Soon I’m off to Santa Fe

The Glen Workshop 2012 – Santa Fe

Some little kid is throwing bouncy balls all around my stomach. That is what excitement feels like. In two weeks I am heading to Santa Fe to participate in a week long conference and workshop with 200 artists to enjoy each others works in progress, fellowship, worship together, and even do a little dancing. I will be one of the youngest students at the workshop so I am feeling terribly bouncy and like a shepherd going out to face a giant (except I am not trying to kill anybody so the metaphor fails miserably which is not a good thing to have happen at a writing conference…but I digress). I don’t know what I was thinking, but I signed up for poetry, and although that is generally what is most often featured here on my blog it is also where I am weakest as a writer. Creative non-fiction and memoir are what I love…and also things that have nothing to do with plot. But there is no turning back now, the plane tickets have been purchased, the balance for the conference has been zeroed out (all, by the way, paid for by IMAGE JOURNAL where I am an intern). I am looking forward to the week for all kinds of reasons: spiritual retreat, silence, solitude, hiking, collaborating, fellowship, catholic liturgy, art, art, art, art, and the opportunity dialogue about the imagination and the christian faith with a wide spectrum of people of different ages and faith backgrounds. It should be challenging and thought provoking spiritually revitalizing. The last thing I am worried about is becoming a better writer because of it, I have a whole lifetime to refine those skills. What I want to share with you today are the old relics I am taking to Santa Fe to have workshopped. Some are from long ago, two have never appeared on this blog,  and two have recently appeared but one has undergone a significant revision since showing up. I hope they feel somewhat fresh. I hope the language isn’t stale. I look forward to your feedback…but more than that, I look forward to breaking the climbing shoes for some fun New Mexico ascents!

 

Starting you off with an old one:

 

Early Morning Men

 

They leave their homes after goodbyes,

Forehead and cheek kisses,

Acknowledged by slumbering eyes

And rhythmic breathes, the reasons

They themselves breathe.

 

Early morning-men.

Hands hidden in coat pockets,

Searching for change, keys

And inspiration.

 

Chins mounted to collars and scarves,

Enduring the 5 a.m. air which carves

Grey hairs and wrinkles into them.

 

Men trudging to a bus or a barn,

Eyes shielded by weathered brims

Of old leather hats, the down-turned heads

Turned away from the world,

trapping them in.

 

Mourning-men. Early

To the clocks that keep them,

Punching in. Late

To the families that love them.

Holding it in.

 

Early Mourning-men.

Mourning late into the night,

The one or three jobs, held down

So they can hold up their heads

 

As they walk through the door

To the homes they don’t own,

The rooms they don’t know

To touch the heads of children

They haven’t been able to hold.

 

They hold in the

Mourning, these men,

Keeping it hidden in near empty bottles,

In drawers of their desks.

 

Morning men. They mourn

For the break of mourning

When they will do it all again,

Pack their lunches and punch in.

 

Ode

 

Those who die young

Always seem to live

(like they knew all along)

As if life was just a breath

And wasted no air.

 

Shedding

 

Sanctified by winter’s fire,

Trees transform through alchemy.

Green molting into gold

The sunlit shade that fades away

Like slow shooting stars, floating

Down to earth, settling

As nakedness bears itself again,

Nudging the seasons toward re-birth.

 

The snake’s soul, torn and bruised

And ground abused,

They shed their exoskeletons.

Writhing and rubbing

Their remnants into the dust,

Upon thorns to peel it back,

The crumply white reminders

Of last life’s slow crawl.

 

Can I discard old skin?

Or brush my dandruff flakes

To the corners of my den?

Whither into white snow

To shed the dead forgotten scars,

And blossom brilliant golden stars

Scaled down to fit inside

Myself something brightly born?

 

Why the leaf shedding

Or the body—molting?

If I too can’t scratch

At the surface of me

To find a different form

Or face beneath

Without my grieving grin nakedly worn,

Without hope of sprouting leaves?

 

Before the molten summer

Chars the limbs brown and orange—red,

Or winters hellish breath

Chills me to a living death,

Does upon me spread the faintest gold

Before winter’s hellish cold

Rubs me naked once again?

To bury me alive—in dying piles of grief?

 

I’m Changing Mediums

I extend myself—and celebrate

The way a pencil becomes another

Part of the body when pushed

Into paper’s porous skin.

 

Rip open my arms to the bone

And smell the scent of graphite marrow,

Of sawdust shavings rubbed down

Into a slender focused finger-tip.

 

I rub myself raw, down to the sharp medal

Boundary of the eraser until

All I can do is erase—subtract,

Or point to old words, redundant and repeated.

 

Everything redundant and repeated,

Said and said again

Until new words can crawl into me,

To scribble a line of originality.

 

Until then—I’m changing mediums

Waxing paper with crayons so the blind

Can feel in tracing the residue

the lumpy brail of truth speaking

 

From the sur-face, no more black on white,

Yet still reading the same feeling of other

And even though blind,

Be aware they’re touching color.

 

It Happened In Reverse

 

We started in full bloom

And faded, a red petal a day,

Or two—or more.

 

Slow wilting at first,

We began fresh and fertile

At the end of spring.

 

It was inevitable,

So close to the heat of summer

We should dry and brown.

 

But I didn’t expect an

Irritated, “she loves me not”

Plucking what was left

 

We could have been a bud and bloomed.

Not started as a hot sun and collapsed.

 

A List           

 

another reason why

I don’t know where

You are anymore

 

and

 

When

my hand shook

The thin stretchy skin

brittle between my fingers

I cradled my grandpas grey forehead

He was only half cradled

in the backless white gown

string-tied to make him content

In the bleached room with a single

sterile silk lily eternal on a stand

I sang to him a song

because his heart loved music

The melody was swallowed by a

a flat-lining chord that

fell silent on his ears—

and Yours

 

That’s another reason why

I don’t know where

You are anymore

 

and

 

When

the couch was center stage

for my mothers drunken rage

hidden in bottles beneath the bathroom sink

Mute brown suede gathers old wine stains

into cracks where fallen change is buried

Happy Birthday-Graduation banners

hang over a mantle

The only thing in front of me

two curled fingers on each side of a fist

The middle polished pointing at the ceiling

and pointed at me

The only gift I can count on

year after year

her ignoring—

and You too.

 

That’s another reason why

I don’t know where

You are anymore.

 

and

 

When

having a baby sister meant

having a person to stay up with

not to stay up for

to stop from becoming a memory

When owning a microwave meant

warm corndogs at midnight

not a place to hide the cold knives that

she would punish her wrists with

When I love you meant

exactly what it did

hidden behind my desperate eyes

the bruised ocean swirling a sorry storm

not whatever else my sister heard

causing her to coil up and strike

When those three words invited her

to reach recklessly for my shirt

to suffocate herself in love

not veiled glances that remember her only as the past

And so she sees You in them—

unforgiving unforgetting

 

That’s another reason why

I don’t know where

You are anymore.

 

and

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