“After Twelve Days of Rain” by Dorianne Laux (repost)


(read by Christy)

I couldn’t name it, the sweet
sadness welling up in me for weeks.
So I cleaned, found myself standing
in a room with a rag in my hand,
the birds calling time-to-go, time-to-go.
And like an old woman near the end
of her life I could hear it, the voice
of a man I never loved who pressed
my breasts to his hips and whispered
“My little doves, my white, white lilies.”
I could almost cry when I remember it.

I don’t remember when I began
to call everyone “sweetie,”
as if they were my daughters,
my darlings, my little birds.
I have always loved too much,
or not enough. Last night
I read a poem about God and almost
believed it—God sipping coffee,
smoking cherry tobacco. I’ve arrived
at a time in my life when I could believe
almost anything.

Today, pumping gas into my old car, I stood
hatless in the rain and the whole world
went silent—cars on the wet street
sliding past without sound, the attendant’s
mouth opening and closing on air
as he walked from pump to pump, his footsteps
erased in the rain—nothing
but the tiny numbers in their square windows
rolling by my shoulder, the unstoppable seconds
gliding by as I stood at the Chevron,
balancing evenly on my two feet, a gas nozzle
gripped in my hand, my hair gathering rain.

And I saw it didn’t matter
who had loved me or who I loved. I was alone.
The black oily asphalt, the slick beauty
of the Iranian attendant, the thickening
clouds—nothing was mine. And I understood
finally, after a semester of philosophy,
a thousand books of poetry, after death
and childbirth and the startled cries of men
who called out my name as they entered me,
I finally believed I was alone, felt it
in my actual, visceral heart, heard it echo
like a thin bell. And the sounds
came back, the slish of tires
and footsteps, all the delicate cargo
they carried saying thank you
and yes. So I paid and climbed into my car
as if nothing had happened—
as if everything mattered — What else could I do?

I drove to the grocery store
and bought wheat bread and milk,
a candy bar wrapped in gold foil,
smiled at the teenaged cashier
with the pimpled face and the plastic
name plate pinned above her small breast,
and knew her secret, her sweet fear—
Little bird. Little darling. She handed me
my change, my brown bag, a torn receipt,
pushed the cash drawer in with her hip
and smiled back.

Dorianne Laux, What We Carry. BOA Editions Ltd. (December 20, 2013).

*originally posted April 2, 2016

“I am fifty four years old, the age my mother was when she died. … (repost)


(read by Christy)

“I am fifty four years old, the age my mother was when she died. This is what I remember: We were lying on her bed with a mohair blanket covering us. I was rubbing her back, feeling each vertebra with my fingers as a rung on a ladder. It was January, and the ruthless clamp of cold bore down on us outside. Yet inside, Mother’s tenderness and clarity of mind carried its own warmth. She was dying in the same way she was living, consciously.

“I am leaving you all my journals,” she said, facing the shuttered window as I continued rubbing her back. “But you must promise me that you will not look at them until after I am gone.”

I gave her my word. And then she told me where they were. I didn’t know my mother kept journals.

A week later she died. That night, there was a full moon encircled by ice crystals.

On the next full moon I found myself alone in the family home. I kept expecting Mother to appear. Her absence became her presence. It was the right time to read her journals. They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful clothbound books; some floral, some paisley, others in solid colors. The spines of each were perfectly aligned against the lip of the shelves. I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It, too, was empty, as was the fourth, the fifth, the sixth – shelf after shelf after shelf, all my mother’s journals were blank.”

– Terry Tempest Williams
When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

*originally posted March 21, 2014

 

“Antilamentation” by Dorianne Laux (repost)


(read by Christy)

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punch line, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it. Let’s stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

~ Dorianne Laux, from The Book of Men: Poems

originally posted: 8/30/2014

“Photograph” by Andrea Gibson


Read by Christy

I wish I was a photograph
tucked into the corners of your wallet
I wish I was a photograph
you carried like a future in your back pocket
I wish I was that face you show to strangers
when they ask you where you come from
I wish I was that someone that you come from
every time you get there
and when you get there
I wish I was that someone who got phone calls
and postcards saying
wish you were here

I wish you were here
autumn is the hardest season
the leaves are all falling
and they’re falling like they’re falling in love with the ground
and the trees are naked and lonely
I keep trying to tell them
new leaves will come around in the spring
but you can’t tell trees those things
they’re like me they just stand there
and don’t listen

I wish you were here
I’ve been missing you like crazy
I’ve been hazy eyed
staring at the bottom of my glass again
thinking of that time when it was so full
it was like we were tapping the moon for moonshine
or sticking straws into the center of the sun
and sipping like Icarus would forever kiss
the bullets from our guns

