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Larger than Life

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a monster poem, as in monsters, not as in a gigantic poem, and hopefully not as in a monstrous poem.  No matter which, it’s still challenging to think of.  Meanwhile, it’s almost the end of April, and my month of Aruns will be coming to an end.  I think this has been the easiest month of poems for me in all the years I’ve taken this challenge, and that is surely because I haven’t been beating myself up about not being a poet.  Crazy that I could have made my work so much more difficult every other year simply because I couldn’t step aside and just let the writing happen.  Ridiculous.  It will be interesting to see if I can magically fall into this calm space next April when I take up the baton again.

Today I stayed in “art day” mode a little longer, enjoying a much-needed writing date with my friend Sonia.  I spent some time on the writing process post I’m scheduled to put up tomorrow and on sketching out the thumbnails of one of the comics I want to submit for my VONA workshop.  And — bonus — I got to catch up with Sonia, drink some excellent pomegranate tea, and have a yummy chickpea salad for lunch.

Then I walked across town to get to my train … and saw how changed that part of Manhattan is, saw the in-process destruction of several buildings I have memories in.  I know change is inevitable, and I know that it can also be good.  But sometimes … sometimes it really isn’t.

Monsters

My
city –
devoured.
By greed, by shiny
metal and glass. New
heights,
new life,
new city …
And left to live
behind the shadows:
poor,
hidden,
lives that don’t count.
Unfashionable.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received almost half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Today was an art day!

I spent part of my day at the Industry City Open Studios event.  I did and didn’t enjoy it.  The bar was high, I’ll admit.  TheGo Brooklyn project was such a pleasure, yesterday’s event would have had to do some work to equal that.  Okay, but really, not that much work.  I didn’t have a WOW! moment at any point during the day, however, and that was disappointing, but I did see a handful of artists whose work I very much enjoyed, including one whose work I will save up for to purchase for myself and another whose work I’ll definitely be purchasing as a gift for my brother.  Mostly what I came away with was the sense that you have to be an artist with money to work in Industry City.  There was clearly a much more commercial feel to yesterday’s tour than to any of the spaces I visited during Go Brooklyn.  And there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone needs to eat.  The feeling is different.  That’s all.

After Open Studios, I headed south east to spend a couple of hours with Naima (my writing mentee).  We worked on the science journalism piece she is preparing for her portfolio, and I discovered a science question I have that it might be interesting to investigate.  We also talked about her plans for college and what internship she might be interested in for next year.  For six months out of her junior year, her schedule will be modified to include an internship.  She is torn — engineering, interior design, medicine, community work.  Medicine is a new one.  She’s never mentioned an interest in it before today.  When I asked her about it, she looked a little sheepish.  “I don’t know if I really want to be a doctor, but my mom is talking a lot about it now.  She says it would be good for me.”  We’ll see if that one sticks.  The first two seem to be her real interests.

And now I’m on the train, soon to be on the bus, heading home and thinking poetry.  Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a water poem (hence the title of this post).  I never knew I was a water person.  I spent time at beaches as a kid, and I liked it.  I learned to swim in a frigid mountain lake that I played in every summer of camp as a child, and I liked that, too.  But I still didn’t know.  After college I spent a couple of weeks in the middle of a months-long hitch around Europe on beaches in Portugal and loved it.  Still I didn’t know.

Then I went to Jamaica for the first time.  Exactly nine years ago tomorrow.  And then I knew.  Not just that I was a water person, but that I should have been born in the Caribbean. How did that get so messed up?  I stepped out of the airport and into that wave of humid heat, and it settled into my chest and that was the end.  Heart lost.  Over.  I still have that feeling every time.  Tonight’s poem started with all of that in mind … but went a different way in the end.

Should
have been
aquatic,
swimming my days,
life on the water.
How
did I
never know?
Instead, I walk,
spend my days dreaming
waves,
dreaming
of the shore.
In my next life –
yes, in my next life …

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received almost half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Last straw.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “last straw” poem. At first I wasn’t sure what to do with that, couldn’t think of any time when I felt something had reached that kind of critical mass. That’s silly, of course, as there must be so many. Still.

