Metros and Oceans

Photo by Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash

Dona always says she likes to listen to poetry, not read it so much. Most of the time I disagree because I read way more poetry than listen to it. I get my doses from Poetry Off The Shelf and a few other places where I hear poems, but for the most part, I consume it, eating it up mouthfuls at a time from the page. I eat it up like I do cold cereal, a little sloppy at times, sometimes way too big of a spoonful, and there will be a drip of milk somewhere.

But every once in a while I come across a poem that I hear read and it hits you and stays with you for days, or years. Currently I have one poem that has been with me for at least two years. On the Metro, by C.K. Williams. I heard it on Poetry Off The Shelf, of course, and it was read in such a way that I listened to it. Over, and over, and over. I never take it off my mp3 player, and I can honestly say that next to Billy Collins’ Tuesday, June 4, 1991 and Ada Limon’s How To Triumph Like A Girl, it is at the top of my list of favorite poems that I just cannot live without. Though honestly, I can hear the readers voice dripping out of the speakers and it just might far be the best poem I’ve ever heard read.

I love how the words just pull you in and you picture exactly what is happening and it’s all so real. Not a lot of poems do that for me, though many of Ada Limon’s do. I want to feel like I am a fly on the wall.

Well, today was another day where I heard a poem that was just so astoundingly perfect. Another episode of Poetry Off The Shelf and just an amazing poem by Jack Spicer. “Any fool can get into an ocean . . .”. Just the title alone drags you right in. But you must hear it read right. Both links, if you click on them, should take you right to the reading of the poem. You can search the Jack Spicer poem on The Poetry Foundation website, but I prefer the reading on the Poetry off the Shelf version.

Any poem that involves a goddess kind of drags me in. Blame it on all the Greek myths. Anyways, I’m totally understanding why Dona says she wants poetry read out loud. I’ve fallen in love with a few more poems lately since I started listening to a Poetry Unbound podcast and even going over already listened to episodes of Poetry off the Shelf.

I urge you to take a gander at these two poems. And let me know what you think. I’d also love to know of any poems that you need to hear outloud. Share them with me. Youtube has some great poems to listen to as well.

Kate

If A Cowboy Picked Up A Handkerchief – Poem

Photo by Mubariz Mehdizadeh on Unsplash A modern Cowboy?

There’s this guy I like. But sliding into his DM’s so did not work. So, once this Covid thing is over, I don’t suspect anything will ensue. But for the last month, since I knew where he lived, and where his parents lived I figured I might just see him passing the highway when I walk. Why I would assume the time I walked would be “The” time makes no sense.  But since when does fascination ever have any sanity. And there I was, every day, glancing up at every truck that whizzed on by.

 

If A Cowboy Picked Up A Handkerchief

Every day I walk, to the highway
where when a truck barrels down the blacktop
I look up hoping it’s him.
Just to wave and give my heart a boost of giddiness.
A touch of wishful thinking.
It’s not like I have a chance.
Since sliding into his DM’s was a complete splat—
A faceplant. A trip made on flat ground.
A wobbly ankle in stiletto heels—
How do you know if he likes you?
If you have to ask, then maybe you should
move along, pardner.
He ain’t gonna tip his hat at you, ma’am,
or pick up that hanky you just had to happen to drop
in front of his horse.
More n’ likely the horse is gonna pick it up
munch on the lace and linen.
Considering he’s a bit of a pie bald bug-eyed crazy cracked in the head
crazy son of a gun of a horse.
Maybe his cowboy is a two-bit crazy too.

Kate

A Ripple of Distortion – Poem

It’s so weird. Tax day came and went, the three month mark of my grandmother’s death is today, I need to talk to Jersey Boy about coming back to work, Covid-19 has taken it’s toll on the country. I fight against my body. My sugars dropping every day as I become more and more like my father. Menopause makes me moody. I forgot that when I talked to Nathan this last week and mentioned I was moody on Easter. I forget that I can go from bright and cheery to gray cloud and teary in a flash. As fast as my sugar falls. Hostess Extraodinaire, I need Pepsi, stat!  No, I just need normal.

I combined all thoughts and it kind of flowed into this poem that while not perfect, has it’s points. We all feel a little indecisive. And poet Susan Wooldridge challenged me last year to write a poem about lettuce. I never got around to having anything that worked, until adding it into this gem today. So much is in here, unpacked, emotional. I know Christa would understand. Dona and Mels too.

And for a chuckle, watch this bit from an old NBC show called  Ed. It explains a line from this poem.

Photo by Jordan McDonald on Unsplash

A Ripple of Distortion

It’s tax day, but taxes aren’t due.

Overcast — the sky is more subdued
less spangle sparkle bright — perfect.

I wake up praying. Things are so uncertain.

A line of wobbly silver reflection run down the page
a mosaic of reflection as effective as a rippling pool
distortion is only as good as the subject known
A cow could be a boulder
a tree turns to a feather

What if I’m not who I seem to be?
Maybe I’m not who you’ve ever known

Plant lettuce seed, it looks like a weed
until it has three fourfivesix leaves
say it funny, Le-toose, it’s not what it seems till it is.

