Monday, May 31, 2010

the art of being a cucumber

I went to a party filled with leftist organizers
who consider themselves radicals
and work with veterans
though none of them have been to war

"I heard" she tells me
"Me too, I just heard five minutes ago,"
the other tells me
and I'm wondering just who the fuck is doing all this talking?

we get on the subject of ptsd
because they are all now experts
having worked with people suffering from ptsd
and she tells me about some exercises that will help me calm down

and i want to tell her that i'm cool
cool as a cucumber
and that actually this is the first time in my life
where i have just listened to myself and done exactly that

and if i need to cry, i do
and if i need to say no, i do
and if i need to freak the fuck out, i do
and if i need to be calm, i do.

there is always this part of me
afraid to stew in it
wanting everyone to tell me how strong i am
as i tuck away my own narrative and tell it as if it were someone else's.

but not this chapter
this one won't let me close it and just move on
it has a hold on me
one on each ankle.

and perhaps this hold ain't so bad
since the rug is gone
and all the furniture is upside down
and the ceiling is broken.

and all that should have been felt
is now being felt
and i am remembering myself as a little girl
who played her part ever so diligently

but now the show is mine
the narrative before me
the pages blank
and i'm looking for some new lines.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ghost Town

When I was growing up as an angry teenager in the Valley,
I used to think I saw my mom everywhere.
I saw her crossing the street, in the stands at the football game, driving a car...
One time I was so convinced I saw her driving towards me, I quickly stubbed out the cigarette I was smoking, as if her catching me would have meant something.
When the car passed and I could see the driver was not my mother,  I was angry at myself for stubbing the cigarette out and I quickly tried to salvage the broken butt.
My hallucinations were not totally unfounded. When I graduated the sixth grade, I told her not to come and she showed up.
And then at my 8th grade graduation, one of my aunts or maybe it was my dad told me she was standing at the back of the church when I received my creative writing award.
I never asked her if it was true. I didn't see her again until my high school graduation, which I did invite her to. She gave me a tiny gold necklace with three tiny diamonds and kept telling me that the diamonds were real. The necklace was real.
I got smashed out of my mind that night.
Still in the valley, sometimes I think I see her. But now that I want to see her I wonder if those living ghosts will go away.
I wonder about a new kind of haunting. Coming down the West Fourth subway station yesterday, I saw my grandmother on the platform waiting for the A train. She looked at me and then someone crossed in front of me. But when they passed, there was a different woman standing there.
It's the second time I've seen her waiting for the train.
This morning I read the New Yorker's review on Robin Hood,  the last movie in Hollywood I had my fingerprints on. The review deconstructs the character of Robin Hood and the many versions of his story and they describe Errol Flynn's merry Robin Hood walking on camera with a deer slung over his neck.
I am suddenly eight years old, watching the movie in my grandparents bed. I ask my grandfather if the deer is real and I can't remember his answer but it makes me feel better. I watched that movie every time I slept over at my grandparents house and every time in their bed where I would fall asleep and then magically wake up in the guest bedroom in the morning.
I hear his whistle all the time.
When I was in LA, I told Mike that this was not going to affect my everyday life.
As if I am ever really in control.
The difference is, I'm not scared this time. I'm just curious.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Return to Poetry

The descent into poetry
spelunking into a cave-
the Allegory of which
brings some macbre sense of freedom.

Plato was right
about all those fucking Forms-
they are that without which a thing
would not be the kind of thing it is.

But above the surface of the Earth
Nobody heard him, the dead man-
Like Stevie, I was much too far out
And not waving but drowning.

If the very nature of knowledge changes,
at the time when the change occurs
there will be no knowledge
-That fucking Plato.

All I want is The Missing Piece
Maybe I am too hungry-
The piece hiding
So I must keep rolling.

Into Nick Flynn's Empty Town
I find Jesus, naked and thorned-
his heart on fire, screaming,
Look what I did for you.

Touch one strand
the whole web trembles-
As in Schrodinger's theory of Entanglement
or maybe Rae Armantrout's.

If this world really is made up
of collisions or collapses-
Who the fuck is driving?
And what if we reach Ruskin's Bridge to Nowhere?

I wish I had been like Alice
reminding the White Queen
I can't go straight, you know,
if you pin it all on one side.

I was not exchanged in the cradle
but no one knows my name
Like Stafford's Story That Could Be True,
Maybe I'm a king.