I Live

I have been haunted by the voice of Autumn

taken the wind for a weekend lover,

argued with the reeking river.

I live in a castle of mattresses

and I take it sweet and slow getting out in the morning.

Bacon fries itself in the kitchen,

doing such fantastic somersaults in the bombastic grease.

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Marilyn Monroe as a Housewife

A congress of confetti has decreed

every wind must blow up.

The ground breathes.

I look like Marilyn Monroe as a housewife,

standing in my yard with my dress billowing around me.

My husband sees me with his eyes shut.

Hands open.

The hours I have given him clump between his fingers like cat litter

I will wash them with aloe.

I will dry them in silence.

Our daughter has been sequestered with the sequins

and she has sewn a shining dress.

See her straddle the breeze.

She learns from me.

Mother and Poet

I want my life to be an example of creativity and beauty to my daughter. Being a mother has completed me in some inexplicable way. It is as though I was born her mother, and Angelica’s birth was just a stage in my life cycle. When she was born it was as if I was a butterfly emerging winged from a snow white cocoon.

Because she completes me, and she widens my world, she has deepened my poetry. Motherhood has also been good for my productivity. It gives me less time to write. That may seem counterintuitive, but it is true. By allowing me less time to write, motherhood makes me focus when I do have time to write. Sometimes having all the time in the world just makes one fritter away time. When you become a mother, you appreciate time. That said, I still need my husband’s support for my writing. He lets me have a wonderful babysitter twice a week and gives me time to myself in the evening to read and write. Reading is the life blood of writing. A mother without any support and many children may find creating great literature next to impossible. Woolf was right when she said a woman needs money and a room of her own to write. But given critical aid, motherhood can enhance poetry.

Motherhood:

-Reinvigorates me and gets my creative juices flowing

-Enriches my life and gives me more to write about.

-Makes me make the most of my time. I am super productive because I know how limited my time is.

Before I met my husband I intended to go to an MFA program before starting a family. I thought two to three years with nothing to worry about but writing would be ideal. Now that life has taken me down a different path, I see that for me nothing is further from the truth. Motherhood and the awesome responsibility it entails gives me a purpose, something everyone who wants to write should have. If your whole existence is writing, you may find you have nothing to write about. See the proliferation of novels and short fiction about writers/MFA students by writers/ MFA students.

This is not to denigrate MFA programs, which can be wonderful. I am simply saying that motherhood has in many ways been a rigorous training ground for my poetry, and that the breadth of experience it provides me is nutritional for my fertile mind.

A Jealous Math

The floor is a guess,

is clear like water.

It is raining June in my hair.

My clothes are brimming with butterflies.

 

I am a sour after note to their beauty.

I was born to rise

to shatter sky.

 

Instead a jealous math

embalming me

 

 

Fills me with mud.

The Poet’s Way

Lately I feel vague, uneasy stirrings inside me of unrealized inspiration. I have not written fresh poetry in weeks. I am going through a dry spell, which is not abnormal but still disconcerting. Writing is usually one of the constants in my life, and this prolonged period of creative silence is disturbing. A writer is someone who writes. I identify as a writer but have not been writing. Something doesn’t add up.

Part of the problem is that I need more poetry to read. Reading stimulates creativity and imagination. To that end I am going to find two or three new poetry books online and order them this week. I have to look online because so much of what they have in the bookstore I have either already read or it is much more mainstream than my taste. There are pretty slim pickings for poetry in most bookstores, at least the book stores around me.

I need to start using Goodreads to help me hunt down good books, too.

If I really want some inspiration, I need to take more of my current poetry and run it through Google translate in Xhosa and Afrikaans. That is an ongoing project of mine, to translate my poems into these two languages and back again to English and then edit and revise my results. I can get some really fascinating results from doing this and I love to play with language. It was inspired by a South African pen pal.

Sometimes I get flashes of imagery in my head or bits of phrases I want to use, but nothing cohesive has come together. Poetry is never far from my thoughts, but I just haven’t given birth to any healthy lines.

Sometimes a little bit of creative silence can be a good thing. It gives you a chance to collect your thoughts, process the world, and provides you time to live life so that you actually have something to say. Writing is an act of communication and rare is the person who truly has something to say 24 hours a day. Sometimes I come away from creative dry spells completely re-energized and ready to tackle lots of interesting imagery and conflicting ideas. Letting my writing brain sleep allows it to awaken refreshed. But this dry spell has gone on too long and I need a sort of bootcamp to get my creative muscles taut and toned again.

To that end I need some sort of discipline and something to ignite my mind. What I will do:

Read read read

Look at images for inspiration

Try handwriting some poems to end this block.

Reread Twyla Tharpe’s book on creativity.

Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and see if I can pick up anything useful.

Continue to work on waking up earlier so I have more time to write.

Talk to other writers about maybe having a support group.

Use my Mastery app to log time writing poetry.

Be willing to write work that isn’t my best just to get something down on the page. Great artists/writers, like great athletes, need to practice.

In Italics

I have been mistreated by myself in italics.

I was mistreated in italics.

I was in italics when I was mistreated.

I have threatened myself

And been threatened by people who loved me

with knives for hands.

I cut everything.

Life is a hallway.

God this hallway is a mess,

my clothes strewn everywhere.

Church

Church of memoir

of discovery

of chants.

Cloistered in my name are ten lives

I did not live

in favor of a sublime 11th.

What is better than best?

What can joy can be discarded for ecstasy?

The taste of salt lines my mouth

when I look back.

 

 

translated to Xhosa, Afrikaans, and back

Church of Love

 

I find joy

while I lay cloistered in my ten lives.

Auroras swirl beyond my reach.

They will not live.

There is a reason I am so inordinately fond of 11.

What is better than a lot?

 

Why have I ignored peace?

 

It tasted of salt in my mouth.

Power lines guiding me back home.

 

 

Church of Love

Separate the gaiety from the joy.

Lonely in my ten lives,

they live,

it is as though they live without me.

How do I dispose of gaiety?

Of me?

Midwest

Fuzzy snowmen smell like turpentine.

Why all this wistful wind,

this heavy quiet,

these creative snowmen dancing in slow motion

to no music?

Not inaudible music,

or even illegible sound,

but nothing at all-

Machines with no factory.

This snow  covers a ghost city.

The children scattered and died.

Yes, I am freezing.

Would you like to dance?

Submission

A salivating sun

licks a sailboat lost from harbor.

What do I know about submission?

All steel and no magnolia.

Eloquence runs from me.

From my rib you can take a war.

What nation can be fed by my falling eyelashes

that this fluid angel warps around my form?