Monday, January 06, 2014

You Are Poetry

Have you ever seen the movie 28 Days?  There's a part in it where a girl is leaving rehab and her fellow rehab inmates make her "therapy signs" to send her on her way.  The one I liked the most said (and I'm paraphrasing here) "Don't ever be anyone's slogan, because you are poetry".  I immediately thought of that quote when my friend Bobbie posted this on her facebook page.

Jon Tribble is proposing to flood Facebook with poetry! Someone assigns you a poet, you post one of their poems, and if people like the post, you assign poets to them. Elizabeth Rosner assigned me Tony Hoagland. If you like this post, I will assign you a poet (and you may need to wait a week or so as I'll be away for a while.):

Don’t Tell Anyone

By Tony Hoagland

"We had been married for six or seven years

when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me

that she screams underwater when she swims—

that, in fact, she has been screaming for years

into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool

where she does laps every other day.

Buttering her toast, not as if she had been

concealing anything,

not as if I should consider myself

personally the cause of her screaming,

nor as if we should perform an act of therapy

right that minute on the kitchen table,

—casually, she told me,

and I could see her turn her square face up

to take a gulp of oxygen,

then down again into the cold wet mask of the unconscious.

For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming

as they go through life, silently,

politely keeping the big secret

that it is not all fun

to be ripped by the crooked beak

of something called psychology,

to be dipped down

again and again into time;

that the truest, most intimate

pleasure you can sometimes find

is the wet kiss

of your own pain.

There goes Kath, at one pm, to swim her twenty-two laps

back and forth in the community pool;

—what discipline she has!

Twenty-two laps like twenty-two pages,

that will never be read by anyone."

Being a lover of poetry, I loved the idea.  But I'm also a lover of new and original works.  And a lover of forcing people outside of their comfort zones...and when I say people, I include myself in that statement.  So I proposed that instead of assigning someone a poet and they have to post a poem written by that person, why not assign the poet as the reader/participant.  I went first and I sat down and wrote a short poem to post to my friend's poetry thread.  It's rough, it needs fine tuning, and it isn't necessarily deep, but it is true, and poetry is nothing if not filtered observations of truth.  Of course after I posted it I immediately thought of 10 things I wanted to change about it, but I had already pushed it out of the proverbial nest to fend for itself in the big bad world.  Here's my 5 minute poem.

My Bookshelf, by Suzanne Hickman

My twenties were a book titled “I don’t know where I’m going, but I know what I’m doing”,

Blank pages filled with the potential of brilliant words,
Soon filled with typos,
Soon filled with stains,
Soon filled with the red pen of hindsight.
My twenties were a book titled “I don’t know where I’m going, but I know what I’m doing”
You can find it in on the shelf next to my thirties, tentatively titled “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I finally know who I am.”

My challenge to you, dear readers, is to give yourself five minutes to write a poem.  It can be about anything; the way the sun shines off of fresh snow, the hair on your toes, your first love, a car crash, your neighbor's cat...ANYTHING.  Just sit down and write something.  After the five minutes are up, get up, and walk away.  Set your poem free to be what it is and have a life of its own.  And if you're really brave, post it here, I'd love to read it.


Anonymous said...

I took your challenge, but I think I took more than 5 minutes on it. It's something I've been meaning to write down for a little while, so thanks for giving me the excuse. I followed you here from your comment on Eli McCann's blog.

our new kitchen floor does little
to abate the noise of four hungry
children, eager for their breakfast--
mornings like this I miss the carpet
we tore up; the milk stains
and ground in cornflakes
were easier to ignore.

when silence is won, by persistent
parental fiat, I add as afterword:
"This isn't Whoville!"
a reference I hope will illustrate
the ruckus they raised. After all,
it's just breakfast, not life or death.

in the welcome quiet I hear
echoing, as if from far away
We are here! We are here!
We are here! We are here!
I watch the kids sedately spooning
sugars into stilled mouths.

maybe this is Whoville after all.

The Suzzzz said...

Anonymous, wow. I'm not particular parental or domestic, but that gave me a lump in my throat and a lot of conflicted feelings. It was beautiful, thank you for sharing!