It must have been about two years ago when I found an old postcard in a book. A sun-glare photograph, and on the back, the note was sprawled: “I’m writing like a chopper and flying low.” It inspired my phase of writing down words, slipping them in borrowed books, and returning them to the library. Hoping they would be found and needed. It was then, too, that I deemed Carl Phillip’s book The Rest of Love some of my favorite poetry pages.

It was about a week ago that I strolled through the library, realized an urgent need for more poetry in my life, spotted Carl Phillip’s poems on the shelf, and gathered them to re-read.

It was tonight as I was reading a poem to myself out-loud that I turned the page and there it was, clicking its toe on the sidewalk with a small smirk, waiting for me: a purple post-it note stuck to the page staunchly declaring in my own handwriting,

Some things fall apart so that other things can fall together.

An unintentional future letter to myself, an unexpected tree-house strung with Christmas lights in the middle of the woods. Found and needed.

I watch waves larger than my eyes know crash into themselves and send their spray in the air like a father tossing a gleeful small child up and up when he comes home from work. The child goes airborne and explodes, flies, spews parts in all directions, crashes deathly to jagged ground. Too much power.

Wondering the rocky coast line, words drift on wet air from a bystander: “The ocean is so powerful…  God is amazing.”  Necessary abandonment of these words to get closer to what the water is.

I plant myself and sprout slowly from a rock overhang jutting out in a manner reminiscent of the opening Simba scene in The Lion King. The spray could devour my dangling feet if it reached with a slightly greater effort. Thought streams something like:

the need to give the ocean the credit she deserves for her tantalizing dance with the rocks that scrape her body’s outlines instead of condensing her into the word God which finds more over-use and consequent haze than the words love or starving or beautiful. But where the words? There is water there is rock there is me there are other people there is an overwhelming something greater somewhere somewhere somewhere and never right words for all the combinations of how we many meet, collide, create something like living to not be said. Hereupon helpless i utter lilac shrieks and scarlet bellowings and become only further indebted to the ocean because her waves’ melodrama drowns my sound.

An old man standing near turns to my friend, says of me, “Must be meditating.”
“More likely writing poetry in her head,” the words from a friend who read my moment well.

The old man laughed out loud at a something real he considered a joke, a sound that couldn’t carry to my ears over the more pressing although less formed perceptions of an ocean’s handshake.

swallow me whole

wondering a summer day

June 11, 2009

The land took a steep turn downward through the woods. “We’re going down,” I said over my shoulder to a friend who was clearly hesitant about the truth of this statement.

“I’m dizzy just looking down there,” she said.

We went anyways.

We half-walked-half-slid-down through the non-path in the woods that wasen’t quite tamed for traveling, through the tree-sheilded land of lost kickballs, overunderaround fallen trees and piles of dead leaves and a trickle of stream. My unconfident friend in tow, I tried to feel some kind of certain that the nonexistent path I was creating would carry us somewhere worth going.

Such unassuming walks usually do.

Finally, after pushing through bushes, coming face to face with a clearing who acquainted me with knowing the vastness of sky which life’s movements had recently concealed, and climbing up tree-root-ladders, we spotted a picnic table in the midst of the trees: a signal of abandoned once-life.tree-filtered life

As we sat on the table to recover from the journey with unknown purpose, a through-the-trees gaze taught us the nearness of the river.

We sat with the trees and the sight of water so surprisingly ours and said simultaneous phrases to make poetry, wrote the words on rocks, and left them to mark the place where everything had led.

the morning’s words

May 26, 2009

If you’re ambitious you’ll have a career path set by your 30s,” the kindly retired man offered in response to my verbalized indecision. His voice had a rambling tone that nearly disguised the knowledge burrowed deep inside of what he said.

He winked his next sentence toward me with new clarity: “Of course, there’s no law that says you have to be ambitous.”

If was liberation to hear aged advice from an older adult that resonated with my now: it’s okay to have an unconventional life’s plan; it’s worth devoting time to poetry if the prospect of it makes me fall in love with mornings; it’s important that our ways to live keep us actually alive.

But the important decision isn’t whether or not to shirk ambition, but to choose what to be amibitious about. Even if it’s something abstract, undefined… ambitious for a feeling that comes from something like sleeping inside warm rain or for a carefree attitude that sings summer or for forgetting about boundaries (like time, like routine) that can’t control as much if we give them less credit. 

definitionOur ambition’s directedness creates for ourselves a something to be known.

soundless words

May 19, 2009

Saturday granted me a mandatory task: spend 5 hours in alone silence.

Saturday granted me the perfect placement for such a task: a strange, new spot on a lake surrounded by trees

dandelion sky

I set out to explore silently 5 hours.

Wondering through a cracked-open gate, I moved into an opening where brightly colored shapes sprouted to towering from the ground: an empty carnival. Rides stood eerily still as laughing kids and bustling crowds who once filled the space floated down ghosts in the beginning rain.

