This is a little less poetic, and a little more essay, but I have not had time to write as I would have liked, and this is what wanted to be written tonight.
As I listened to Nikia Chaney
describing her desire to give fear
a face and make it known through writing,
I was transported to a primitive place
surrounded by darkness and unknown dangers
lurking in the shadows, clicking and clawing
at the recesses of my mind, and I realized
that early man lived in fear of the unknown.
How comforting it must have been to
name those sounds and be calmed by knowledge.
How words evolved into story telling,
which begat ethos and mythos.
How powerful it is to name our fears,
suddenly bringing them out into the open,
confronting them and finding there is nothing.
To deny the right to utter a name
like JHVH, or He Who Shall Not Be Named,
takes us back to our primal fear,
to deny our voices the right to speak
our truths is to live in fear.
my mother must have doted
over my little baby feet
just as i have with my child.
counting tiny toes, caressing
arches that had not yet walked,
pressing them gently
into soft clay.
she even saved my first ceramic vase.
i was so excited to make it for her,
rolling the hard pottery clay
into snake-like ropes, coiling
them into a tower, painting it
with blue and pink and white.
i was eager to see it fired
in the kiln, to see her shine
when she filled it with flowers.
i was sad to see how my tower
melted in the heat, and leaned
to one side, the coils shifting
and cracking open until
it could not hold water.
the colors muted and dull.
but my mother did not mind.
i was always embarrased to see
that vase proudly displayed
on the bookshelf, next to
the pictures of our ancestors.
it was still there
as i packed up
her body melted
and cracked open
in the heat of a kiln,
sending her atoms
back to the earth
to make new clay.
maybe next time she can
stand straight and shine
with bright colors
lost in plain sight
people keep getting lost in plain sight.
like the man, right here on Mt Rubidoux,
trapped for six days, 100 feet from the trail.
how could hundreds of people pass by every day
and not notice a man was calling for help.
how could no-one have noticed he was missing
and gone out looking for him?
i keep getting lost in plain sight,
trapped in the darkness of my mind,
unheard by people passing by me,
no-one noticing that i am missing.
i am here…
I was enjoying a Sister Spit performance at UCR tonight, which connected me with a memory about chalkboards, and how sometimes people write their secrets on them, secrets they can’t hold inside of them any longer for fear they will split in two.
Jeg går i seng med min lærer
someone thought they were sneaky,
writing their secret in Danish
on a study lounge chalkboard
at the university where i work.
i chuckle and helpfully
translate it to english
I am sleeping with my teacher
i wish i could have seen
their face when they saw it.
i wrote my own secret
on a different chalkboard:
My mother died two weeks ago,
I still cry every day.
it doesn’t need translation,
i wish i could have seen
the moment when someone
had the strength to erase it.
maybe it would help me forget
watching her slip away.
For my first poem for NaPoWriMo (National Poem Writing Month) challenge I wanted to write about SUNDOGS. Capitalized here because I stumbled upon this word while playing Words With Friends, and then wanted to know what it was. As it turns out, sundogs are “ghost suns” caused by icy crystals in the air acting as prisms and creating additional images of the sun in the sky. Check out Wikipedia for some great images, and historical references to how ancient people thought they were either bad omens, or good omens, depending on their personal outlook on life.
I knew I wanted to write a poem about sundogs, which got me thinking about what they meant to me. I latched onto the idea of the pagan/spiritual “familiar”, which is, typically, an animal spirit. I also thought about how pets are a form of “familiar”, and that often pets look like their owners, and how people latch onto things that feel more “familiar”.
which is a whole lot of backstory for a very short poem:
look at their faces,
and i see my own.
look into their eyes,
i see mine reflected.
the devil gave them
to do my bidding.
they flank my sides,
faithful and loyal.
they rise with me
in the morning,
and return to earth
with me at night.