I’ve been quiet the last few days. Reason: I joined a Poetry Slam team that will represent Albuquerque in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam this year. So, that’s taking ALL my extra time. But I did manage to get a haiku done today:
It’s day 6 of NaPoWriMo and I’m trying another new style: a cinquain. Basically, 5 lines, 2 syllables for the first, 4 for the second, 6 in the third, 8 in the fourth, 2 in the last. Here goes:
I’m very on the fence about this poem. Mostly because I know abuse IS violence in every sense of the word. And I don’t want to cheapen the ugly, immoral, illegal activity of abuse. Too much time is spent blaming the victim in many cases. What I’m trying to show is that the violence itself is not really the worst of it. It’s the part we refuse to talk about that is the worst. It’s the unspoken pain that comes after the bruises heal. It’s the fear and destruction it does to the survivor’s psyche, self-esteem, self-worth, and everything that entails.
Also, the last two lines, the request, is directed at both abuser and survivor. Abuser: take a moment to think about what you’re actually doing beyond the physical, sexual, emotional violence; reconsider your actions. Survivor: take a moment to think about why you’re responding to this non-abuser the way you are. Survivors tend to self-destruct and destroy all they love, unintentionally, by way of the untreated trauma that comes with abuse.
So don’t be surprised if you come back here and this poem is gone. I have a feeling it too many will take this incorrectly, or that what it actually says is something unintentional.
This time I had a poem published in an anthology, Bear the Pall: Stories and Poems About the Loss of a Parent.
I was actually published a couple months ago but I’ve been keeping it on the down low. The poem I wrote, Hate, was never meant to see the light of day. The pain I divulged and the turbulence I expected it to created kept me from talking about it at all. But the reception was amazing. The editor has been very supportive, the other authors have been fantastic, and of course, everyone’s contributions have been incredibly heartfelt and touching.
And, frankly, reception from friends and family has been more positive than I expected. It’s rare that my heart is knee deep in my stories. So having a poem that had nothing but me in it and the possibility of losing friends when they saw the monster I hide from the world, and the possibility of family reading it and seeing me for the dick I am, I expected the worst.
So buy a copy. Read my poem. Read others’ contributions. They’re all amazing. Have a box of tissues at the ready.
This poem was written during a talk by Jules Nyquist at the UNM Writers Conference today.
Short story ahead of the poem: It turns out that I sat in on a similar talk by Nyquist 2 years ago at the ABQ Book Fiesta. When I made that connection, I mentioned it to Nyquist and thanked her for my first poetry publication that happened this month. We had a great conversation.
Also, I met a bunch of great writers today at the conference. Shout out to Susan and Bryan, Mary who also had a 1 on 1 with Liz Trupin-Tulli, and Marsha (a poet). Mary managed to make me both calmer and MORE nervous about meeting and pitching my manuscript to Liz. To be fair, I thought Liz was incredibly intimidating. Not true! Very friendly. Very kind.
I think I completely bombed my 1 on 1 pitch but I think the plot spoke for itself enough to make Liz give me a chance. I’m sending my first 50 pages to her this week (per her request)!!!
On to the poem. The prompt: take “As I recall the meal I ate…” and make something of it. Nyquist read the entire original poem, but much like Finding Forrester, find our words by starting with some of theirs.
As I recall the meal I ate
was sitting there waiting
The sticky scent of over-browned
Mom kept her eyes on dad.
Dad kept his eyes on the floor.
Brother and I couldn’t
keep our eyes anywhere.
Wondering if we could eat.
Hamburger Helper gets crusty
if you don’t touch it too quick.
A decade of marriage later
I can’t help but think our love faded.
Our vows feel so far behind us,
like a black and white movie reel
sputtering a young love of long ago.
If asked, neither of us can remember
how long we’ve been married,
how long we’ve been together,
without counting fingers, looking at the wall.
The other day I found myself
staring at a different, more refined woman.
Watching her bright eyes and inviting
smile – daring me to take her home.
The soft bounce of her hair
matching the luscious
movements of her curves.
A shiver bubbled up from
somewhere deep inside.
And I realized…
I get to take that woman home
and hold her till our arms are numb.
Because our love has faded,
faded into a something deeper, stronger.