What have I become? Where do I fit in ?
I bite, snarl, fall apart into a puddle of razor blade teeth.
Sugar coat me and I’ll be as sweet as the sun is fierce.
Take me out in the rain, I melt
you see the rust hiding under a silk exterior

I’m a heartbeat of uncertainty
a weight of indecision
my feet slap the pavement
I’ve walked more miles than you could imagine
wearing a hole in the asphalt,
a groove runs down my pat
parallel to the imaginary yellow lines.

I’m wobbly two faced in the tiled reflection
Two things at war.
Let me get back to the thick of things.
Or let me sit in the sun and take in all the sky has to pour down on me.

Move Forward In Grace – Poem

When I write something good, I hate to post it here because I think, Ooh, maybe I can submit it. But I think right now while we are all a little anxious, we could all use a little poetry in our lives. I hope this all means something for each one of you.

Photo by Matthias Müllner on Unsplash

I read an Instagram post about how we all need a little extra grace these days. If that isn’t the truth!  And if you know anything about ravens, they are solitary creatures. I think writers gravitate towards ravens. Poe, well, he was best known for them. But I love them. All of their aspects and they chatter out this wooden marimba sound when they are in trees. It sounds like they are playing instruments. I love hearing it. I channeled a bit of Cinderella, and Lucy from It’s Christmas, Charlie Brown, and all kinds of thoughts. Short, but sweet.

Moving Forward in Grace

Now in the key of raven,
Sing sweet nightingale, sing sweet–
No no! That isn’t it at all.
While spring is in the lawnside violets
Granite snow and ice hunker down up on highest peaks
Topsy-turvy is how we all feel right now.
Let’s all give each other some extra grace
Pulled out of a pocket, see, shiny as a raven’s treasure
All in the key of raven now,
We tinker, we give, we’ve become solitary birds
We fly solo back to our roots
Don’t forget to shed those black feathers when the sun comes out!
And the old pine sits there in a setting sun
Maybe we can all move forward with a bit of grace
Some for you, some for me, go crazy and grab a handful of starbright wishes
You can’t have a monopoly on too much kindness.

Kate

2 AM Is For – Poem

This is something from puttering around with all kinds of thoughts in the last week and a half. From meeting this guy that I just now can’t get to know for a bit…. Thank you Covid-19, I hate you right now.  To big 1980s hair and makeup and smelling my grandparents cabin in an instant déjà vu moment. The lava soap on the counter, Irish Spring soap in a metal shower. And well, wishing for a little more than I have right now. Ah, spring is in the air. Here I go again.

2AM Is For

Smell Lava soap , a linger of a déjà vu of a memory
Stepping into the side door of the cabin’s
washroom
mudroom
bathroom
laundryroom
to the upstairs and all else room
Concrete sinks, and propane and the old wood and canned food pantry
Lingering odors
When 2 AM rolls around and the Irish Spring bubbles spiral
down the metal shower drain
spreadsheets have been left behind, sitting open on a screen
Orderly columns and rows, lists for this, itemized for that—
For standing naked in a mirror, curls bouncing on your shoulders
a nineteen eighties fashion girl, big makeup, big hair
Maybe he’s watching a film
Maybe you’re hoping for more than might be there
But you wear your hair down a little more, a little longer
Maybe he’s drinking that drink you wish you were sharing
And you dress a little more carefully
2 AM isn’t for the mundane, it’s for the magic
Past the witching hour,
When all the poets are awake
When night air slips in through screens
Taste the ice on the tongue, mountain’s metal coldness a cold cloak
To your Gypsy’s hide, it’s been tanned smoothed down soft and skin fresh
Aquamarine earrings swing back and forth
Put on a little Pharrell and dance around naked
Your unbridled you, that part of yourself you hide all day
Moonlight could be your sunlight
You are the alive in these waking hours
a longing for something to happen
when colors and magic spells flow
out of your fingers and the air shakes and shimmers around you
Spin out, spin around, dress in silks and feathers,
2 AM is the time to roost and let the whispers in
let the shimmering bubbles slide down the drain
2 AM is for…

“I Adore Order…” – Poem

‘I adore order,’ she says, but as things start to slide-
‘as you can see, I’m anything but orderly!’
Distracted, absentminded, I may love Mise en Place,
but damn if I can stay en place…

Drawers open, contents spilling outward

socks
handkerchiefs
lacy underthings

counters linger in disarray,

notes
loose cash
rhinestone jewels

flashing amongst miscellany
I tweak her OCD, cluttered and disorganized
the dough is kneading in a mixer as I race
out to stoke a fire leaving a wake of flour
She follows behind organizing, straightening
Opposites attract, north and south magnets

You know, the hardest part of my life is putting myself away.
Close a drawer, put the feather earrings away.
There is a lone bobby pin on a shelf
And a lone coffee cup, mostly empty, lipstick imprint
sitting on a table, or the front desk as I make my way
out the door and breezing off to another place
where my en place is not in place…

