Once

I’ve heard sometimes

the only way out is through

when there are no safe places

but outside your head and

you wanna be brave

because you wanna be known

because you don’t wanna be scared

all the faces will never come off

 

Touch him

Tell him it’s not him

Name him

Silence wakes into a bass drum

slow and smooth and hard

he names you too

he touches you

transparent sets of hands

maybe that kind

reaches you finally-

dropping out with a voice this time

leave it up to me this time

 

let’s be beautiful once

 

a shared vacancy

is all I can ask for

and even then that’s not enough

 

is it

 

to keep away the sleep.

 

This is the damage you

have to swallow.

 

Weren’t we beautiful once

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Healing

Before I began to heal,

I wasn’t angry

I couldn’t touch it

because that required will

and a kind of

passion to move.

You gotta outsmart

your wounds

and that’s where I started

burning.

Trauma doesn’t

run its course

and return you.

You don’t bloom from it.

You do inspite of it.

And there is something

to be said about a body

that keeps moving.

Human Cylinders in parts, Mina Loy

Human Cylinders

(my favorite parts of the mysterious poem anyway)

by Mina Loy

The human cylinders

Although born in England, Mina Loy worked as a poet and visual artist in Paris, Florence, and New York City, where her beauty and outlandish behavior shone at the center of several avant-garde circles. The eccentric vocabulary and syntax of Loy’s free-verse poems and their sardonic treatment of love can puzzle and offend, but no reader can question the work’s originality nor the poet’s fierce intelligence.
1882-1966–The Poetry Foundation

Revolving in the enervating dusk

That wraps each closer in the mystery
Of singularity
Among the litter of a sunless afternoon
Having eaten without tasting
Talked without communion
And at least two of us
Loved a very little
Without seeking
To know if our two miseries
In the lucid rush-together of automatons
Could form one opulent wellbeing ….
Simplifications of men
In the enervating dusk
Your indistinctness
Serves me the core of the kernel of you
When in the frenzied reaching out of intellect to intellect
Leaning brow to brow       communicative
Over the abyss of the potential
Concordance of respiration
Shames
Absence of corresponding between the verbal sensory
And reciprocity
Of conception
And expression
Where each extrudes beyond the tangible
One thin pale trail of speculation
From among us we have sent out
Into the enervating dusk ……
….The impartiality of the absolute
Routs      the polemic
Or which of us
Would not
Receiving the holy-ghost
Catch it      and caging
Lose it
Or in the problematic
Destroy the Universe
With a solution…
Mina Loy, “Human Cylinders” from The Last Lunar Baedeker

To Something New, Something Strange

 

This strange winter has offered a lot of my favorite kind of days–the kind where the sun is blinding, an almost cold light, yet it warms the wooden floor beneath my socks, my large windows in this old house give me a 360 view of the white, bald landscape of glitter. The abandoned church across the intersection on my quiet avenue juts up white into the blue-cold sky. I can see it from here as I write. It was around 15 degrees this dotmorning when I walked to my appointment. And pushing the frozen steps and treads behind me, the familiar feeling I so love comes back to me, as it always does when I walk, which began and became a sort of meditation for me over a year agdot3o. My mind sort of starts to forget the temperature, and begins to notice the precision in icicles, the light coming up reflecting and drowning in the crystal, aligned perfectly yet different, on the silent porches I pass. The pines that overpopulate my little town are too frozen to feel the full weight of the mounds of snow on their branches, frozen in their bowing. And I watch for a few certain things: rhythm, juxtapositions, and the stunning mathematical symmetry–the geometry of nature. The perfectly aligned needles, the color they have faded to against the backdrop of a white wooden fence dulled by the season and weather, a whole other world of gray, and the skeletal branches of the burning bushes that line this one avenue like crayola brains, their branches now grayish brown and articulate and criss-crossing and of some design that is as old as the earth. The bird’s chorus, patterned to their chaos at that certain moment in morning. There is geometry all around us. And maybe it is just in this form or state of mind that I find it all so simple and yet sacred, there for anyone who sees it.

