NaPoWriMo Success!

I did it! I managed to write and post 30 poems in 30 days. That posting part is important because I’ve always been so covetous of my work. Even now, I think, “but but but some of those poems had the potential to be really good!” And maybe I’ll rework some of them and find somewhere appropriate to submit them.

Do I feel accomplished? Most definitely. I have a few friends who are pretty into NaNoWriMo and I’m just so not a fiction writer. I’m really not. The demands of character development and story arcs, story cohesion and tying up loose ends over pages and pages of text… it’s enough to make me wet myself in terror like a neurotic yorkie. I work best in snapshots and symbolic language. I don’t like needing to make complete sentences and I enjoy the ambiguity of phrases maybe possibly running into each other and blending or maybe not.

I received the loveliest compliment on my writing yesterday. A wonderful friend wrote to me and said, “You have a talent for capturing complicated spaces in such a tiny, concise handful of words.” Seriously the best thing anyone has yet said to me about my writing ability. Makes me feel so good!

And I’d like to take a moment to thank Alexis Yael for inspiring me to actually go through with this. She’s been an online friend for close to 10 years and she has always been super supportive of any writing endeavours of mine. This April, she offered a NaPo-oriented e-course called Poeming Into the Now and, while I didn’t sign up for it, she added me to the facebook group and I’d peek in every once in a while to see what others had written so that I could get inspired. I think the one poem that came as a direct result of one of her prompts was the pantoum, Immersion. I’d wanted to write a pantoum ever since I first saw that my friend, Jackie, had posted one some months ago, before I’d even gotten back into the writing thing. She’s another wonderful writer who has really been integral to my getting where I am now: I have a website! I have a real, honest-to-goodness chapbook! I am enjoying a successful completion of my first NaPoWriMo!

So thank you to both Alexis and Jackie. I am so grateful for your support and the talent you have shared with the world.

And thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read what I’ve created here in this nuanced little corner of the web. Muchas gracias! Moltes gràcies! Grandmercé! Merci beaucoup!

Now to write and write and write. It feels good. Happy Beltaine! Happy May Day!

NaPoWriMo Day 30 :: The Last Day

The Last Day

‘til death do us part is a lie.
we buy into the illusion of Maya:
our flesh a convincing story we tell ourselves
to experience a different sort of existence
death is only a door we walk through to go home,
autumn leaves returning to earth at the end of a season

we fear winter because we have forgotten
that we are always connected to spring
we fear death because we fear forgetting and
being forgotten so we cling desperately to this illusion

we have forgotten how to listen with heart wide open
we have forgotten how to see the reality
that love outlasts the body and that physical death
only looks like separation

this story of separation has us convinced
that death is the end, even if Nick Cave
and physics disagree —

the first law of thermodynamics states that
“energy is neither created nor destroyed”
there is only a shift in state, the thermodynamics
in the heat of his heart reaching out to hers
is a biology of emotions spanning the forgetting,
remembering instead that love is an energy
neither created nor destroyed

with our hearts we speak to the world
with our hearts we speak to each other
with our hearts we listen and
we have become hard of hearing,

deaf to the language
of electromagnetic affection:
one heart beating in sync with another
we have forgotten the words to this song
so we let ourselves doubt its strength,
let our egos make us ache when
this memory loss is only a story we create

we long for the touch of a loved one
but atoms never touch; their electrons only repel,
and our nervous system interprets
the pressure of repulsion as healing,
like two magnets of the same polarity
pressing against the space between them

the stories we tell ourselves make this reality
a place of forgetting that what is felt with the heart
is what is real and what is felt on the skin is illusion
atoms are mostly empty space anyway and

he will remember her touch after she has left this movie theater
he will remember her laughter and her smile
he will remember how it felt to be around her
he will dream vividly of her heart’s language
and the way it spoke to him
it is written in his cells

