What the Living Do–Poetry

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Sometimes, when the words are just right and the cadence isn’t too loose or too tight, you just might strike gold in a poem. At least that’s what I’m beginning to think.

This quarter has started off with quite the ride, as I got sick on the first day of classes yesterday with some sort of stomach flu and had to call out from work–lucky for me that I had late classes I could at least drag myself to in order not to get dropped. Don’t worry though, to add to the fun, I got a speeding ticked along the way. Yay for adulting and taking responsibility for my actions…

In the meantime before class and willing myself to still go, I spend quite a few hours yesterday in and out of sleep or laying over the side of my bed with a trash can, staring at my bookshelf because I didn’t want to move too much.

And I found this book, a book of poems, that seems to tell a story through each one in a way I haven’t read in a while.

I wanted to share it with you.

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The craft itself seems to be telling short truths, almost cliches or obvious trains of thought in the form of short lines that has changed what the standard of poetry has become.

But this one doesn’t do that. So to take a break from my own work and show you something, a form, you probably haven’t seen in a while, here’s the poem I’ve got for you today. No commentary, no further prelude, just poetry. Soak it all in and let me know what you think about it.


Marie Howe–What the Living Do: Rochester, New York, July 1989

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Early summer evenings, the city kids would ride their bikes down his street
no-handed, leaning back in their seats, and bump over the curb

of the empty Red Cross parking lot next door where Joe’s car was parked, and
John’s white Honda, broken and unregistered…everything blooming,

that darkening in the trees before the sky goes dark: the sweetness of the lilacs
and the grass smell…

And the sound on the front porch steps was wooden and hollow,
and up the narrow stairway stuffy and dim, and the upper door maybe a little

open—and in the hall and left into his room: someone might be sitting there
reading, or sometimes only him, sleeping,

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or lying awake, his face turned toward the door,
and he would raise a hand….

And the woman who lived below them played the piano. She was a teacher, and
sometimes we’d hear that stumbling repetition people make when they’re

learning a new song, and sometimes she’d play alone—she’d left a note
in his mailbox saying she would play softly for him. And those evenings,

when the sky was sunless but not yet dark, and the birdsong grew loud in the trees,
just after supper, when the kids wheeled by silently

or quietly talking from their bikes, when the daylilies closed up
alongside the house,

music would sometimes drift up through the floorboards,

and he might doze or wake a little or sleep,
and whoever was with him might lean back in the chair beside the bed

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and not know it was Chopin,
but something soft and pretty—maybe not even hear it,

not really, until it stopped
—the way you know a scent from a flowering tree once you’ve passed it.


See you Friday.

Setting Fire– Poetry Place

Happy Poetry Place day!!

So this one is a little different today, it’s actually a short story made up of haikus. I wanted to return to haikus for a little bit since they are surprisingly versatile and I also wanted to try to tell a story… Plus, California is on fire so that’s partially what I started off writing about before spinning it into a metaphor for something else. SO without further ado, here’s what I’ve got for you and I hope that you like it. Please do let me know what you think.


Setting Fire

Your meandering
smiles haunted me for a while,
and then you were gone.

But a fire lit
with a match to my mind and
now it won’t go out.

With all my eggs in
one basket…so what happens
if that basket breaks?

If the seams pull tight
and the hope breaks right down the
center, it must mend

with time we don’t have
and care we cannot give you.
There’s only one way

through, from something that
burns you from the inside out,
everything’s on fire.

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Photo by Dave Michuda on Unsplash

And one day you hope
to wake up and find out that
somehow the fire’s been

put out. So when the
morning comes and the sun sings
to you, just maybe

you can breathe in the
air, among the ash and the
past, you find a hope

that maybe this time
that basket finally held
and that fire burned

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Photo by Paul Wong on Unsplash

itself out. Welcome
to today: the first day of the rest
the rest of your life.


I know it needs work but that’s what writing is all about after all, the editing process. So if you have any suggestions or a quick comment, let me know! And I will see you on Friday.