Once I hum along the streets to this rhythm of breathing and noticing and even pausing some times, that’s when my mind starts to open. And it occurred to me in a sort of unfolding a sort of truth I’ve known but never worded for something about the past couple years: I have been given a second chance–a second chance at giving this life a go, at becoming a woman from a new identity I held onto or dreamed up when all I was ended in that mental hospital, and kept leaving me for a year or two afterwards. It was death every day for a very long time. And this small part of me woke up every day and kept going, getting up every morning through the dark and then into the nothingness after the dark, and then into finding purpose, where I began making subconscious decisions as to what purpose I felt was mine–so many. I went from silence for over two years to a sort of coming to at the reflection of gray blowing branches in the puddle I moved around. How I had stopped and watched the sky reflect in it, and then I stared at the water itself and watched it stream down the avenue, and I heard it trickle into the gutter like a summer downpour Read More

Rummaging Pays

I have been rummaging through all my words, all my pieces, all my prose and thoughts and themes and connecting vignettes and essays and poems for years—rummaging like a garage-saler on dexi’s frantically looking for that one thing, that illumination, thee connection, the answer to what is going to contain it all and make it flow and shine in a brilliance I need to feel. And I need to feel it because I need to know, as only writing has ever shown me, who I am. It has occurred to me over extensive self-examination, watching myself, paying attention to my body and thoughts, voice, and what excites me and what tires me—studying form and reading memoirs and pieces I “should” read as it is “recommended,” looking for groups, swapping with friends tired old pieces, re-editing instead of remaking—I even got to the point of ALMOST paying for a “coach” or editor to help me make sense of this unorganized fuckpool of words. I know what I am saying, but I don’t. And I was getting so tired of it that way, I realized I had been forcing myself into a direction, forcing myself to hold that narrative arc, to find chronology, to have a somewhat steady or at least an almost healthy-sounding pace and tone, keeping it on an even keel.

And then it occurred to me.

I am going against my own grain.

I asked myself what I do love, what writing and reading makes my heart pound and makes me excited and nervous? What kind of writing was I doing when I wrote that exciting as hell essay that Word Riot published? Why do I feel like I am smothering as a writer when I have so much meaner things to say, blunter, more crude, more REAL—because life is that way. Dirty and beautiful. That is the kind of writer I am, and not being that way was killing me. And trying to force all of this into the memoir genre was doing it. Because I assumed maybe that’s what I was—a memoir writer.

I looked around and rummaged through all my things. Again.

And again.

And noticed, first, that I hadn’t felt nervous energy and excitement in what I had been reading and writing in a long time–not since I wrote “Something Dark Like Jazz” for Word Riot. That was like a brain orgasm, the whole process.  And I decided I am never going to not write like that again. Granted a lot of my pieces (essay chunks and vignettes) similarly made my heart pound–well-thought out ones as well as muse-infused ones, but those were written a long time ago, I just kept rewriting, pulling up the doc, deleting an extra comma. That kind of crap.

So I wrote down all the things I have read that blew my mind or caused that nervous feeling–writers, books, poems, musicians, pieces from blogs and sites and journals and I wrote down all the ones that made me excited-some, thrilled–that that kind of writing was possible. Then I also considered the fact that I have PTSD, I have a history, my memory has large blocks that are missing. I know those parts of my story by my body memories and old flashbacks I am not afraid of anymore. Why then would I write a chronological story?-and one that can’t be contained in just a window’s view of it because there’s too much, spilling into autobiography. As I  finished my list, I looked up their names and where they’d been recently published and who was published alongside them. Who they connected to, and then I’d find other pieces I liked, (all essay basically, and well written fast-paced articles), and peculiar things kept happening, like finding Radiohead, Jack White, and Joan Didion on one page…whaaaat. All of this spun  into one thing, one direction, one answer–they were all essayists. I have been writing my memoir in what I thought were unfinished chunks I couldn’t connect to with a simple “and then one day…” etc., -and some of those chunks have been published stand-alone.

My god. I’ve been doing essay all this time, thinking I was doing it all wrong, and it wasn’t just fitting me somehow, studying the shit out of memoir “how-to’s” out of desperation in an uninspired, shitty mood. Later on I perused The Essay Review and read David Lazaar’s essay and several others. I fell in love eighty times in one reading session. I. Have. Found. My. People.

Amy

The Gray Areas

 d550914740a6da1814e934fe173e16b7

My post after considering “Kerry’s Word Family Post” at Real Toads.

