Poem on a Sunday

Her eyes are pearl green, like a treasure

Seen through a filter of ocean froth

And the water, brimming and subsiding,

Knows how pearls are built, not born,

From endless repetitions, much the way

The heart, tidal in its attractions, rests

 

For a moment, between sets–respiration

Like inspiration, an on-again/off-again thing–

And returns to work. But my eyes, denim

And lapis-flecked, flicker in her direction

Hungrily, hopelessly. Only a fly on the wall

Sees my breath catch as she looks away.

Boston Pride 2016, Continued

So tonight I went with some friends to the vigil for Orlando held in the plaza in front of Boston City Hall, and prayed and held silence and signed the book for our brothers and sisters in Orlando, to let them know we care. I still need to process all that, and I will write about it soon, but for now, a look back to Saturday and what I spent the time doing when I wasn’t either watching the parade or dancing my ass off.

13269268_10107228797902919_1607488424777664155_n

Needle. Haystack. Backbeat.

 

One

A sea of exhausted queers, underdressed, rained on,

Milling jubilantly across the plaza. Three flags:

Stars and Stripes, Massachusetts Indian, Rainbow.

Sixty-nine reasons to salute. Save the environment.

Adopt a shelter dog. Get tested. Buy a t-shirt.

Help veterans stop our warring. Eat fried dough.

There on the steps, a woman break-dances to music

Coming from the stage, to the applause of her friends

And strangers. One onlooker, all in black leather,

Turns away. We text and call you, give up,

Then turn around, and there you are at last.

 

Two

Parking lot block party between tall brick

Buildings echoing the DJ’s words, the backbeat

So deep my bones reverberate. Broken tarmac

And puddles of Bud Lite Lime make a rough

Dance floor, but I’ve lost my friends. I looked

Away for a moment and once again I was

Alone amid a few hundred tightly packed

Tattooed women’s bodies gyrating. Buzz cut

Blue hair bump and grind. Surely salmon swimming

Upriver move to no such background music,

Though the press of bodies must be something

Like this. How then to find four particular

Fish in the struggling river? Wandering the edges

Will not suffice. Only leaping into center stream,

Zenlike, gets it done. I abandon my goal,

My isolation, and finally find what I seek.

 

Three

Black light disco ball and all the young men

Packed wall to wall and taller than all

My lost friends: I am tired of losing them.

Even more than the vibrating drums and lights

Is the slight pall of sticky spilled drinks

On the floor. All these men so intent on

Scoring block my view as the lights

Scramble my attention. Trying to make out

Lyrics, like making out faces, is too much

Of a chore. Some searches are just doomed

From the start. At least I can still find the door.

 

Photo by Paula M. Grez.

Lesbian Dodgeball #41

large

So a friend asked me to write about last night’s lesbian dodgeball game. There weren’t as many people there as usual, 12 rather than 18 or 24, so we were all playing all the time, up until close to the end when a regular showed up 1) late and 2) with a change of music to allow us to stop playing the game to the rather insipid and repetitive music the radio stations were playing that night. Real disco and old 70s ballads redone with a mean backbeat make for a Much Improved Dodgeball Score. Most Valuable Player of the Week: Sarah.

I have been trying to figure out a good metaphor for this strange game. It’s not like basketball or hockey or even soccer, especially the way we play it. So here is what I came up with.

 

Jaguars going for the kill.

Monkeys leaping out of three balls’ trajectories at once.

Sweaty women dancing to disco music.

 

The woman who gathers all of the six red balls and looks

Like a very aggressive tomato salad.

The women backing warily away, hoping not to get hit

When the tomato salad explodes in their direction.

The athlete. The wise-ass. The mom.

 

The crash as the ball hits the padded wall.

The louder crash as the ball hits the window.

The strength of the window, not breaking.

 

 

(Image from Google Images.)

Rilke Was Right

20160309040449_file_56e049a200219

From 1903 to 1908, the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke carried on a correspondence with a young poet who wrote to him asking for advice, and long after, his letters were gathered into a book, appropriately enough titled Letters to a Young Poet. I feel a bit like that young man, putting feelers out into the world to say, “How do I do this thing? Am I doing this right? How will I know?” And I would like to thank my readers who have entered the conversation with me.

As Rilke said, “We would easily be made to believe that nothing has happened, and yet we have changed, as a house changes into which a guest has entered…. [M]any signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens” (55). I think this is true, and probably one of the reasons that some changes or discoveries that we make about ourselves end up having either a ring of inevitability or a “D’oh! How could I not have seen that?” to them. Of course I couldn’t see it. You live into your answers very gradually.

