Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Release, sweetheart. Let it go. Let the healing power flow".

The Salt Eaters, Toni Cade Bambara, 1992

Describe Yourself in Three Words or Less

by Rita Dove

I'm not the kind of person who praises
openly, or for profit; I'm not the kind
who will steal a scene unless
I've designed it. I'm not a kind at all,
in fact: I'm itchy and pug-willed,
gnarled and wrong-headed,
never amorous but possessing
a wild, thatched soul.

Each night I set my boats to sea
and leave them to their bawdy business.
Whether they drift off
maddened, moon-rinsed,
or dock in the morning
scuffed and chastened --
is simply how it is, and I gather them in.

You are mine , I say to the twice-dunked cruller
before I eat it. Then I sing
to the bright-beaked bird outside,
then to the manicured spider
between window and screen;
then I will stop, and forget the singing.
(See? I have already forgotten you.)


i've been working on a series of poems that engage ghosts--in whatever form they come in: personal, cultural, historical, literal, etc.--which means that i'm constantly looking for new ways to approach the topic, always inviting ghosts to make themselves at home in my creative den.

There are a few subjects that i've been having trouble entering, but have been poking their thirsty heads up for a drink of a poem anyway--painful relationships, family fissures, sexualized racialized violence, healing work, among others. i've tried to be both generous and honest, but it's draining and difficult work that begs a break every once in a while.

If you live in New York city, you've likely seen these ghost bikes around town:

quiet memorials to the cyclists killed in traffic, plastered in permanent white paint. This one was additionally adorned with flowers and a sign above:

Small airy grave for 169 people--travelers--the dead unrecognized. It was breathtaking in its simplicity. It was an incredibly empowering human moment to know there was a public space to mourn people i didn't know, but whose lives were bound up in mine, given our similar choices of transportation.

A welcome break from my personal ghosts. Something right about the day.

"Quit wrasslin, sweetheart, or you may go under. I'm throwing you the life line. Don't be too proud to live"

The Salt Eaters, Toni Cade Bambara, 1992