I am going to run with this idea because there are two things I want to write about (and each one is a prompt from someone or someplace else).  I am going with an ambiguous scene between two potential lovers, also using the word family of “Ambiguous.”

here goes, not sure what I’m going to do ….first draft :

We are in that grey area aren’t we, I am asking. In the beginning it was easy-applying the hard fact of you to a tender space in my toughened gut, not as a salve, but as if it had belonged, all along. And I question now if what had belonged all along is really only the part of me you brought out, and I hadn’t seen it. And to resemble what is in your eyes–that is something.

Calculated and cool, punctual and all equations, coming through the theater doors up the aisle from me, I see your dark silhouette from this empty stage with the curtains left open for you  –the dancer sitting at the lip of the stage, shoes off, hair undone, audience dispersed, incandescent lighting turned to the stark overheads that show every blemish, every wrinkle. You see me this way and I hold my breath, the ever-present fear a lover will see nothing and you have made up an illusion, a self-evident pill you must swallow that you may have stopped being honest with yourself. It happens, when you depend on someone to charm you–as you age the real charm is the ambiguity and complexity of being an honest, real, flawed, disordered, loud, quiet self.

I see myself clearly through your eyes, and as I am only learning to love and appreciate what I have become by my hand’s design, you, though have I never admitted, have rendered me speechless and swelling when
you value my worth in comments you do not realize you are making–as if you know deeply that I already know these things–that I am smart, that I understand, that I …am maybe beautiful. We do not question each other, but challenge only ourselves. To be better.

You move toward the stage and then it is not a stage but we are on a steady plane and no one else is there, dropping my notions of romance and love long ago, I merely want to be seen as an equal, exposing every scar, every embarrassment, every vulnerability, every secret of a strength to you. Not for you. To you. And that is the difference–your reactions are yours and I am not to be measured by them. I am not asking you to accept me, I am saying this is me, these are the facts, these are the equivocations of all I’ve been through, all I’ve felt, and beneath those there is much more, as the evidence cannot lie, and maybe

maybe,

maybe you’d like to see what happens within a mind and body when it decides what to do with all these fragments and parts that make up my mind and heart. Maybe you are curious how I love. You missed the recital. But maybe.

I’ve watched you watch me for a while now. And we still circle the arena, perhaps both a little too cautious for something that feels far too good.  And this distance, and stance, I find I am not pulling myself together because myself is this solid thing now, sutured together at the many people I thought I was. And you’re the first person that sees me. You see me. And it’s enough to catch my breath, knowing I am not invisible. That I am somebody.

And the dance of words begins, every secret we tell is behind the letters–hidden in word placement in the sentence, in the alliteration and roots, in the tone of voice, in the cadence, in the best words not chosen so as not to reveal too much.

I cannot tell where these conversations stop and I start; I cannot tell if you worded my mind into collective adjectives or if I want to kiss you.

Save

Save

What Do You Believe In

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I believe in. Faith is not a decision. I think it’s whatever guides you in your secret corners and what you feel when you are either terrified or enamored or content. I was raised Catholic-Catholic School until 8th grade. I studied Judaism, Islam, and Christianity in college and studied Taoism and Buddhism on my own when a while after the break down. My sister and I were talking about our dad’s death and how we find comfort in it. She said she will see him in heaven. I was kind of surprised at that thinking. I guess because a large part of me felt the scary roots of existentialism when I went mad.

I know two things about myself.

I’ve dreamt (is it dreamed or dreamt?) about a hand with an eye on it since I was a teen-never knew what it was or why. Dreamt about it again before my first break down in my twenties, and then again as I healed. So I looked it up.

divinehennaHamsa. The Hand of Fatima. The protection from the evil eye. The hand with the eye in it is a symbol throughout many religions (including Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism and Jainism). This just fascinates me. It is very much a feminine symbol.

The other thing I know is that when I was in a bad state, maybe several  months after getting out of the bin, I hadn’t written in years. And I woke up one night and wrote a poem to Jesus Christ. And I cried and felt something–like gratitude. I knew I was going to make it, and that I wasn’t alone. In the hospital I saw something vast and empty–a godless world. It was horrifying. HORRIFYING. I realized my idea of faith had been utterly shattered. For awhile…

My mother has been asking me to go to Adorations at church Monday mornings. I won’t go for one reason–the few times I have gone to mass I do everything I can in there to keep it together and not cry. And it’s tears of love and home and survival. Surviving–how do we do it?

