Seen

This is a poem about body image, body hatred, and exploring sexuality with a new lover while wrestling with those .. and losing.

 

Seen

 

 

 

I asked for the lights out.

 

Hidden beneath piles of your blankets,

 

I wasn’t strong enough to let you undress me.

 

When your hand accidentally pushed the fabric aside

 

Exposing my stomach to the dark of your room,

 

I snapped out of the moment with you;

 

That precious, much anticipated moment,

 

To clutch the blankets tight around my waist

 

In apology.

 

 

 

When you looked down the length of me,

 

I couldn’t look at your face.

 

I didn’t want to see you struggle to be okay with my body.

 

In that moment,

 

I regretted every French fry that has ever touched my lips.

 

My eyes shut tight, as if I could blank out your view,

 

I missed the way you gazed at me,

 

Imagining instead a look of disgust –

 

Though I have never seen anything less than love on your face.

 

 

 

I lost myself to the moment only once.

 

Your eyes latched onto mine,

 

Your hands exploring every curve of me.

 

I was lost in your gaze

 

And for a few minutes I could feel you.

 

I could feel your desire for me,

 

And I was too lost in your eyes

 

To deny it.

 

 

 

 

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The Changing Leaves – Writing Divorce

Nearly two years ago, my partner of 12 years and I walked away from our partnership, in two different directions in life.  There was a lot of hurt that had been building for years. Even when two people agree to separate, even when both of you want to set out in life looking for something new, it hurts.  More comes unraveled than you even realize.  I wrote this last year, marking a year since the decision to divorce.  I was trying to capture how our relationship had weathered so much, but didn’t make it out unharmed.  I was trying to find a poetic way to say that only through divorcing was I able to finally really fully feel love from him, this was not his fault.  I wanted to say, that despite years of pain, there were moments where we shared absolute beauty.  For us, these moments so often occurred in nature.  Now, almost 2 years later, it feels appropriate to finally share this piece.

 

We fell with the last leaf of autumn.

A quiet beauty of colors against blue sky,

Turned brittle brown and left forgotten

As the fiery oranges and golden hues

faded into long winter days.

Through four seasons

we scraped our brokenness,

Gathered the trampled mulch,

And waited for new growth

We survived a harsh winter

Spring storms

Sweltering heat

To gather again the debris

To learn the depth of rocky soil

The richness of what has decayed

Our branches reached out more than once

An effort to touch the missing leaves

But fallen leaves die their quiet death

And we cannot undo years of sorrow

For moments of sunlight over an Ozark hill

When the first leaf begins to turn

Writing Flexibility

I have been writing much more than I’ve been giving myself credit for.  The problem has been that I really want to write this poem brewing in my heart.  Apparently, she’s not quite ready to come to page.  When this happens I tend to think of myself as “not writing” and considered myself completely blocked.  This simply isn’t true.

I’ve been writing a lot for my new job.  While it is technical stuff; teaching manuals, prospectus for the year, introductions to curricula, etc., it IS creative writing.  I try to weave creativity and beauty into all of my writing.  This is especially helpful when writing for my job, which is a religious educator for a liberal church.

I’ve also been doing some blog pieces over at another blog I run.  These tend to be very creative, spiritual, and reflective.  Not only does this help by flexing my writing muscles, but it gives me a path to start putting pieces together for a poem to emerge later on.

Writing flexibility is important.  Even keeping a journal can help, as long as you are writing regularly, you are keeping those muscles strong.

 

Lost & Found

28 days ago I packed up everything I own, put it into storage, and drove east into a new life. I’ve landed but somehow haven’t arrived. Today I sit on a screened patio looking out over a pool with palm trees in the landscape as rain beats down. Isaac making his presence known here in north central Florida. Even in this setting, I cannot write.

I am working with an idea for a poem. The kind of idea that could be as good as ‘Hellbender’ if I could just get some words on the page. I write a verse then delete it. It’s like I left my creativity in the Ozarks.

This happens occasionally to writers. Sudden moments when we cannot seem to write. I am remembering a writing exercise around this, which is to just write about what is happening. To begin and just let the pen (or keystrokes) continue into the absence of words.

collecting bones, leaning into the dusty decay of death
My sacrifice carved on my heart……

I want to write this poem. I cannot seem to get the words to come I am thinking in images which is probably good for the long haul process of THIS piece, if I can stick with it long enough to pen some words to the page. I now just list words, feelings, descriptions of what I am seeing. I also know part of the problem is writing about an unfolding rather than a particular place in time or theme.  ‘Hellbender’ had that same quality of writing about an unfolding.  I wove that poem like a spell and perhaps that is the problem here.  The magic of it has escaped me in my desire to have the finished product rather than see where the poem takes me.