I entered the ancient tilt-a-whirl ride, pulled up the metal bar and sat in the car untilting, unwhirling, but curving to protect me from the rain. And me, giddy and giggling at the stillness of a ride most people move through quickly as rain tapped my feet.

I ran barefoot across a nearby field of white dandelions and collapsed in the middle so my sight contained only knee-high dandelions and sky.

I wondered into the woods and found a clearing furnished with carpet, chairs, lamps, a toaster oven, an old merry-go-round horse named Mike. And on the outskirts, an ironing board.

I climbed on a fallen tree dangling over a stream and wrote about everything. About my memory of years ago discovering an impressive treehouse in the woods behind my sister’s house and about my comrade during that exploration which contrasted my current aloneness.

I stepped into the cold stream and splashed all the way along its current to where it found the wide open lake. I was crazy-laughing as I and my clothes grew increasingly drenched and the stream restored became pure lake.

I sat by the lake on a log and read poetry out loud to the waves hitting the carcass of an enormously decaying fish.

After the 5 hours of silence ended, I re-met eight people who had similarly spent the same time in silence. I discovered that other people had stumbled across the same scenery I had; one had traveled almost exactly the same path as me.

And then I knew.

That we’re never as alone as we think we are. That things happen always with the power to change everything if only we were aware. That life at its most right involves a balancing between climbing inward and stretching out.

That the bare-bones potential of any day is that there’s always something new to explore and contemplate and say and create.

five hours

poetry by obliteration

May 14, 2009

obliterated poems
 
 
The Idea:
Cut the bindings off of books found at a used book store. Find poems in the pages by the process of obliteration. Put pages in the mail and send them all around the world. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I like the idea of transforming anything into poetry. Especially if it involves recycling beautifully aged words.

dreamingpoetry

I dreamt in poetry last night.

Before I went to sleep, I carefully selected e.e.cummings and Anne Sexton to cover the contents of my evening. Without noticing it, the clock they were swinging rhythmically before my eyes read 2:00 a.m. and I was still staring at it, hypnotized by curiosity of what shapes their lips made when they wrote, how frequently they looked up from the page to stare blankly into full space. I believed everything they said, was lost and found in a tock.

But it didn’t stop when I closed my eyes to their tangible words.

I fell softly into a possibly favorite part of life: that dangling into a fresh bite of sleep moment. And the poetry continued. I could see images that were words and hear the sights before my eyes breathe and move. Vision/noise/meaning was one thing.

I knew I was dreaming, knew that I had never encountered poetry so full, had the pressing need to wake myself up and scribble everything across pages in the still dark night.

But I woke up only the next morning having retained just a memory of the word “festering” and a vision of that word unfolding. It had something to do with greens outlined by browns and levitating ovals and the slightest sense of growth.

i floated in those words

January 13, 2009

poetry2

I found it dwelling in the response I received when I needed someone to assure me that my poetry would be an acceptable gift to give someone:

“But what can you do with poetry? Maybe if you write it on something useful…”

There it was. The uninvestigated truth that poetry is too impractical, too tossed aside, too improperly separated from the practicality of life and even from other forms of art.

But poetry is so valuable within itself.

You can know poetry like you know your daily breakfast, the familiar taste of soggy cheerios as you read the morning paper while still shaking off the sensation of nesting inside darkness and sleep.

You can walk through poetry like a walk through the woods on a sunny day with endless questions breathing in the branches and strips of sun painting strokes across your skin that disappear as you move.

You can feel poetry like a child feels a summer afternoon, hearing inaudible delight in a lazy day without having yet discovered what work is, without finding any need for concern with overbearing details of life.

Poetry houses something. It’s something you might find elsewhere like in a circumstance that naturally offers accidental sweetness, or in a perfectly taken photo, or in a just-rightly created piece of art, or resounding from the voice of a favorite person, or within the frame of an ideal moment.

It resides in poetry to alert you that life and everything in it has the perfect potential to be right and unspoken silences might be said.

for a moment, all bells ring true.

a sonnet of stars

September 27, 2008

The most recent writing assignment suggested to me has been to write a sonnet about constellations. After remembering just how frustrating writing in sonnet form can be, I’ve come up with something.

the pre-school teachers tell, “Now turn your thoughts
to page fifteen. Connect the dots from one
to end with makeshift lines as you’ve been taught
to form a common whole. And when you’re done
we’ll look to night. To understand the view,
we’ll plot the dark on graphs and maps.” Our eyes
so trained to see the lines, we look right through
the stars and see some dots. Sky’s twinking guise
is strange; we quickly craft our fabled gourds
and belts, familiar sights in foreign clouds.
We mar its magic with a name, record
its life, domesticate its light, too proud
of faulty facts—when all along a slow,
still, starlit night is better than to know.