Kate

We Are Not Friends, But He Is Home – Prose

Photo by PHUOC LE on Unsplash

We are not friends. We are not lovers. We are something unknown. Standing side by side as confidants, secure in our random trust for each other. He is the strength and knowledge. The quiet before the storm. I am the storm. The whirlwind force. I am the fighting words, he is the calming down. He is the soft and waiting, I am the ready and diving in. Opposites attract, they say. We couldn’t be more different. Or more alike. He’s the future, I’m the past, or the present, or maybe I am the future. He’s tall, I am short. Side by side we stand arms intertwined. He leads, I follow. I direct, he bows down. It’s more than two people. It’s one entity standing against what? Who is to know. We aren’t friends just yet. Barely do I know more than his name, or the way he takes his coffee. But I know he has the world at his fingertips. He’s the answers. I’m the questions. We aren’t lovers. Though we could be. He’s the flowing winds. I’m the earth beneath your feet. Standing on a pedestal, he is king. Seated on a throne, I am a queen. Give and take, push and pull, I’d trust him with my life. We are not friends, but we will be one. We are not the lovers, yet we shall love. He bows to me, and I to him. He is home, and safety and rest. I am sleep, and strength and beginnings. We’ll step forth into the storm, a rock, marble, nothing tumbling us. We are the beginning.

 

I had this super vivid dream yesterday morning that left me kind of reeling. Where I met this man who was like this gentle giant. Tall, like really tall, like my head came only to the middle of his chest. And we barely knew each other, but we were going to work with each other and I was going to help him become this classically handsome guy, classy, and wearing button downs and sweaters and ties and looking all nerdy cute because he wrote for a newspaper. And we just had this connection and it was lovely, and I woke up wishing I could meet him because he was perfect, and it was the two of us against the world. So, I wrote something tonight. Whatever it is. Prose, poetry, fiction. Take it as you will. It was all lovely.

Sigh.

Kate

Sex is Food is Life – Poem

Chefs say food is sexy;
maybe they mean sex on a plate.
Each drizzle of sauce; a finger wipes up a loose drop.
The Mayans
or was it the Aztecs?
believed blood was their life force,
the Romans, water, wine, and God.
I am nothing more than art deco in the wrong time
except for the cigarette in my mouth
the one I don’t smoke but have sampled
from the one you took a drag on, the taste still warm.
I crave oysters, but I can’t eat them.
Filling my body with a poison, I vomit the sea,
the life force, emptied from my body
never more shall I taste it.
Water cures all your ails.
Cry, sweat, or go to the sea.
I say, it’s not just water, but salt water.
I dream of food, never tasting.
I don’t mean I wish to eat,
I dream, fantastical things where food is the bite,
the taste of bon amis.
I sink my teeth into a problem and bite down.
I don’t taste my creations but for the finger
swirled on a plate to catch a last drop.
My sex life is the same.

Writing For Yourself

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I’m actually writing a non cooking thing right now. Sound the horns. No, but seriously, I was thinking about this earlier last week when I found myself writing something I’ll probably never show anyone. When do you write for yourself?

As a writer, everything is for myself, to some degree, however, I do consider who the reader might be. I am a poet, so I think poetically. I’m an essayist, so I consider the form. I write fiction for who might read it within the genre that it fits. At some point, everything is written for the reader. But what about writing just for yourself? Something that will only be for you to look back on. Be it essay, poetry, fiction, flash fiction, even non fiction.

I had a very vivid dream the other night that was one of those ones where you sit going, damn I wish I didn’t wake up. It was that good. So I am turning it into something just for me to enjoy and read again. There is no prerogative other than just writing down an event. But I feel kind of guilty that it’s only for me. I’m sure I could turn it into something for fiction, but I don’t plan to. But can you just write just for yourself?

I’m sure all my writer friends would say yes, but tell me honestly, do you ever just sit down and write for just your eyes only? Or do you have a prerogative of some point?

I kind of wonder if this is why I have that writer’s block problem, which currently I do. I’m worried so much about who the finished product is for, that I’ve stopped writing for myself. The irony on this post comes after picking up Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.  I need to stop coming to the page with this plan to write something specific. I need to just write. I wanted to write a poem about the snow falling today, but I didn’t want to write a poem about snow falling, because it wasn’t working. Then I thought, why not just write down the words that fit what I was thinking

snow     needles     sun globe     marshmallow      shadow      lemon fuzz      reflection       gray     blue     ice      water       glitter      mist     metal    cold      Shakespeare      Dante     Nathan     Chicago      friends      lonely     walking     family     Colorado     western

I am sure I could file all of those words and thoughts crashing through my head as I walked with my mom into a poem. Something that might not mean much, but turns out into something for just me, or maybe eventually someone else. But who cares if it is for someone?  That was why I wrote the character sketch that was the previous post. It was just something that I could get out for fun.

Is anyone else getting stuck writing lately? I spend more time writing in my head. As I sift flour for cakes, toss a round of pizza dough up, stoke a fire, look out a restaurant window, lying in bed at night, listening to a Billie Eilish song…. (Bad Guy is playing right now). My writing is stuck in my head. How do you get it out?  I wish our writing ideas were like the stuff in Harry Potter where the memories are pulled out to view. Only onto the page. Ha! Wouldn’t that be fun?

Kate