Happy People

I don’t even know

My own name

It makes me jealous

Of all the happy people

I’ve seen waterfalls

Canyons and Craters

The Aurora Borealis?

Not yet

But on my bucket list

Is only happiness

And I yearn to be real

Even though everyone lies

I am the same

As I’ve always been

It will all

Make sense to you at once

Reunions

The past is the past
Those were different people
It’s not about love
Or sex
Anymore
But laughing
If we can
At what was
Until it’s time to start over
Until we disclaim who we are
Can’t we examine why
We felt like we did
Or didn’t
Our spirits
Touched
And that can mean anything

What Scares Us

Something happened

A long time ago

To make me feel unsafe

 

Probably

A very minor thing

I can’t remember

 

Maybe it was when

The other boys

Told me I looked like a girl

 

And laughed at me

Though it was

Just the truth

 

Sometimes I think

It would be easier

To have been a girl


And not so a
fraid

Like men are

Of being laughed at

 

Look at me

I am an American
You know what I mean
But in this Turkish coffee house
In Decatur, Georgia
Women wear the hijab
They sit in a circle
Leaning in
Talking and laughing
The owner’s family is here too
With his coffee colored baby
Yes I noticed
It makes me feel
Glad
That they can feel at home
And that I am welcome
Because that’s what they sell here
They sell welcome
Maybe I can cross my legs
And be less American
And maybe they wouldn’t judge me
Even the one with the burka
Would she?
Stylish
Comfortable
Something to be said for headscarfs
Modest
Maybe they don’t want from men
What men are like
You know what I mean
Don’t try to tell me
That American men are not like that
But the burka bothers me
If only because it reminds me too much
Of myself

I Don’t Want to Talk About Work

I wrote a poem this morning, inspired by the movie Paterson.  Ron Padgett, who actually wrote the poems for the movie anticipated this. In an interview with the PBS newshour he said, “Maybe a film like Paterson will help some people say, ‘huh, maybe I could write something like this too’.”

But I didn’t know that when I wrote it.

It’s 7AM.
Time to start the routine
The same routine every day

I take a shower
Shave
Brush my teeth

Put work clothes on
And torment myself
Over whether to eat breakfast

But I don’t want to talk about work
I get up at 5 or 6
I stretch or write

Who do I blame?
That’s what I want to know
That’s what I write about

Lately I’ve been having breakfast
And drinking coffee
And liking it

But I’m behind
Always behind
In my tasks

Maybe when I retire
I’ll keep a blog
And ride a bicycle

Faith

I try to keep my chin up, convince myself that if I get up early and write for two hours every morning that I can finish one of the many stories I’ve started over the years, maybe after whatever time I need to stretch or pee and after whatever time I spend keeping a journal to warm up to it, or to get past the despair that I write to outrun, or better yet, after whatever time I spend on the self-motivating completion of a blog post.

Maybe after that I can comb through the many different drafts, saved in google docs, of what I don’t even remember writing once, and can’t piece together into a cohesive complete work of fiction. Not without time and quiet. There are many different stories, with some good scenes, evidence of a potential we usually ascribe to teenagers (because they can be anything). Finishing anything longer than 1,500 words seems like climbing a mountain to me, the kind of thing you only do once, if at all, and so which one is my Everest? Which story? If there’s only going to be one? How do I chose?

Why does my first work have to be my life’s work?

I can’t work creatively at 5AM in the morning, tired, sober, the clock ticking. And I can’t do it at night more tired, depressed, waiting, this time, for the house to be quiet, for everyone to go to sleep before I can go to work, knowing that I have to get up in the morning and be sharp and alert enough to be productive (or look like it) at a job I hate. I go into work and sit at a desk all day checking numbers, working in a profession I never intended to stay in.

It’s my winter now
Cold so long my toes feel numb
My head swims in blood thick
And my bones have frozen
I keep thinking about my toes
And then I dream
About friends who don’t remember me
And wake to work done at a desk
My thick blooded head
And stiff neck and shoulders
Move in shudders only and yawns
And I can’t get warm

You are what you do. It’s never just a job. We write not to make money but to be writers. But in order to become writers, we have to spend time writing, and I don’t have the time. What I have the time to be is an accountant. It’s not what I do, it’s what I am. And when I do write, the more I write, the more I hate accounting, the more I hate myself.

I wake up early because it’s the only time the house is quiet, the only time I have to think. Then the house wakes up, sometimes earlier than expected cheating me of the peace, the small piece of that for which I sacrifice sleep (and exercise and whatever else I could be getting up early to do). Then in the evening there’s the TV, and dinner, and piano playing. There’s the dog barking and the people coming in and out of every room. Please stop looking at me.

I want to be someone else in so many ways.

I go to coffee shops sometimes on the weekend. They are noisy, playing music I don’t want to hear. I sit in uncomfortable seats. And all the fucking happy people. And the rent: coffee, the creativity limiting stimulant that only makes my mind race. 

So, what else am I to do but feel hopelessness? I have been running on fumes forever, relying on the fiction (ironic) that I can find time to do this, that I can carve out enough, that I can maintain a creative mindset when what I do all day is unimaginative except in the limited way that business people sometimes think of themselves as innovative.

I maintain hope by believing that I have a plan, despite that every plan I’ve ever had has failed. I make a new plan when it’s clear the old one isn’t going to work so that I can believe in something again. I know the new plan will fail too, I know it from the start, but it doesn’t seem to matter because it’s a mechanism I use to keep from drowning. It serves my denial, at least temporarily. I justify the farce, because I know that faith is my only chance, the only thing that will keep me going given the historical evidence that I will never do enough. I could be wrong about the new plan. Maybe this time it will work. Allowing that helps me to keep crawling, at least. If I stop completely, the game is over. But I still always lose.

That’s why I’m depressed.

But I have posted something every Friday for the last eight Fridays. Blog posts that may not be any good, maybe mildly entertaining at best. I’ll suspend judgement while they are fresh, because I may not have perspective and anyway it doesn’t matter. Thinking they suck will only lead to stagnation. I committed to myself, eight weeks ago, that I would post the best thing I could, weekly, that this would be my deadline, and I would embrace, in faith, that if I met this goal over the long term, I would improve, and that maybe the writing would even be better than I think it is. It’s an experiment, and I shouldn’t assume I know what the results will be before it runs its course. But I really expected the posts to be better than they are. I am hanging on by a fucking thread. Hanging on because I just don’t want to give up.