Challenge Accepted– NaNoWriMo

Another week has come and gone and a very busy one at that— just in case you were wondering, about last week, I did decide to take the high road after all. Sometimes that’s the only way to do it, and maybe it wasn’t even worth putting the emotional effort to be hurt or angry. This year I’m at least learning that it’s our choice who we keep close, am I right?

Beyond finally learning more big things, there are three others that get me truly excited these days: free food, cancelled class, and more sleep. Lucky for me, we turn our clocks back this Sunday so I get a little bit of that last one to start off the next week.

Which is perfect, because it’s finally November… Do you know what that means?

Various kinds of pies will be eaten, a few more exams will be taken, hopefully more sleep will be gotten over break…

And maybe if I hit my word count, a new novel will be written (started). Because it’s National Novel Writing month (NaNoWriMo).

Officially, the month started yesterday and every single day, the word count needed to hit that incredible goal is 1,667. If you miss a day, that word count doubles. Because one way or another, if you want to win nanowrimo, you’ve got to hit 50,000 by the end of this month. And well…

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Photo by Photos by Lanty on Unsplash

I just missed day one.

That’s the thing about having a goal; if you miss a day of it whether it’s working out, reading a few pages every night, or remembering to sit down and relax every morning before work, it sets you back. And you are the only person who can make up for it.

Right now, 50,000 for me is quite the lofty goal. If you remember from last year, I was able to hit that word count but it was a real scramble down to the last few hours. Well, the last hour. But I threw myself into it because I needed something to focus on, some other place to put my mind for a little while, and I could get that much closer to finishing my book in the meantime.

Don’t you have things like that too?

I think there are a lot of times in our lives, things we get ourselves into, not just because we want to but truly because it’s what we need. Think of it like exercising— just because you should doesn’t mean you will, but we (should) do it anyway, for our own good.

Considering what’s going on in my life, the things I’m already doing along with maybe remembering that I should actually take care of myself, adding a 1,667 word goal to my days isn’t the kind of stress I need. But as weird as it sounds, it’s the kind of stress I want right now. I miss the creativity, the process of writing something other than academic papers.

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Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

Maybe it’s not the kind of thing I should be taking on right now, but I could use the distraction, the goal to set. Even though it’s work, it’s also a break— the best kind really. Because I’ve been so caught up in all the papers and readings and work and interviews that I haven’t had time for anything else. One thing this month does is literally force me to take the time if I’m going to hit 50,000. So I guess that’s what we’re going to do— commit and hope for the best in whatever comes next.


Wish me luck everyone, I know that I’ll need it if I’m already behind. So have a great weekend, find your own challenge this week, and I will see you Friday.

Old Fashioned Love– Poetry

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Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Here’s a little poetry for your Tuesday, inspired by the older poetry I’ve been studying in class. It’s interesting to realize that most writing was about religion back then, the faith and the hope people put into a power beyond them just to get through their days and their lives. Fascinating really.

But, enough of that, my point with telling you that is to explain how I modeled these poems. Each is a love poem, written in a way someone would about their own faith. So check them out and let me know what you think.

Without further ado, Poetry Place.

One

Tell me of our navel’s gaze

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Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

when our pasts cannot

reconcile.

Hurt me with my love’s ill hope

when only one can

smile.

Blame me of the sin we keep;

Indict me for our

trials.

But love me not and let me fall.

I concede my heart’s

exile.

Two

I let you be the needle, weaving

threads throughout my love,

making textiles out of

my pain.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Blanket me dearly, tie my arms

behind my back, take my clothes,

drag my worth out through

the rain.

Wash me clean, let the grace fall

deeply to my bones. I will cry,

out at the brightness of

my shame.

In and out pass through me now, open

wide these empty tombs, fill me up

flood each alley with the whispers of

your name.

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Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

Take my eyes, take my heart, take

patterned squares within my soul, leave

me open, leave me scarred to

the blame.

For it is mine and mine alone, each

sin that holds me close, you take

my love, I give my life as yours

to claim.


See you Friday.

Robert Frost and an Original– Two Poems

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Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

As I head back to SLO today, I’m thinking that sometimes transparency can be a good thing. I wrote the second poem here a little bit ago to play with a new style and in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day which is September 10th; for the love of poetry, I’ve included one of my favorite Robert Frost poems too.