these memories, these echoes of experience…
he wants nothing more but to continue writing and
the echo is not what he wants,
but, autumn leaf falling,
she teaches him
it is what he needs
and it is after he walks through the door
that he will remember:
death is only a dreamed up fiction of forgetting
the heartspeak of always being connected to
her spring, lives in constant bloom

today is the last day.
tomorrow is the first lesson
in his remembering the language
of their love and listening
to her heart speak to him across
the theater of physics
and physical attraction
the affection of thermodynamics
the shift of seasons
always cycles back to spring

if he lets himself,
he will remember the song they wrote
and he will sing

NaPoWriMo Day 29 :: Released


When I unbound everything
the fears were released.
they didn’t float away, though
they hung around, so used to being near you
you gave them life. you gave them energy.
you gave them your life. you gave them your energy.
they were tied to you with umbilical cords
you nourished them unknowingly
and when I blew dust into their faces
and they fell to ash
the cords disappeared
ash turned to butterflies
flying away from you,
you were freed.

NaPoWriMo Day 28 :: You Have Always Run Hot

You Have Always Run Hot

Five year old with fever dreams
screams pierce the silent sleep of sibling
and parents
“he goes it!” you shout,
arm raised in defiance,
fist pounding the bed.
I rush to you and lay my hand
on your head, the slight pressure
has always calmed you,
like a blanket smothering
smoldering coals, the fire
of your name, your sun,
your moon, your year
have always made you run
hot at the poles, with your
rocket ship combustion
and nuclear meltdowns,
we sometimes take refuge
in musing a change of name
to a febrifuge like Cool Summer Rain
we are always learning
how to direct your heat without
adding fuel to the fire and
fanning your flame.

NaPoWriMo Day 27 :: The Dead Are Confused

The Dead Are Confused

The voices of the dead spoke
They are the voices of my ancestors

In my dreams, they lived in the same house
as my grandparents.

I my dreams, my mother-in-law discovered
where they were buried.

It was not, as we all believe, in the cemetery.
They were not entombed.
They were not embalmed.
They were not put into caskets.

They were buried out back by the clothesline.
My grandmother’s mother, her whole line…

Knowing they were all around me, and had been
for my entire childhood, gave me a sense of belonging
that I had never before experienced.
Ancient kings and queens, whose empires fell.

Their chandeliers had to be sold off.
Their castles transported from medieval Spain
to richer European countries, on rickety platform
flatbeds pulled by donkey across the Pyrenees.

In my dreams, my mother-in-law found them.
In my dreams, she spoke with them.
In my dreams, she told them she had seen South America,
and that it was beautiful. This made them happy.

I woke up with these stories in my head.
I woke up with their voices echoing.
I woke up to hear them demanding I write this down.

I tell them, “But I’m Italian, not Spanish.”

They were adamant, and it is not a good idea
to argue with the spirits of the dead.

I don’t mind them, the dead, I said in my dreams,
I just don’t want to see them decayed.
I think speaking to the living confuses them.
They’re not used to being heard.

NaPoWriMo Day 26 :: Blood Magic

Blood Magic

I could talk about The Red Tent.
I could talk about how this red line connects us all,
maiden, mother, crone
birth of girl babies and boy babies
the beauty and power of red
I could talk about how it keeps girls from going to school in Africa
because they haven’t easy access to appropriate products
and talk about how it’s important to remember
that putting things inside the body
is a culturally tricky area to navigate,
that using products that can be thrown out
can, in some places, mean that those products can be stolen
blood extracted and used, magically, against the girl,
and so it is important to take these things into consideration
I could talk about how I sometimes replay
the break up letter my girlfriend sent to me in 2001,
the part where she refers to my ‘reusable menstrual pads’
as though they were black magic,
a thing to be avoided at all costs,
never mind that ‘regular’ pads give me heat rash
I could talk about how I used my blood on cotton canvas
to paint a snake spiraling outward,
symbol of cyclical shedding
marvelling at how the dried blood oxidized
I could talk about how the cramps kicked in, full force,
the same day as the full moon
drawing the blood from my body at an astonishing rate