I started trying to write something despite myself, but that was a losing battle. And then …

Tried
to write
you tonight.
Number-playing,
your low, Irish creme
voice,
yellow
clogs, Motown
swagger — music
dripping like rich, thick,
sweet
honey.
I wanted
to find you here,
tip of my pen.

Found
instead
your ugly,
casual slights,
disregard, disdain.
Saw
myself,
turning back
to you — one time,
again. And again.
Need
calling,
pushing me,
shaping my thoughts,
saying you were love.

Found
instead
your closed hand,
love of power,
your sharp, cutting tongue.
Went
back once,
and again.
Willfully blind
and imagining
hope,
children,
a future.
Finding you — your
threat wrapped in velvet.

Okay, this one is driving me crazy.  There was, of course, a last straw.  But I’m stopping before I get there.  Yes, this is the control freak behavior that a certain VONA workshop leader accused me of: forcing the piece to end before it’s actually finished.  Feh.  I don’t want to be writing a long, LONG piece about this man, this relationship.  So this will stop.  On to the next.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received almost half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a ” tell it to the _______” poem.  Really not sure what to do with that.

It’s Poem in Your Pocket Day!  As ever, I have my basket full of poems to give out to people at work so that I can be sure they’ll have poems in their pockets as they go through their days.  Last year, knowing that I’d be in the hospital for PYP Day, I left a supply of poems behind with explicit instructions to have them given out on the correct day … and I brought a bunch of poems with me to the hospital to give out.  Seriously.  I offered poems to every nurse and PA who came into my room, gave poems to my room mate and her partners, and carried them along with me when I was taken out for my little physical therapy walk around the floor.  Many people seemed to think I was nuts, but I’m used to that at this point.

Today, I brought a few dozen poems with me to my morning meeting.  My morning meeting at City Hall with one of the Deputy Mayors.  I figured it would be good to have poems on me just in case.  You know, just in case someone asked.  Just in case there was a poetry emergency.  Just in case the meeting was chummy enough that it wouldn’t have been too strange for me to pull out my little plastic case full of poems and start offering them around. Sadly, the moment never presented itself.  The Deputy Mayor will never know what I was packing as I sat across the table from him.  Alas!

I’m still waiting for the day that someone on the street actually turns to me and asks if I have a poem in my pocket and if I’ll share it with her/him.

Tell it to My Heart

Real
feeling — 
hidden, dense.
All my secrets
exposed. This time I’m
sure,
surer
than last time,
than any time
you’ve been at my side.
Love?
Something
stronger, hard –
the one thing I’ve
avoided knowing.

Not sure it worked as well as I had in mind.  I wanted to see if I could recycle some of the lines from last night’s poem, see if I could leave them in the same place they landed in my “place” poem but give them a totally different feel here.  

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received almost half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

* And no, we can’t go there without going here:

I know a place.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “place” poem.  I decided to be literal about it an choose a physical place, but I also decided to choose a place that would push me to start thinking again about a writing project I set aside last summer and haven’t made time to go back to.  I have this annoying habit of setting limiting and strict rules for myself for no good reason.  I mean, it’s a pretty good bet that, no matter what idea I come up with, there will be some external voice telling me I can’t do it or it’s a bad idea or that someone else has already done it and I can’t do it as well as that person so I may as well quit.  Or some such.  So if those naysayers are already out there, and are all ready to take me down a few notches, why do I use up my valuable energy doing their work for them?  Feh.

Last summer, a propos of nothing, I began writing a memoir.  Not Adventures. That was already under way.  No, this was a more traditional, prose-only memoir.  And I had a LOT to say … but then I stopped myself because, as my internal censor pointed out, “You can’t write two memoirs at once, and you’re already working on the comic.”  Who says?!  Right, but I listened to myself last year and put the memoir aside.  Tonight’s poem, though it is hardly a return to the writing of the memoir, it is at the very least a shot across my internal censor’s bow, a warning to let her know she needs to pipe down and let me do my work.