Writing is full of twists and turns.  We weave together words for healing, for love, for truth-telling, for romance.  What we weave sometimes ensnare us, for good or ill, and takes us somewhere new and amazing.   In March a poem about the Ozarks brought me to Florida.  Now I sit here, wanting the unfolding because I am desperate to know what is next.

I Write

The absence of updating here has not meant the absence of writing.  In fact, I’ve been writing more than ever.  I’ve been writing and musing on heart-break, on breaking open, on letting go, and on moving on.  I’ve been writing cover letters, resumes, and articles.  I’ve been writing services, trance meditations, and my own journaling.  I’ve been writing poetry here and there.  The latest of which, I bring to you:

I write
Too late at night
When I should be sleeping.
I take my pen to page,
Scribble then begin
To see form
Where words connect
Life and spirit
And reality bends
At my will.

I write
Early in the morning
When I should be showering.
I sit at my keyboard
Clicking out the rhythm
Of morning song
Drifting through my window,
Carried by robins
And the scent of lilac.

I write
Mid-afternoon, after lunch,
When I should be working.
I fade into the white noise
Scratching out the scenes before me,
Like carvings on cave walls.
For others to interpret
And read meaning into
Everyday life.

I write
To meet myself.
Rising up above
What has happened to me.
I author my life,
Give sacrament to it,
And lay it on the altar.
This writing,
This life,
This holy work
It has become.

Voice

Finding the right voice for reading your poetry is important business.   I think of my favorite local poets, Mendy Knott and Leah Gould, both have excellent voice when they perform their work.  The voice for each of them, I’ve noticed, is unique to their performance.  When their poem begins, it’s noted in the tone, accent, and lilt of the voice they speak in.  This is not to say each piece they perform sounds the same.  The pieces seem to have their own flavor as well, but there is some consistency to the voice these poets deliver their work in.

I am still trying to find my performance voice.

I read, and read, and re-read the same poem again and again.  For me, part of the struggle is nerves.  No matter how much I practice delivering a piece or how confident I feel about it in my living room, when I get in front of the mic I lose the voice completely.  I think nerves have a lot to do with this.

While over the years I have developed some comfort with reading pieces in front of an audience, I am still very nervous about mics.  In part this comes from childhood stigmas around being dubbed “loud” by people with disapproving looks on their faces as they admonished me, “Why are you so loud?” or “shhh!”.  I have a pretty naturally loud voice and more so when I’m excited.  I also don’t have a lot of experience with mics.  I fumble with the stand if I am forced to adjust it on my own.  I never know quite how far away to hold my mouth.  I hear some people boom into the mic while others I can barely hear. I can’t seem to discover the formula for speaking clearly while not shouting unknowingly.

My nerves contribute to me rushing through my work.  This is never good.  When you rush through your work, people can’t fully digest your poem.  People want to hear every word.  You want them to hear every word too, otherwise you would have edited some of those words away by this point.

This summer I need to push myself to perform more work in public for the purpose of playing with and finding voice.  I am going to mention this to my writer’s group Friday night as well and hope to work with it some there too.  I’ve also started recording myself reading my poems in various styles.  I record once with a basic reading, give it a listen and then speed it up or slow it down for the next recording.  I just keep tinkering with it until I think I’ve improved it.

I am so proud of how my writing has developed in the last year or so.  I put a lot of effort into taking my talent to write and developing the skill to take it to the next level.  I will continue that development with my work as well, but it’s time to put some of that focus on my performance.  Voice is a good place to start.

 

Catching Up – NaPoWriMo 13, 14, 15

I am playing a little catch up.

DAY 13 —–The prompt for the 13th was to write a ghazal. “This is an old Persian form of poetry, and rather strange if you’re used to European meter-and-rhyme forms. A ghazal is made of couplets. Traditionally, the two lines of the first couplet end with the same word or phrase, and then that same word/phrase is used to end the second line of each succeeding couplet. All of the lines are supposed to be of about the same length, although there is no formal meter or syllable count. If you want to get super traditional/technical, the last couplet is supposed to refer to the poet, either by name, or through some kind of allusion.”

