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My head in these clouds
Learning not to call myself a dumb bitch with the help of poems! (Also therapy.) What I'm saying is poems are important.
A nice thing I’ve managed to do for my brain in my nearly 38 years on earth is read at least ten thousand poems. Maybe more.
Math is not my best event. I always preferred words.
The point is there’s a part of my mind that’s made a home for only beauty. Flowers and poetry. I know so many lines by heart.
I do not mean to brag.
I’m grateful for this memory…sometimes. Other times, less so, or not at all. I don’t particularly love, for instance, recalling every terrible thing I’ve ever done, and what I wore when I did it, and worse maybe, every terrible thing done to me, and what I wanted to say but didn’t.
I do love being good with names. Helping a friend retrace their steps and find their keys, or sense of self. I do love moving through my life and its days, recalling a lovely bit of language I read somewhere along the way that is perfect for just. this. moment.
For instance, even right now, I consider the blessing and burden of my elephant mind, and I think then of The Glass Essay, and the words Anne Carson strung together, exactly in this order:
You remember too much,
my mother said to me recently.
Why hold onto all that? And I said,
Where can I put it down?
For as often as it may feel like I’m at war with it, I will never begrudge my mind for making constellations.
If you’ve been here a minute, or you’ve known me more than a month, you may have picked up there’s a voice in my head that isn’t always terribly kind to me. She can be downright cruel, and seems to exist solely to call me a dumb bitch. We all need a part to play, I suppose.
(Don’t fret; it’s all coming together.)
An unexpected effect of writing these little love letters of mine every week (or so) is how much quieter that voice has become. I attribute this to not just the writing, but the reading. How many poems I’ve lingered on to keep myself and this animal fed. How by reshuffling my time and attention to create something small, but sweet for you who is reading this right this moment, my life has become a little kinder. Softer. A little bit more mine. In the place of that cruel and chiding voice, there is sometimes, and more often these days, something more tender, and she whispers poems at me. And helps me whisper poems at you.
I watch the blossoms fall from early summer and think I’ll take it all. To the dear one nursing a broken heart, I sing I love you joy is coming. I will, before I’m done with all of this, tattoo on my wrist the words I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you. Just the other day I ran down the hall to pet the small, living dog at the other end of it, screaming Love, I pound the earth for you.
If there’s a point, maybe it’s this: I am grateful to be here with you, and all these gorgeous scraps of language. They make my world more bearable. They make a certain sense of it.
Which is why I’m reading a book of poems each day for the month of August, as part of the Sealey Challenge, which is free to do and you can start anytime, including today.
(If you need some books of poems, page me. I have hundreds. Not a brag! Just a fact.)
Sprinkled into my August stack I’ve included a few old favorites, books and poems I’ve not returned to in gosh, I guess so many years. There is one that’s been burned into my heart for ages, and seeing it again with my own two eyes the other evening stirred something loving in me.
It made me want to reach out to the poet himself, with whom I once had a friendly connection that faded naturally when he slipped away from social media to live a better life. I dug up his email address and spun the wheel. Told him how much, even still, his work means to me, and by the way, that first book, As In Every Deafness, did he know it was 100% completely out of print and stock everywhere, except for a single copy available for $200 on Jeff Bezos’ stupid, horrible website? And did he happen to have a spare copy lying about, as it seemed suddenly, urgently imperative that I send one to Sofia, my number one favorite person for sharing about poems with? And wouldn’t you know, he did.
Which is a good reminder to give people their flowers while they’re still here.
And also to take a chance on asking the question.
And always to read your favorite poems again. Again and again. Again.
by Graham Foust
Here’s the quick
manage to hang
from my panic
and leave everything
Screaming, Loving Reminder
Tonight is the night. My friend who I married wrote the beautiful book. Tonight we celebrate it.
City Lit in Logan Square. 6:30pm, followed by drinks at Lula, and then hot dogs on our back deck. Do come if you can. I’m going to read a few poems. None of them will be this one, but one of them almost was:
We don’t do math on Sundays
Infinite by my count, which is admittedly
impatient and more often than not incorrect,
there are possibly precisely infinite manners
of love and taking care, among them:
asking how many apples and are you okay,
a breath at the door and my softest once through,
how much it is to listen,
how much it is to speak,
to say for instance say it,
the exact thing,
no matter how wretched,
no matter how strange
because there’s no thing so wretched that cannot
be shared, no thing so strange that stands alone—
a different way to say you are not now
nor will you ever again be alone
and reminder: a feeling is not a fact
but is no less real—
my disastrous attempts, cups of tea in the morning,
five minutes of silence for the first time today,
an end to the silence,
a return to me, home.
Anywhere you are where
I am too is nearly impossible,
in all of the times and the places
and ways we could have been
we are these two, somehow, with
so many ways to say I am here.
Okay. Drink water. Stay safe.