Love & Fear

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As far as pure prose, Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down & Wept is my favorite book of all time. I believe I have read this slim but heart-packed masterpiece over a dozen times since first finding my copy in a used book store in Athens, Ohio while I was in college. That store is no longer there, but my memories of it and the day I found this book hidden between science fiction pulp are stark and severe.
I had never heard of this book, of Elizabeth Smart, or of the poet George Barker before that day. It was less than a dollar and after buying it, I read it almost immediately. The book’s slim majesty and pulpy smell was a veritable aphrodisiac. I read it in one emotional sitting. I felt transformed. It was akin to the feeling I had when I first read Emily Dickinson — something was pounding a little harder in my chest, the ground beneath my feet had more meaning and more roiling joy and sadness. This book meant so much to me then, and in the years to come, but now it resonates like a canker sore clinging stubbornly to the linings of my mouth and heart.
This book spoke to me more the other night when I read it again than it ever had … I felt, in an absolute sense, what Smart feels in the book. By Grand Central Station is an autobiographical prose work like no other. In this slim volume, Smart managed gracefully the arduous task of compiling her every emotion, thought, hangup, and confusion with her lover, poet George Barker. The proverbial monkey wrench in this affair was Barker being married to another woman, but always being with Smart as well, even having several children by her. She could never really resolve this within herself. But she also couldn’t bring herself to leave the willing (however not wholly willing) arms of the man she loved.
What I face now and see in all of this is not a conundrum just like Smart’s, but a defacement of my own heart in my refusal to accept this. This. Love and fear like choking on the thought of never again being near one particular set of lips just far enough down several roads to be close and not. Fear comes. Loss comes. And then those thoughts start again … those bad neurotic words pounding themselves into me like otherworldly leeches … buried and burning and I never feel I can come back up for air as they suck suck my soul with their prehistoric, painful flair.
I only hope this moment I can speak about it a few sentences to that particular ear that matters.
I only hope so many things right now.
Published in: on March 25, 2008 at 1:37 am  Leave a Comment  

some things are on the mend

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Since I received the great and massive gift of the Remington Rand typewriter, my mind has been filled with so much. Using the typewriter — feeling and hearing the keys, the wiping motion of moving the cartridge lever — gives all of it an added texture I feel I often need when writing a poem. And as I become more and more surrounded in my apartment by old photos of my family, they are on my mind so constantly. My chapbook, Ohio Lonely was orginally going to be about the children’s author, Dare Wright, but now … now it has manifested into a family history in poems. My father has even come around in talking about our family … seeming to excitedly be telling me stories. Grandma in the china factory … Grandpa working as a bartender in the Moose Lodge. My dad shooting the eyes out of his sisters’ dolls with a BB gun …
Things generally seem to be on the mend: Lou Lou’s home from the hospital. My mom says she’s doing better than she had been. She suffers from Unipolar Depression and her meds were a little off … but she’s on the mend. I am writing her a poem … my mom said she’ll love that. She has come to a reading before and looked to be crying when I looked up. But Lou Lou always looks to be on the brink of tears.
I reconnected with a writer friend and fellow vintage typewriter owner which is nice. She is writing a very Beckett-ian play I am dying to see.
There are always things, beautiful things, to work on … and this photo is my new muse … my aunts Shelby (on bike) and Shirley. You can see their personalities in this photo so well —
Shelby as the shy one, and Shirley as the femme fatale. The poem I am writing about her now discusses her hips getting her into trouble … “but you only needed someone / to care about your capability of courage. /risking it all with one man in the headlights /
headlights silent and waiting to be born in movement.”
Waiting to be born in movement … aren’t we all?
Aren’t we all in our own long process of being on the mend?
To mending like a seamtress in a sun-soaked upstairs room somewhere.
Published in: on March 19, 2008 at 5:53 pm  Comments (3)  

Cheers, Lou Lou …

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Well this is very significant holiday in my family.
My cousin who loves it so … I just heard is in the psych ward in Ohio.
That’s where she will be it seems for awhile.
I guess I ask for slow, tiny, and sumptuous thoughts
and prayers for her.
And of course a drink or two …
Cheers, Lou Lou … love you.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Published in: on March 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

It is silent in my room, a #4 on my door …

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Last night was prolific as it was difficult.
I wrote 4 poems in my #4 apartment.
I had 4 cups of tea.
And my dead aunt came to visit me.
My father saw his dead father last week in my old bedroom at home. He was standing by the window and said: “Lee is still crying.” Lee is the uncle I had written about here who just recently and suddenly passed away of a heart attack. And last night my aunt Shirley said, “I’m still crying.” Part of me believes all of these voices and visions by myself and my father to be subconscious happenings, but I wonder about that when it is so real and my body gets a feeling that is truly indescribable,
a feeling I never feel unless these “visitations” occur.
This photo is my Aunt Shirley’s senior picture. In her 30s
(and I am 30 now) she wore black eyeliner
and mascara to further set off what she called / calls the “dark moons” under her eyes.
And now as I am 30 using cold cream and eye makeup as she did,
our resemblance speaks to something odd and ethereal.
I don’t know what, how, or why really.
But I aim to someday figure it out.
Published in: on March 9, 2008 at 6:00 pm  Comments (2)