But I’m crampy and tired, waiting for my tea to kick in
so I can stop feeling kicked around
I’m too busy washing the stains from my pretty undies
because I forgot to wear my period undies,
which are all black, of course.
I’m too busy being annoyed that, after my two births,
neither cups nor tampons want to stay in,
body having been trained to push everything out.
I’m too busy wishing for a Red Tent of my own,
so that I can have some time out for contemplation…
more time than just standing at the sink,
rinsing underwear and pad,
affords me

I’m too busy wondering how I’m going to enjoy dancing tonight.

This is the everyday magic of moon blood.
This is the magic of the everyday
This is the line that connects us,
the commonality of experience

NaPoWriMo Day 25 :: In Asking Something of Someone

In Asking Something of Someone

If someone says no,
do not assume you know better.
If someone says no,
do not strong-arm them with your will.
If someone says no,
do not stalk them just to annoy them.
If someone says no,
pay attention to your reaction before it escapes your grasp.
If someone says no,
learn the difference between reaction and response.
If someone says no,
don’t make it about you when it’s plainly not.
If someone says no,
be graceful about it.
If someone says no,
watch your ego.
If someone says no,
let it go.

NaPoWriMo Day 24 :: When A Linguaphile Has An Affair

When A Linguaphile Has An Affair

I cannot even articulate
how profoundly spoken Occitan affects me.

I thought French was my love,
blossoming like flowers in my mouth,
tendrils of sound twirling around my tongue,
but the sensuality of Occitan has completely eclipsed it.

Maybe it’s the convergence of so many languages
maybe it’s the fusion that pulls
maybe it’s all those beautiful diphthongs,
the way the mouth and tongue move
like fingers caressing the skin of a drum,
circling the sound, sending it spiraling forth
punctuated by percussive desires…
there is such movement here
such rhythmic dance

aquelas bocas,
las dançairas das paraulas
aquelos sons, tirats de la fonsor de l’arma
aquela lenga, l’auba meravilhosa de l’èime mieu
jamai tal gaug dins dels mots
jamai tal lutz dins mon còr

[many apologies for any mangling of grammar; it’s a new relationship]

NaPoWriMo Day 23 :: Unexpected Ritual

Unexpected Ritual

I found a heart on the sidewalk;
it was all tied up, bound and barely beating
I looked around to see who it belonged to
but there was no one
this lonely heart
I looked for a loose string,
something that would give way
but there was nothing

I sat down on the sidewalk
pulled a knife out of my bag
set to working on release
and nothing else existed
this heart became my world
cutting and releasing
unwrap, unwind, unbind

When the last string was cut
and pulled away, my breath stopped
I don’t know how long it was
that we stared at each other
the way those curls framed
your face in the summer sun
and how breathless we were
standing there facing each other,
our resonant hollowness, a living echo

I broke the spell,
looked down,
saw the knife in my hand
and all the broken bits of string
strewn about me;
everything came flooding back all at once
the tsunami of your memory
inundated my lungs

The heart was gone
you were gone
but I could breathe again
and I never felt freer.

NaPoWriMo Day 22 :: Fusion


disconsolate against the sky
the stars speak of the night
an eternal font of shadow
inconsolable stars
forgetting their own light

I once read that depression
is inwardly focused anger
and it took me a few heartbeats
before I agreed:
impotent, hopeless anger

the sun never asks for tribute
the sun never plays favourites
it’s the clouds that we get distracted by
forgetting that sometimes
a little darkness during the day
provides the perfect contrast
forgetting that sometimes
we need the rain
forgetting that sometimes
our bodies need relief from
the unabashed, self-contained,
ecstatic glory of the day star,
who is just being its beautiful self

our bodies can only stand so much brightness
and I think that weakness scares us from remembering
the totality of who we are, afraid
we would be too much for our own skin

so we exist in cloudy half-lives
angry and dispirited
trying desperately to remember