Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ordinary Genius 1

A few months ago, I picked up Kim Addonizio's Ordinary Genius. It's a series of discussions on poetry, awareness, and writing. I was writing poetry long before I ever had a pencil or paintbrush in my hand. The earliest poems were typical teenaged drivel about love and about how unfair life seemed to be. (Visit Kim Addonizio and check out her books here.)

There were a few jewels. I read one about a friend who died from cocaine overdose at a poetry reading when I was 18 or so, and it went over well with the audience. 

But when poetry, and fiction writing comes into the fore, my paintings and drawings fall back. And visa versa. I can only create so much. 

I'm in the middle of painting a Shoebill, and alternately thinking he's finished and think I should paint over him and start over. And that was when I found myself picking up Addonizio's book.

The first few chapters were absorbed in a flash, and I found myself itching to write poetry. The last time that I wrote poetry, we had just come home from visiting my mother, who has been slowly fading and who had been sick. I had to do something with those feelings of helplessness and pain. One of my favorite pieces came from that period. 

Grey Leather (2011)

by ~Neheti

I wrap my arms around this leather sack
The bones click beneath the embrace
Blades of the shoulders carving me open
The grey sack smiles with grey eyes
That used to be black as night
And I peel away afraid,

I wrap my arms around this leather sack
of wasted flesh and lengthy years
and shards of femur and ulna scrape
leaving scars of pink and drops of blood
The grey sack shifts against me
worn down by time and poverty.
overcome, I want to flee
to deny what this has become.

I wrap my arms around this leather sack
the smell of old cigarettes and rot fills my nose with nausea
The jaw bones clack and snap with lazy abandon
So heavy in my heart
My tears get swallowed back
and I fear
I hear my mother's voice.

I'm sure that it needs further refining, and I've reworked it a few times since. 

But now, now I'm writing purely for enjoyment, as opposed to catharsis. There's certainly some pain in some of what has come out, but there's also humor, and joy. 

On Turning 99

No one will care if a careless fuck slips from my toothless mouth.
I'll still dance and sing and rant and
bring my best flirtations
to make my beloved smile. 
I'll lift my shirt
and remind him how much
we made each other
In my chair, I'll rule my roost with impunity (but fairly)
run off those young'uns in their sixties and seventies
unless they're cute.
I'll sing along in spit of my deafness
and embarrass my nieces and nephews. 
No one will know what to do with me
as I stomp and shimmy
my way to the end. 

I'll be glorious
and beautiful
right to that mysterious
five seconds after
my beloved finds his doom
and I follow.

It needs a smidge of edits, but it's not a bad start. It made my husband smile, and made us both tear up, which is exactly what I was going for. 

(I'm planning on continuing to share some of these poems as I go, so I guess this is a whole new blog type. ;) )

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