poems from a monday night #2

two miles past the diner we broke down again,

that fall-apart car

and me.

for ashley rose

 

two miles past the diner we broke down again,

that fall-apart car

and me.

 

our smoke hid inside forestfire sky,

so we’d laughed

our way down

unseen swirls,

busted-radiator gray.

 

when we pulled over

and the truth spiraled out

i stared at the smoke,

and you stared

at me.

 

with jokes on your lips

you held me together

more mechanic than gas-station men

with sentences and cigarettes

and yesterdays.

 

in the end we only made it to the roadside casino,

stashed our things

left the car

and hitched home.

 

i had keys in my pocket

to leave the next day

but i slept in your bed that night

and the rest

waiting for my car

and

waiting

to

stay.

 

-h

 

Why I Blog

After the late film critic Roger Ebert lost his ability to speak as a by product of numerous intense surgeries, he threw himself into online blogging. It was called Roger’s Journal, a title that I particularly latched onto because the writing wasn’t limited to what had become his niche profession, but instead was a collection of anything in his mind. Journalist Janet Maslin said, “Ebert writes as if it were a matter of life and death. Because it is.” 

After the late film critic Roger Ebert lost his ability to speak as a by product of numerous intense surgeries, he threw himself into online blogging. It was called Roger’s Journal, a title that I particularly latched onto because the writing wasn’t limited to what had become his niche profession, but instead was a collection of anything in his mind. Journalist Janet Maslin said, “Ebert writes as if it were a matter of life and death. Because it is.”

Ebert was blogging because he had to blog – because it was a matter of being heard, or not being heard.  A matter of existing or not existing.

There is plenty to dissect here. Ebert was, more or less, shouting his final thoughts and musings for the world to hear, all so without a voice.  I’ve often wonder what kind of benefit this project had on his grieving process, deep below the surface. At the end of the day, one our most human fears is being forgotten once we’re gone. We live inside our own heads for so much of our lives. We have thoughts and fears, small pleasures and intense joys that, really, we can only feel because these things exist solely inside our own selves. So, once we die, so do these things.

For example, I can tell you about how the song Suicide is Painless by Manic Street Preachers makes me sleepy. Sometimes, it even makes me cry. Maybe the song stirs something inside you too, but still, you could never hear it the exact same way I hear it. You’ve never listened to the instrumental version play in the dark from my childhood bedroom from down the hall before a rerun of MASH.

This is a memory or an event or just a human thing strictly for me. These are passing shower thoughts, or while driving to work alone in the early morning. They’re often so fleeting that we don’t even ruminate on them too long ourselves.

But these small, every day thoughts and occurrences are what end of piling together to be our lives. Feel them. Acknowledge them. Out loud, I have said hello to the trees in my yard, or the rocks I sit on overlooking the ocean. Hello, good morning. I’m alive again today, isn’t that wonderful? It’s certainly a pleasure to feel you today, breeze.

These are the kind of things I want to blog about. To celebrate the ordinary and to be the archenemy to apathy. Much like Ebert, this blog has become a practice in existing. A thesis on staying alive. A matter of life or death.

I want to mention here that it’s terrifying to share these things and I have to imagine it’s equally nerve wracking for Heather. When you share, you open yourself to criticism. And criticism has and will come. Some harsher than others. The ones that will hurt the most come from people you would hope understand. The people who fear criticism the most will attack you. Keep that in mind. Someone once told me that if you like what you’ve created, then chances are so will at least one other person on Earth. You’re not an island, you’re not so different. You’ll find your audience, you will find your people. And won’t that be so wonderful.

You can find Roger’s Journal here.

A

what I’m reading: Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

what I’m listening to: Snowmine

 

 

slices, how to make this place our home

We had pie. All of us, I mean. Feeling vaguely reminiscent of a large family gathering, with all the windows and doors open to let in the newly August air, we gathered around the oven and shared large scoops of vanilla ice cream that melted almost immediately. In the background, everything hurt a little less, but in the way a computer updates without you even noticing. You used to have to tell your computer: yes, now is the time to move forward! But now, it all just happens automatically. 

We had pie. All of us, I mean. Feeling vaguely reminiscent of a large family gathering, with all the windows and doors open to let in the newly August air, we gathered around the oven and shared large scoops of vanilla ice cream that melted almost immediately. In the background, everything hurt a little less, but in the way a computer updates without you even noticing. You used to have to tell your computer: yes, now is the time to move forward! But now, it all just happens automatically.

“I’m going to drink my ice cream.” one of us declared, before immediately doing just that. We all validated the decision with heavy enthusiasm.

It was blueberry. The pie, I mean. I think this detail is important for you to know.

Perhaps, you’ve been here before. Swaddled by cigarette smoke and people. Everyone takes carefully constructed bites because the pie has become an event. Something we all want to acknowledge that we appreciate out loud.

‘We took it out too early.’

‘But, you know what, I like it that way! It’s better this way anyway. Our imperfect, perfect pie.’

How easy is suddenly felt to be alive. I recently read an article on nostalgia and how it relates to food (read it here) and I wondered if I’d spend my entire life trying to recreate this slice of pie. Would I be on my deathbed one day thinking, “Life peaked at blueberry pie.”

(Writing this now, I snap the elastic band on my wrist once against my flesh. A trick my therapist recommended. I’m unclear about the details of when you’re actually supposed to snap it, but the right moments seem to present themselves to me like they’re scheduled. Snap to life, snap to reality.

Like children, we hesitated going to bed that night, staying up well past our usual bed times for no reason at all. Long past the end of conversations. Occasionally someone might say, “I should go to bed” without getting up, without even the intention of getting up. There were eight of us, then, suddenly, seven, six, five.. (I like to think of Bowie counting down in Space Oddity)

Then, without our consent, the night became early morning and there was only two of us left. Warriors waging a one sided battle against time.  I concentrated on keeping every muscles in my body steady, thinking I could become stuck in time if I was careful enough. But even still, my heart pulsed, my nails grew, my lungs expanded and then contracted. A busy highway pretending to be still water.

I’ve eaten blueberry pie before. It’s tasted like familiar stains in old carpet, the heat of Illinois in the summer right before a big storm, pulling folding chairs out of the garage so everyone has a place to sit. It’s been many things. Frequently, it tastes like a beginning and an ending all in one slice. Like, “Why haven’t we done this before? We’re alive every single day, but we only eat blueberry pie on special occasions.” Like, “Let’s start having pie for breakfast!”

I’m going to eat pie again, though I can’t tell you exactly which flavor yet. But when I do, it’s going to taste brand new, and it’s going to taste like a home, and hopefully then I’ll turn to you and say:

‘We had pie. All of us.’

A