We the Birds (poem)

Flannery O’Connor says, “I write to discover what I know.” I love this sentiment, but I also write to discover what I don’t know. The following poem came from a freewriting session…and I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with it. I like it, and it speaks to me, but I can’t exactly articulate the feelings it stirs.

Writing for me is something mysterious. I feel truth when I write, and then I stand back and say, “What am I trying to tell myself?” I usually have an idea or two, and sometimes I just shrug and say, “Erm…okay. I guess I needed to get that out.”

We the Birds

We eat from the ground
and shake with purpose,
remembering the night
we were set free and how
the rest of the flock stayed
in the girl’s night-dark hair,
which was a nest, a memory,
all things to all people
and all things to all birds.

You overthink everything,
your mother the crow blinks
in Morse code, and a small
man with hollow knees sits
at the desk and takes down
the words, his eyes dots,
his mouth a dash, his ears
two seashells–if you listen

to them, you don’t hear the sea
but the endless drone of space,
that cold nothingness, that eternal
home of ours that calls us now,
even though we’re only birds,
even though we know nothing.

Tale of the Sad Girl and the Sad Boy

As some of you know, I have clinical depression. I treat it with medication and go to therapy, but there’s no magic pill, just as there are no magic words that will ever completely banish my depression. I manage it, and some days are better than others. Today’s not a great day.

Writing helps. This poem showed up and reminded me that I need people in my life, though my instinct is to withdraw and isolate.

Tale of the Sad Girl and the Sad Boy

I’m so sad, she said.
Me too, he replied. Let’s be sad together.
No, that’s a bad idea.
Why is that a bad idea?
Two sad people make exponentially more
sadness…it isn’t just taking your sadness
and mine and combining them–it multiplies and multiples
until you stop counting the tears and start measuring
sadness in lifetimes, entire generations lost
to the darkness with no hope of it ever lifting.

Oh, he said.

Yeah, she said.

And so they parted, with regrets,
but knowing they’d probably made the right decision.

Untitled #1 (poem)

I’m not in the habit of leaving poems untitled, nor am I in the habit of playing with line breaks and a poem’s visual form. This came to me a few moments ago, and after a little revision, I’ve decided to leave it as it is and ignore the critic inside me screaming, “Give it a title and left-justify the thing, you moron!”

 

do not fool yourself
the bumper sticker read
and I punched my head
damn it
while I waited for the light
to turn green
but it stayed
red as blood
red as sin

red
red
red
green

and I exploded
as if just born
determined finally
to go somewhere

Jenny and the Gorgon (freewriting)

Writing something weird is better than writing nothing at all, eh?

Do you remember the time with scaled that mountain and you fell and busted your back? Jesus, you were laid up for six months in the hospital, and you did all that physical therapy. What was the therapist’s name? You slept with him, which is all kinds of fucked up, but I try not to judge. I try and fail. Ha ha.

Darren, that was his name. I’m not saying he wasn’t attractive, but you getting in bed with him made as much sense as a lizard in a blender, which–I don’t mind telling you–doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense at all. That’s what my daddy used to say, before he turned to stone. Speaking of weird-ass things, how many people you know that just, like, suddenly turn to stone? It threw me for a bit, I’ll tell you. And when other people started turning to stone, I figured it was some kind of chemical attack, some country that had cooked up this lethal gas that made people into statues. But it turned out a gorgon had gotten loose, which would mean that she had been held somewhere to begin with, for something like a thousand years, and then she was set free and she was like, “Fuck, it’s been a long time, I’m going to set these eyes on the first miserable bastard that comes along,” and bam, just like that, Daddy was stone. He had just woken up, had his first cup of coffee, and opened the front door. Little did he know a gorgon was slithering down the street.

That’s the kind of fucked-up world we live in, Jenny. Trump in the White House, gorgons roaming the streets, ol’ Ms. Shookapoo coming down with the gout. Did you know women could get gout? I thought it was a man thing. Hell, I hope I don’t get it.

No, Jenny, it wasn’t Medusa! Lord God! It was another one. Maybe they cut her head off and put it in a bag, and they’ll keep it around in case something big-ass monster shows up, like they did with Medusa, who’s apparently the only gorgon you think existed. Crack a book open, Jenny, and get off that damn YouTube!

I swear, you and the YouTube! Its like you think it’s magic or something. Maybe it is magic for you and you’re under its damn spell, so I think it would be best if I just smashed the daylights out of the computer and run over your phone in my truck. Then what, Jenny? Then you’d be more worried about the damn gorgon, is what.

 

Waiting (poem)

I’ve been thinking about home a lot lately…my own birthplace and the general concept of belonging. I feel rather rootless, despite having lived in my current city for thirteen years. Something is calling me back to my home state of Alabama, but I’m not sure what. I need to plan a trip.

This poem, though written some time ago, fits my emotional state today.

Waiting

The fragrance of your shoulders lingers
like the shadow in the doorway the day you left,
dooming the crops to failure, the clouds to gridlock,
the birds to perpetual restlessness.

I hold a postcard from you
that shows a black-and-white lighthouse
with the words: Glad I finally got away.

I don’t blame you, of course—
I would have gotten away, too, had my legs
not been encased in the iron of this town,
my will tied to the whimsy of the librarian
who still frowns me down when I’m overdue.

Perhaps curiosity (not desire) will drive you back home
and you’ll find me. By then, I’ll be bent at the waist,
my thoughts riddled with holes, but I’ll know you,
never having forgotten you in the first place.