My daughter told me she didn’t think she had courage. I added to a letter I am saving for her for her 21st birthday what I feel about courage:

“You told me you didn’t think you were courageous. But Emma, you won’t know your own strength until it is called on. You will surprise yourself. Strength doesn’t require a good past or a bad past. It requires how much you love yourself, how much you want to survive the obstacle. A passion to endure.”

I do believe every religion and faith centers around the same concept. You have to look past all the crap that has been muddying it. The point of them is the same. It’s also like science. Religion and science are brother and sister in my opinion. But what is it you settle down with at night?

I see my faith in the way early spring morning walks smell, and lilacs that take me back to when I was five, before damage occurred. I see it in my daughter and how I love her and in turn, love myself. I see it the prophets I recognize. I see it in the long winding up and down crazy psychotic loving path between my mother and I. I hear it in my grandmother’s voice I can still hear even though she is gone. I see it in the depth of the hell I was in–the dark is the light, the light is the dark. Everywhere there are openings and answers without words. The point is to face every fear, every passion, every question, every desire, everything within us, because we are human and to deny all of ourselves is a good way to stay trapped.

 

Song of the Day

doesn’t get hotter than this

Writing and Music

There is just something that happens to me with music like this–acoustic and live, the way he spits out the meaning to the song vocally. It’s raining and gloomy today and I am in my element, writing and listening to this over and over. It started with an early morning walk in the rain listening to Radiohead’s National Anthem, and I ended up finding this when I got home. I am smitten. Guitar has always felt like some form of writing to me–if I could make my memoir a song, oh how amazing that would be to create. I was inspired by how acoustic guitar and memoir connect by a video I saw on Vimeo–a beautiful song played as a tribute to a friend who passed away. The song flowed like water, like the sea, like the stories of ourselves.

That Radiohead song is what got me thinking–because I love writing about music, to music, with music. I’ve written many poems and essays that include music and lyrics, like Beauty Walks a RAzor’s Edge (an essay about my best friend with severe arthritis set to Bob Dylan lyrics), Something Dark Like Jazz, She’s Come Undone, and oh there’s more somewhere.  Most all of my essays and memoir refers to music I grew up to, like The Oak Ridge Boys, Eddie Rabbitt, Deep Purple, Carly Simon, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Nitty Gritty Dirty Band, The Guess Who (Undun–and I saw them live and lost my damn mind at Rockfest).

Radiohead’s song “National Anthem” is truly art in my opinion. The backdrop, steady bass is the only sane part to all the chaotic jazz letting loose in the song, but eventually somehow that steady heavy bass becomes the insanity. It reminds me of how you feel like you are holding it together, and the very steady thing you tell yourself to make yourself feel right and true to yourself is actually a rhythm you dissociate in, like that bass, and your thoughts are that chaotic mass of jazz and trombone and sax. But then a moment hits you–you are walking in the rain downtown at five in the morning and you are suddenly just a bystander–a camera to the landscape, the feel, the smells, and your own solitaire body in the street. And that always brings a kind of calm, and then a bit of awareness. The bass I’d been guiding myself by for a little while was far more fucked up than the truth, and the truth is that I am a chaotic person–in an organized way-ahahahhah. Okay, let’s just say I am a late bloomer, I am 35 and only now figuring out who the hell I am and I am solid and confident. I know it’s a lifetime’s journey, but it’s nice to finally own myself. I am also awakening to parts of myself I never knew existed. I am also finally well enough to note my responses and behaviors and reactions and accord them to how I want to be and feel, and I adapt to what serves me. These are all big new things for me, so yes. The “healing” has been well on it’s way for a long time. Now I’m sort of… I wrote a sexy, dark poem the other day (Paramour, My Lover) for the Real Toads blog, and I am surprised first, by how quickly and naturally it came out. I wrote it seconds after I read the blog prompt, it’s the first draft, and I hit “publish” before I could think twice. And I am glad I did. My appetites are…peculiar, but in no way does my past cripple me sexually anymore. Nor fear. I am…hungry. There is something so freeing for me now that I am finally opened to what I’d always been afraid of–sexuality. And back to the Paramour poem, I am also surprised I am not ashamed or embarrassed to share it. It’s a part of me.

I have rambled long enough but it was nice. Take care everyone.