31 Days of Poetry {Day 2}You’ll Feel Left Out

you will feel left out 

 

watch the lists, the names

filter by on screen,

everyone blurs past

your corner of the internet.

stand alone

while people dance around

giggling about all the places

they shared and meals and pictures–

the ones you haven’t been,

weren’t invited because

you don’t quite fit into “their” tribe,

or everything about you small

and best saved for friends with more

likesfollowsreaderstweets.

 

perhaps, you feel like

the whole internet has forgotten about you.

guess what? they did.

and you will forget them too.


for now,

you must slave

away for a small audience

who knows the difference between

poetic and hallmark shit.

they understand

how life crackles around 

campfire slow and warm,

your insides well up

over the cup’s lip

spill then harden like wax;

how a lone caw

of crow speaks

words only you hear;

how you’re drunk

gazing off the mountain top

you climbed when you wanted to quit.

 

yes, these are your people,

your poet sisters and brothers.

we’ll circle round you,

and not let go.

 

31 Days of Poetry{day 1} I’ll Tell You All I Know

Today, I’m joining with The Nester for 31 Days. This month, I shall share 31 Days of Poetry, Process, and my love of free and rhymed and blank verse.

shakespeare is not the sum of all poets.

neither are you nor i.

but when life throws us,

red sorbet swirls

of cloud and cream

before night drops

behind oaks and pines–

write your poetry.

stop, just, stop

questioning

if it is good or bad

or shit or biblical…

or if the world needs another poet

who rhymes like hallmark.

write your poetry.

because you may never stand

atop the mountain again

watching smoke rise

as if the trees got together

to smoke a pipe, slug back a beer.

because the world may be

weaving its own handbasket to hades,

your life caught in the middle.

write your poetry.

that is all i know.

Twilight

I.

I watch twilight ease behind the towering pines, the overgrown honeysuckle vines sucking all the life out of the scraggly maples. Above the fading outlines, the only color left, a soft orange-red-pink, then blackness. Night wraps her arms around the world, my part of North Carolina, the soil I rent from the bank. In the dark, the outside is invisible, and I pull back the curtains to watch a moment, to feel the coldness of autumn whisper on my neck.

II.

Up the gray trunk, twisting round, clinging–muscadines dangle above my head too high to reach. I linger in the shadows of the tree. I stare at the black-purple fruit, the green tops turning red from bottom up. Bitter changes to sweet, but it is slow work. Everything here is slow, careful. I want to jerk the tree, shake down the fruit, gather it all up. But I don’t. The work of sun and rain and heat and cold isn’t finished with their magic spell. Learn to wait, they whisper. I walk on.

III.

Night and day feel too much alike. Both bleeding headlong into the other. Never stopping, always moving into the next cycle, the next, the next, the next like some careless drummer in a marching band. I catch my breath on the end of another day that I just went through the motions. Clean, wash, write, do. Always the same motions, I dig ruts so deep that they become my prison cells, and I can’t climb out–the red clay mud slams me back in the deepness. So, I continue to dig my way toward China, to write myself out of this mess because I can’t make anymore sense of the world until it forms words. All these words muddle together in the cocktail shaker, and I shake and dump them on the page.

 

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Why I Bother Writing

Why I bother?

Because writing as a vice isn’t quite as bad as drinking, smoking, or collecting cats(my epitaph will not read: she was a crazy cat lady). Writing appeases my OCD personality to have something to create, to perfect, to pursue relentlessly.Or just offers another excuse to ignore the dishes, the laundry, and the unmopped floors. My OCD is fickle and cares not for such trivialities–it longs for something grander; hence, I write.

This is why I bother writing. 

I know there are so many writers that we drown  new books and NY TIMES bestsellers list, and maybe my words are just adding to the noise. But so what? If I don’t satisfy this compulsion to connect my feelings and experiences to words, then I’m not sure how I can make sense of this effed up world(except maybe in a therapist’s office, but writing doesn’t require a co-pay). Somehow, writing unlocks something deep in my subconscious that wouldn’t have come out unless written down. I can write things in journals that I feel but can’t speak aloud. This is freedom.

This is why I bother writing.

True, I vacillate between bestseller and the hack with no talent; punch drunk on the illusions of fame and hiding behind the mask of nobody.  While the comparison bitch screws me over every time always halting my writing process, it takes all I can do to shut her up and just write a few more words.

Perhaps in those next few words, I can free my voice just a little bit more,

feel something a bit deeper, hone this beautifully naracisstic craft.

 

This is why I bother writing.

And quite possibly, I don’t want to be the crazy cat lady.

 

 

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Fortune Cookie Writing Tips

Brown paper sacks, over flowing plastic containers filled with pork fried rice and General Tso’s chicken. Standard fare for at home date night, movie watching, stuffing ourselves with food not really from China, and hoping the MSG doesn’t petrify our insides yet.  We open our fortune cookies, read them aloud. Yours read like a bad Dear Abby letter, but mine always relates to my crazy writing life.  Or perhaps, I only see, read, breathe this writing gig.  Or maybe, I have stumbled on some great Zen wisdom:

The best writing advice comes from fortune cookies.  

