Thursday, December 29, 2011

Poem Disguised as What I Should be Reading Right Now

Which is how to plan my courses (two of which are very new and exciting, but lots of new and exciting work and prep. too). And how to paint my wall called Toasted Marshmallow or French Vanilla, I forget which paint swatch I chose and how to prep the wall that will be Malted and do you notice a little bakery lust in my selection of off-whites? For the record, the accent wall is Mourning Dove, so let it not be said that I am focused on the lyrical, the melancholy, the simple carbs. Oh, wait...

I am wishing I were more here, less facebook. Here feels like the right ruminations about writing. There feels like self-billboardizing. I don't like it, and yet, I look. It's a clever way to pretend to friend and unfriend and it lacks the sense of consequence and courage, (like reality television). In fact, like reality t.v., it actually numbs one from feeling the sense of consequence. Thoughtlessness abounds and rarely does one stop to contemplate the actual emotional ramifications of things said and done. Here, I assume it's me alone plus maybe just a few of those wandering googlebot things that move eyeless (I first wrote "love eyeless" hmmm....) and gathering but never really gathering. (The instructional designer boyfriend assures me that such things watch the blog, too.) So here is like a way to type out what I think I am thinking and thus, cleanse the palate or rough draft out the next thing I need to say on the more official pages of my life. About those.
So New Years' resolutions are silly. They don't last. But a habit takes twenty-one days to form, so my reading tells me, so why not these twenty-one. Like starting today. I want to work on things in a more balanced fashion. My schedule allows whole days where I can paint and another day where I can sort clothes, if a deadline is coming up, I write like a fiend to finish something. Good writers, writers with good habits, work a set of hours a day at a writing project, then a set schedule for class planning, housework, etc. I read an interview with Donald Hall once and he said he advanced each of the many, many, many writing and journalism assignments a little bit with time meted out so that he might make his various deadlines. They are various and many and he always does. Plus he's said to be a damn fine teacher, as well. Even after Jane died, Hall continued to write and send his work out (I worked on a literary magazine at the time and we received a strange elegy that was later picked up by, I think, TriQuarterly.) Anyway, proof, that not even grief, much less that flitty, meandering mind of one Intagliosa, could keep a good writer from getting his good writing accomplished. With that, I leave you to a wonderful poem that was sent along to me by a kind woman who found the audio of my "Lucy" poem some years back and had always wanted the text. I was sent her note and when I responded, telling her how happy it made me that my poem stayed with her the way certain other poems had stayed with me, (yes Taije Silverman I am talking to you, also Eliot Khalil Wilson, Ilya Kaminsky, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Richard Siken, Laura Kasischke, Simone Muench, and too many others to list)... she wrote me with this lovely title which I read, envied and shared.

Now to that new day I promised myself.

Matthew Olzmann


Here’s what I’ve got, the reasons why our marriage
might work: Because you wear pink but write poems
about bullets and gravestones. Because you yell
at your keys when you lose them, and laugh,
loudly, at your own jokes. Because you can hold a pistol,
gut a pig. Because you memorize songs, even commercials
from thirty years back and sing them when vacuuming.
You have soft hands. Because when we moved, the contents
of what you packed were written inside the boxes.
Because you think swans are overrated.
Because you drove me to the train station. You drove me
to Minneapolis. You drove me to Providence.
Because you underline everything you read, and circle
the things you think are important, and put stars next
to the things you think I should think are important,
and write notes in the margins about all the people
you’re mad at and my name almost never appears there.
Because you make that pork recipe you found
in the Frida Khalo Cookbook. Because when you read
that essay about Rilke, you underlined the whole thing
except the part where Rilke says love means to deny the self
and to be consumed in flames. Because when the lights
are off, the curtains drawn, and an additional sheet is nailed
over the windows, you still believe someone outside
can see you. And one day five summers ago,
when you couldn’t put gas in your car, when your fridge
was so empty—not even leftovers or condiments—
there was a single twenty-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew,
which you paid for with your last damn dime
because you once overheard me say that I liked it.

–from Rattle #31, Summer 2009

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