the blueberry topping on the-anniversary-pie-of-our-third date that went bad when you didn’t show for eight years. Until that Tuesday in Englewood, I watched from the corner as you bought that puppy from the pet shop. I was wearing the blue sweater you once told me made me look – nice. I saw as you gave the Shih Tzu to the blond. She looked Gemini. Not right for you.
So Friday I took the train to Brooklyn and shopped for vegetables. That night the Doberman came through the window. He called himself Gandhi and we wear matching red sweaters.
But today is Sunday, and you’re somewhere else. And I’m on this corner in Annapolis—waiting for the next move.
(Mutually Assured Destruction)
“Tomorrow we die
so live tonight,” the commander yelled,
as he shaved his chin
and stroked Emily’s thigh.
The crew rumbled,
then raped the chef.
I sat on the barrel of apples,
back to a rough wall,
smoking my last joint
and singing about Sweet Baby James,
when the chef found me.
I was skeleton,
and he borrowed a rib
to beat the drum.
Emily played the tambourine.
We all found the mushroom so seductive.
On Butterflies and Flowers
The flower he brought me
difficult to vase enfold.
We worked our fingers
carnation pink with trying.