I Know a Place

Troy.
A weight,
hidden, dense.
All my secrets
kept.               Long afternoons,
long
bike rides.
Books read, hills
climbed. My bully / 
my friend at my side.
Jean –
taller,
stronger, hard –
she knew things I
avoided knowing.

Her
story
twists around
mine. But it’s time
to let myself go, leave
her
alone.
Walk away
from her story
learn  to tell my own.

Jean,
is your
memory
shaded purple
and grey, same as mine?

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  In the first week, I’ve received almost 40% of my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write either an optimistic or a pessimistic poem.  Not sure I’m really feeling either of those right now.  I’m more than a little focused on my plans for this summer … when all the family tree discoveries of the last two weeks don’t crowd out everything else and take over my brain.

I’m excited about the work on Adventures, and am really looking forward to getting out the Berkeley for VONA.  At the same time, I’m also feeling disconnected from the rest of my writing.  The last few days of being home and trying to make some real progress on working out what my class submission for June will be made me miss fiction writing — not the flash fiction I’ve been so focused on the last several months but the longer stories that I spend months and months finding my way through.  I haven’t written a story in just about forever, and that makes me sad.  I love the short-shorts.  They please me enormously.  But they aren’t the same.  Of course not.  I was all set to start a short-fiction blog — push myself to write one of those stories every morning — but I’ve tabled that idea for the moment.  I need to settle myself first.

It comes back to time, to making more time for my writing, comes back to not trying to squeeze in all my ideas into the handful of minutes before I need to fall asleep each night.  For a brief moment I was getting up early every morning to write.  And that was great, but I couldn’t sustain it.  My exhaustion level was so high, I barely knew my own name by the time I stopped.  It’s not a way to function.  So I need to figure some stuff out, find a way to give myself the writing time I’m craving.

Time
never
hesitates,
never sits still,
gives me a minute.

Peace.
Quiet.
Unbroken
contemplation.

We still disagree,
time
and I.
I’m searching
out common ground.
Time to save my soul.

Playing again with breaks, trying to stretch the Arun to see what it can be and do.

_____

Yesterday, Alejna taggged me in a writing process meme that’s running around — it showed up on my FB feed in the status of another writer friend.  I like that we’re all thinking about our writing processes just now.  Very fitting with my writing practice contemplation.  My post for the meme will go up next week Monday if you’re curious.  And I’ll be tagging a couple of folks to post the week after.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  In the first week, I’ve received almost 40% of my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

I even made a video for the campaign!

 

SOL image 2014

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!  Check out all of today’s slices over at Two Writing Teachers!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Re-imagining

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “back to basics” poem — resetting, relearning, restarting …

Find
a new
meaning, a 
definition
of family. One
tree,
many
limbs. Searching
lost histories,
re-imagining.
See
us now.
Family.
Each has a name,
all living on, here.

Starting to wonder if I’m holding myself back, forcing each of these poems to be only a single stanza when they could be much longer.  Waiting until the lat minute to start writing and pushing myself to post before midnight is constricting.  Yes, of course that’s true, but these last poems have seems the worse for it, stunted out of necessity.  May have to revisit and revise …

And still thinking about yesterday’s realization that I haven’t been the poster child for self-deprecation this month with all my poems.  I think this change is, in large part, due to all the mental space that’s been taken up by the family history I’ve been uncovering.  I’ve been so focused on searching out connections, on finding pieces here and there, deciphering the handwriting on 150-year-old census documents … there just hasn’t been room to remember to put myself down!

As much as I’ve enjoyed this year’s poem-a-day challenge, I’m also happy enough that April’s coming to a close.  I want to release the daily pressure and setting into some of my more “normal” writing. (Who knows what I mean by that, but we’ll see come May.)

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer. Thank you!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

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