I never meant to fire you know
I know you never meant to fire lover
I know we never meant to hurt each other
now the sky clicks from black to blue
and dusk looks like a bruise
I’ve been wrapping one night stands
around my body like wedding bands
but none of them fit in the morning
they just slip off my fingers and slip out the door
and all that lingers is the scent of you
I once swore if I threw that scent into a wishing well
all the wishes in the world would come true
do you remember

do you remember the night I told you
I’ve never seen anything more perfect than
than snow falling in the glow of a street light
electricity bowing to nature
mind bowing to heartbeat
this is gonna hurt bowing to I love you
I still love you like moons love the planets they circle around
like children love recess bells
I still hear the sound of you
and think of playgrounds
where outcasts who stutter
beneath braces and bruises and acne
are finally learning that their rich handsome bullies
are never gonna grow up to be happy
I think of happy when I think of you

so wherever you are I hope you’re happy
I really do
I hope the stars are kissing your cheeks tonight
I hope you finally found a way to quit smoking
I hope your lungs are open and breathing you life
I hope there’s a kite in your hand
that’s flying all the way up to Orion
and you still got a thousand yards of string to let out
I hope you’re smiling
like god is pulling at the corners of your mouth
cause I might be naked and lonely
shaking branches for bones
but I’m still time zones away
from who I was the day before we met
you were the first mile
where my heart broke a sweat
and I wish you were here
I wish you’d never left
but mostly I wish you well
I wish you my very very best

“Photograph” by Andrea Gibson, from Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns

Anyone familiar with Gibson’s work, knows that attempting to recite her poems is akin to a lounge singer trying to sing Whitney Houston. Today is a special occasion though, so I hope you enjoy. If you’d like to see Andrea’s performance, here ya go.

“When Love Arrives” by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye

“When Love Arrives” by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye, performing at Inner City Arts in Los Angeles. (Video via Button Poetry. Below transcript via Lucifer Meow.)


I knew exactly what Love looked like … in 7th grade.

Even though I hadn’t met Love yet, if Love had wandered into my home room I would have recognized him at first glance – Love wore a hemp necklace.
I would have recognized her at first glance – Love wore a tight French braid.
Love played acoustic guitar, and knew all my favorite Beatles’ songs.
Love wasn’t afraid to ride the bus with me.
And I knew I just must be searching the wrong class room, just must be checking the wrong hallway.
She was there, I was sure of it.
If only I could find him.

But when Love finally showed up – she had a bull cut!
He wore the same clothes everyday for a week.
Love hated the bus.
Love didn’t know anything about the Beatles.

Instead, every time I tried to kiss Love, our teeth got in the way!!!

Love became the reason I lied to my parents. I’m going to Ben’s house.
Love had terrible rhythm on the dance floor but made sure we never miss a slow song.
Love waited by the phone because she knew if her father picked up that’d be “Hello”… “Hh..” “Hello?” “Hh…” “I guess I’d hang up.”

And Love grew.
Stretched like a trampoline.

Love changed.
Love disappeared, slowly, like baby teeth.
Loosing parts of me I thought I needed.

Love vanished.
Like an amateur magician everyone could see the trapdoor but me.
Like a flat tire – there were other places I had planned on going.
But my plan didn’t matter.

Love stayed away for years.
And when Love finally reappeared, I barely recognized him.

Love smells different now, had darker eyes.
A broader back, Love came with freckles that I didn’t recognize.
New birth mark – a softer voice.
Now there were new sleeping patterns.
New favorite books.
Love had songs that reminded him of someone else.
Songs Love didn’t like to listen to, so did I.

But we found a park bench that fit us perfectly.
We found jokes that make us laugh.
And now Love makes me fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies.
(But Love will probably finish most of them for a midnight snack.)

Love looks great in lingerie but still likes to wear her retainer.
Love is a terrible driver, but a great navigator.
Love knows where she’s going, it just might take her two hours longer than she planned.
Love is messier now.
Love is simple.
Love uses the word boobs in front of my parents!
Love chews too loud.
Love leaves the cap off the toothpaste.
Love uses a smiley face in her text messages.
And turns out… Love shits.

But Love also cries;
And Love will tell you “You are beautiful”, and mean it.
Over and over again.

You are beautiful.”

When you first wake up, “You are beautiful.”
When you’ve just been crying, “You are beautiful.”
When you don’t wanna hear it, “You are beautiful.”
When you don’t believe it, “You are beautiful.”
When nobody else will tell you, “You are beautiful.”
Love still thinks, “You are beautiful.”
But Love is not perfect and will sometimes forget.
When you need to hear it most, “You are beautiful.”

Do not forget this.
Love is not who you were expecting.
Love is not what you can predict.
Maybe Love is in New York City already asleep.
You are in California, Australia, wide awake.
Maybe Love is always in the wrong time-zone.
Maybe Love is not ready for you.
Maybe you are not ready for Love.

Maybe Love just isn’t the marrying type.
Maybe the next time you see Love is 20 years after the divorce.
Love looks older now but just as beautiful as you remember.
Maybe Love is only there for a month.
Maybe Love is there for every firework. Every birthday party. Every hospital visit.
Maybe Love stays. Maybe Love can’t. Maybe Love shouldn’t.

Love arrives exactly when Love is supposed to and Love leaves exactly when Love must.
When Love arrives, say, “Welcome. Make yourself comfortable.”
If Love leaves, ask her to leave the door open behind her.
Turn off the music. Listen to the quiet.
Whisper, “Thank you for stopping by.”