Remember to treat yourself like someone you love this week, happy Tuesday everyone. Here’s what I’ve got for you.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening– Robert Frost

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Photo by Lilian Velet on Unsplash

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Transparency

The sadness can’t even
ache anymore;
it just sits
and stays
and holds
and hurts.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It leaves me empty and desperate
for someone
to help me up
or out
or away
or through
or within.

For the loneliness, it’s cruel
to want ignorance
so soon
so badly
so achingly…
So please.

Tell me why broken
dreams make a home
out of me,
leave me lonely
and too tired
to keep this up
on my own;

I can’t bear
this weight
any longer–
The ache,
it never stopped,
did it?


If there’s anything you like or anything you would like to see more of from me, feel free to hop over to the Contact Me section; I would love to hear from you. See you all on Friday.

 

Need Or Want?– Learning the Difference

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Yesterday, I got to do something that I haven’t done in a really long time and probably won’t have time to do again soon: I finished a 500-page book in less than 24 hours.

It’s not that I haven’t been reading, though not nearly as much as I’d like, but I haven’t sat down and shut this world out for a while so I could trade it in for another one. Even though I have responsibilities to attend to and last minute things to take care of before I leave on Tuesday, yesterday was the kind of day that I ignored most of it and threw myself into a book instead.

It was fantastic.

One thing I think people forget to do is take a break. Whether it’s sitting down for a football game, spending some time watering plants, or even enjoying a good snack, we don’t slow down. I mean, I get it… There are a lot of things to be done in a short period of time and if we don’t do it, it may not get done.

But when is that ever not going to be true?

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Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

Because if we’re not careful, we get so busy that our time runs out and not enough moments were spent with things we enjoy.

That book I read yesterday? Well I’ll tell you about it in a couple of weeks, but it was the kind of story that makes you take a step back and evaluate your life. For me, it reminded me how important it is not only to write, but also to read as much as I can. It’s the best form of learning for me.

So my question for you today is this: what do you get when you have a writer who doesn’t take the time to read?

Ready for the answer?

You get a terrible writer.

I tend to forget that improving my own work doesn’t always involve doing exactly what I think I need to be doing— writing. Most of the time, it’s also taking the moments and the hours to learn from what’s already been written.

We forget that what we need may not be exactly what we think it is.

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Photo by Gulyás Bianka on Unsplash

Take love for example; yes I know, a topic that I appreciate but can only write from certain points of view.

In taking my psychology course this summer, I learned that this current stage of my life is called the Intimacy versus Isolation stage by Erik Eriksson. Relationships are highly important in this stage and while a lot of us may search for love in a romantic relationship, we might let the importance of friendships fall by the wayside in the process.

Love can look like a text saying “home safe?” or even someone who takes your voice and makes it laugh, even when you don’t want it to. This can easily be a significant other— it can also be a friend. And maybe we forget to question which one we’re looking for, though in the end, what we need comes as it may. It might just take a little longer.

So what am I trying to say?

nathan-dumlao-287713I’m saying that while we go about our lives, going to school or work or running errands or remembering those breaks I talked about, take a moment to think about what you’re looking for.

And remember that what you need may not be what you think it is. So don’t close any doors yet, instead try opening the windows and see where the breeze can take you.


See you Tuesday for a new Poetry Place everyone.

Two Poem Tuesday

Another Tuesday, another poem– and I’ve got two for you today. I was playing with a little imagery along with the last style I tried out, let me know what you think!


One

With every step this world

winds me up.

Twist and twist

and twist

the dial;

one more time

until it stops.

Now

let go.

Watch me walk,

watch me work,

watch me live my

life like it’s my job.

I will keep going

until that dial

untwists me

all the way back.

For then I will stop,

I will freeze,

I will be stuck

in my own ways,

until the next person

decides

to wind me up

again.

Two

My life has become a play

with missing pieces

and empty parts

of actors

who can no longer fill

their roles.

Must the show go on,

as the cogs

in the machine

always do,

or does a new one

begin,

not so fresh faced

but ready

in good time

nonetheless?

Is it possible

to be

both?


I hope you all are having a great week, see you Friday.