Save, Caroline

Caroline waits tables on weekends, saving her tips
Bites her lip when he slaps her ass, saving her tips

Her feet swollen and stuffed in shoes a size small,
Step quick to get the beer drawn, saving her tips

Dollar store eye make-up hides bags from no sleep
Smile glued on with ruby red gloss, saving her tips

She pays the water bill reconnect fee, buys some beans
Wishes for a bus ticket out of here, saving her tips

Goes home, pours him a beer while he yells at her brother,
Tucks money into an ole’ grease can, saving her tips

He drinks all night, grabs at her, rips her only good dress
She counts her money while she cries, saving her tips

She tells her little brother not to worry, she’ll take him too.
Caroline waits tables this weekend, saving her tips

Day 14 – The prompt is to write a sonnet.  I am TERRIBLE at sonnets and I don’t really enjoy them, but here’s my attempt.

Laura Lye

The clock atop the wall did chime at three
My heart it stood and frozen skipped a beat
And drifted like a ship adrift at sea
For Laura Lye her maker she did meet

Oh Laura Lye, my tender and sweet bride
My sparrow, no more to sing in morning
My soul hath broken on the day you died
Sweet Laura Lye, left without a warning

At night I sit and think for to remember
The sweetness of her lips pressed up to mine
My Laura forever in December
I drown my loneliness in summer wine

Drunk from vine I dream I see her again
Oh Laura Lye, forgive me for my sin

DAY 15 – is to write a parody.  I wrote a parody of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 as a fun tribute to all my gay boyfriends and queer family who have ever loved disco balls and jello shots at 1am.  This can probably be blamed on watching too many Queer Eye reruns lately…

Parody 18

Shall I tell thee how much I love the gays?
Their art and face cream do rejuvenate.
For drag shows each and every Saturday,
She wins the crown to impress her date.
Sometimes too hot, her make-up shines
But 2am bar light is often dimm’d
Bears approach her with a drink, she declines
She likes her boyz a bit more trimm’d
By the time the neon lights do fade
He takes his heels down to the lowest
And disco dances now with his date
And how the rainbow family growest!
As long as men love men, and drag perform
I shall love the gays, just how they were born!

NaPoWriMo Struggle – and a $300 prize

On day 12, NapoWriMo put forth the most ridiculous prompt yet. So much so, that I could not do it. I’ve written poems since then (that are too private for sharing here). So I will consider my day 12 taken care of in my 30/30 challenge.  I will be catching up on days 13-15 tomorrow.  I want to give those prompts more time than I’ve had for it today.

In other news, I am pleased to say I won first place in a local poetry contest.  This really blew my mind.  While I knew this piece was my strongest work, I still did not fully expect to win.  When the third place winner was announced and read her piece, which was quite good, I thought I must not have even placed!  Winning first place is always a big deal (I guess, having never done it before), but winning in a contest with writers of this caliber is really an honor.  The prize was $300 to be put toward furthering the winner’s creativity.  I have yet to decide if my prize money will be taking me to a writing conference or go toward funding a new project I have started.  I am so happy to have money to put toward either endeavor.

 

30/30 #11 Senses

From NaPoWriMo:  “Today’s prompt asks you to write a poem of the five senses. Pick an experience that is very sensory, and of which you have a strong sense memory.”   My poem below is a memory of a first date years ago.
First Date

Moonlight glittered across the lake,
As we listened to the music of
Fish jumping, cicadas singing,
And the occasional snort from
The stallion in the stables.

We sat in easy silence.
You fed me raspberries by hand,
Served with champagne,
And let your finger brush my lips,
Ever so slightly.

As the night wore on,
You wrapped me in your arms
Under the cover of starlight,
Pulling me close to you for warmth.
The smell of home on your skin,
I knew I would never leave.

30/30 #10 Taking What is Found

The writing prompt from NaPoWriMo for today is to steal the first line from another poem and begin your poem with that line.  I chose “I Am Not Yours” by Sarah Teasdale.

 

Taking What is Found

“I am not yours, not lost in you,
not lost, although I long to be”

My heart is not yours,
discarded once, now
living again, moves
through darkness,
into Light.

My mind is not yours,
once consumed by you, now
filled with poets, philosophers,
Free of the dis-ease of
second guessing.

My body is not yours,
your possession once, now
moves freely on the dance floor,
finding my edges
in sure-footed steps.

No, “I am not yours, not lost in you
not lost, although I long to be.”

The sun, too bright
some days, leaves me
longing for the shadow
of being at your side,
lost in you.

It was easier to fade
than be here; courting joy
but also heartache, as lovers
in a life built around
being found.

I lean in, refusing
to paint it other than it was
beautiful and ugly,
everything and nothing,
I put away longing.

“I am not yours, not lost in you
not lost –“