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons and Images of Money

Seriously, if we want to write better, perhaps, we should heed some of the wisdom baked with the oddly orange flavored, vanilla cracker cookies(on a side note: what is the flavor of a fortune cookie?). Today, I am giving you my TOP 5 things I learned about writing from my fortune cookies:

  1. You are not illiterate.  Neither is your audience. Right now, you’re reading. I hope you’re laughing too. As a writer, it is my job to treat my readers not as ignorant schoolchildren, but as literate, amazing, highly sophisticated, intellectual readers. It is so freeing. Try it.
  2. Only put off till tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. Pretty much my philosophy on housework, dieting, and exercise. If I die with dirty dishes in the sink but have a beautiful manuscript finished, I say I spent my life wisely. If I choose to catch up with another writer to encourage her, no amount of laundry and well scrubbed floors will take the place of this soul balm.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Because they would make better zombie fodder in your manuscript than actually stewing over their horrid bitchiness. Unless you choose the life of a hermit, people will piss us off so badly that hate feels like the only option. Now, take note: vindictive writing isn’t always good writing. But it is cathartic. Let it heal and move on.
  4. What you will do matters. All you need is to do it. Begin, write the first sentence that will amaze you and only you. I think sometimes we forget that we are our first readers not our second cousin’s first uncle’s nephew’s daughter twice removed. One thing that helps me get started is gather notecards, post-it notes and write 1 thing. Just do something. Begin the journey with your characters or yourself.
  5. At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. We will never produce our best work if we believe that everything we do is shit. For our best writing, we must be sweet, kind, loving to ourselves. Encourage another writer. Believe in the revision process can make your words better.
Now, what is your best writing advice? Extra points if it includes fortune cookies!
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The Queen of Quantity

Quality is always better than quantity, right?

As I writer, I believed it. Shouldn’t we always look for the best word, the most tantalizing sentence, the perfect description? Under this paradigm, I labored and toiled. Second guessed my muse, begged forgiveness of my muse(her name is Winifred Eugenia Blowfish. She is a horrid harpy who praises mediocre bullshit and entices me to sofa sitting, Downton Abbey watching utopia. Or perhaps, she is merely personified writer’s block. Never quite sure.).

In the search for quality, I wrote nothing. I waited for the right conditions to write–kids in bed, husband distracted with video games, dogs snoring and farting very far away from my desk. Then, I bought new pens and purple legal pads and neon green Post-It notes. No quality writing. In my mind, I created everything I need for some kick ass poetry and prose. But the blinking cursor counted each second like a scowling metronome .

But what if I were focused on the wrong thing? What if it isn’t quality, but quantity?

Somehow, I existed underneath the hegemonic rule of my quality driven muse. I needed a paradigm shifting, parallel writing universe where I could simply write and write and write eschewing grammar, syntax, and stuffy formalities. Perhaps, I suffered from the classic writer’s block lie–if it isn’t amazing the first time, it isn’t worth writing. I berated myself for not writing like a mother scolds her children for untidy rooms. The passion, the enjoyment seeped out, and in its place, I found nothing.

But when I would sit in writing class, I threw off my need to perfect. Relaxed and allowed the words to flow trippingly on the tongue or in this case, the pen (ahh, Hamlet, I do so love thee).  I didn’t self-edit. There wasn’t time. I focused not on quality, but getting those damn words out on paper. Giving life to those faded memories, blowing the dust off my imagination, I gave myself permission to fuck up as a writer.

So, I became  The Queen of Quantity.

For May, I am committing to writing in mass quantity. Lots of shitty first drafts cobbled together, but it will all be inked out upon paper. My writing goal is to fill one 70 page notebook before the end of this month. And all this month, I am going to blog about this quantity over quality journey. Perhaps, I shall let you see a few first drafts. Perhaps, not.

Question: What has been the most freeing moment for you as a writer, artist, or person?

 

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Of Poetry and Process

I am a writer. 

For almost year, I have grown comfortable in writer’s clothes, the garb of imagery, the scarf of dialogue, the perfume of ink dripped on paper. I meandered through my writing closet choosing which clothes and outfits to present on this blog. What statement would be mine unique voice? What delicate nuanced twist would captivate me again, my readers again?

I didn’t have an answer.

Like so many writers, our passion dulls. We resort to pulling out the old hats, the worn out phrases, the thrift store shoes just to keep plugging along this writing life. Of course, I could write about feminism and women’s rights and tell stories about my children just to watch my blog’s stats soar. But after while, the familiar becomes worn thin, thread bare prose. Lifeless, grim, and uninspired.

Even after asking you, my dear readers, I knew that this blog needed a change long before I posed the question. I needed to escape the familiar and dig deeper into my writerly closet. To push into the back recesses, behind the faded curtains, the cobwebs, the dust. I long stuffed behind elegant prose, random attempts at blogging about faith and women’s rights –using a voice not entirely mine own. There, in the depths, I found my new purpose to peck out words about screen. A name, a new wardrobe.

I am a poet.

I am not so comfortable with these new clothes. Maybe, I have seen too many poets parading their wares like open confessionals or watched poets vomit up rhyming nonsense. Of course, it must be poetry if it rhymes. If calling myself a writer didn’t make me a freak show, calling myself a poet AND publishing it to blog certainly qualifies me.Besides, I dabbled in poetry here on the blog always disappointed when no one commented, no one read , or no one seemed to care. And I returned the familiar writing topics that garnered more notice, but burning inside me is a poet’s soul.

Slowly, I am warming up to this idea of being a poet, and this blog will house more poetry, fewer prose pieces(I will  still  keep up the ol’writing skills, eh?), more short articles about my process or lack thereof. For now, this is my blog’s story–of poetry and process.

So, dear reader, will you allow me the privilege of offering you a few more poems, a few more haikus, a few more  poet prayers?

Today, I am linking up with Joy in this Journey’s Life Unmasked. Link up and share your stories of every day messes.

 

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