So the two things I think I have been attempting to do with this blog is 1) articulate the questions I am learning how to live into, seeking clarity from the articulation on the one hand and feedback from others’ experiences on the other, and 2) make some poetry that can turn the feelings into art, for myself, for the world. Again, Rilke says, “A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity” (20). So a lot of questions and a little bit of art here and there, hopefully good.

A small bouquet that I can share with you.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet. Trans. M.D. Herter Norton. New York: Norton, 1962.

Poem Thing

Bus-stop-wet-day-shes-there-I-say-Chicago-2013-Copy

Late to the Party, I Join the Host

 

People who say that there is no such thing as bad weather,

Only in adequate clothes, have never spent half an hour,

With a bladder full of tea and a heart full of hope

At a bus stop in an unfamiliar town as the sun sets and rain begins.

Those who say “Go with the flow” have not considered

Such situations, where “flow” is not particularly desirable.

 

Sometimes getting there is half the battle, whether

You measure this run-in with public transportation

Or your whole life leading up to this: school and gym,

Band practice, college days spent studying in the sun,

The first job, hiking in the Alps, more school,

The teachers who changed your life for good or ill,

 

Bad dates, good dinners, and all the nights up to that

Moment when the cat patted your face to wake you and

You rose, a different person than you had been

The day before, the decade before, all of it leading you

Here to this wet bus stop trying to get across this

Town (in the correct direction this time) to find the party.

What to Do Once You Get Her Number

  1. Grin to yourself. Outwardly, remain cool. Slip her card into your card case as if this feat of dating dexterity is something you do every week rather than once or twice a decade.
  2. Imagine calling her. Panic. Realize that you have nothing to say that could be considered witty or interesting or remotely intelligent or even grammatically English.
  3. Keep it tucked away safe. Take it out now and then to look at it. Repeat #2.
  4. Google her. Tell yourself this is not stalker behavior. Clear your browser. Distract yourself with work.
  5. Write five poems that no one within forty miles of your closet could tell were in any way gay. Post one on your blog. Repeat #4.
  6. Check out her photography portfolio online. Wonder why the single photo of her doesn’t show the glow you see when you look at her in person. Repeat #5.
  7. Write a poem that is, face it, just a little bit gay. Wait for the glitter to fall on your head.
  8.  Repeat #2-7. Keep waiting.

Dream Architecture

images

There are many architectural spaces inside my head that frequently come out in my dreams, especially libraries, bookstores, antique stores, museums and opera stages (why opera, which I don’t care for rather than Broadway musicals, which I love, I have no idea). I tend to assume that the Dream Chipmunks in my head are busy all night in the File Room of My Mind, frantically trying to file away the day’s events, conversations, thoughts, daydreams and all the other flotsam and jetsam of my life.

So I went into an online Dream Interpretation Dictionary and looked some of these things up. Most of them are not rocket science. Libraries symbolize knowledge, museums and antiques the things you value. “To watch an opera in your dream represents your quest for the grander things in life…”—okay, this part I totally buy, but this part? “…The dream may also be trying to tell you that you are being overly dramatic in some waking situation” (“Opera”), I really don’t. Further, it says, “To dream that you are watching a musical indicates that you need to be careful not to get carried away by your emotions” (“Musical”).

Now it may just be me, but it seems like the writers here have a bias against musicals. And why would being dramatic or getting “carried away” with your emotions be a bad thing anyway? This interpretation strikes me as being written by a straight WASP male of the old school (i.e., the medieval one that didn’t have women in it). Maybe the opera/musical imagery is telling me that I need to be more dramatic and more emotional. I am an introvert, after all, who has dealt with depression, and having and identifying my emotions has long been difficult for me. Maybe my dreams are telling me to embrace my inner Leo. There might also be glitter involved…

Wicked-the-musical-millionaires-concierge

I have been having these kinds of spaces show up in my dreams more often than usual over the last week or so, and maybe that is a result of all this introspection I’ve been doing. Normally, I would expect more teaching anxiety dreams or overflowing toilet dreams, or the even more normal ones where completely random and meaningless things happen (I suspect in part because chipmunk hands aren’t really made for holding onto paper and they often drop things on the floor and then misfile them in their hurry to finish the job before I wake up and go to work).

I suppose what this suggests is that, as useful as such resources are, they are going to share the cultural biases of their makers. In the end, my own intuition about what a symbol means is probably going to be much more useful to me than anything somebody else comes up with.