writing about a Laura Kasischke poem today for one of my "critical papers." Writing about "Fatima," which is a poem I love so much I dreamed it last night. I almost could have written the poem (and i can be self-deprecating here where I'm not in class (which is just a discussion board) and won't annoy anyone but you, and you don't read, really, so it's all right) except that I don't yet have her skill.
Every time I read this poem, I crawl inside it like I'm crawling into the back seat of a car that a friend is driving. I'm going on a journey with a bunch of drunk girlfriends. Have I ever been on a journey with drunk girlfriends? Kind of. I've been to plenty of seedy carnivals, and I have carnie stories to tell, but none of these stories is as interesting as Kasischke's story, and I know this isn't true because what seems uninteresting to me about my life might seem quirky and astounding to someone else, especially if I write it well.
She writes it well.
She twists me around throughout the poem, starts with what seems like a theological statement, "God exists," and then completely leaves the church and enters the "festival of mud." Which could be a ritual of mud, a liturgy of mud (I know I'm rather fond of the word "liturgy"; it seems to be one of the things that keeps me grounded even though I don't go to church).
"Instead/we are a group of teenage girls, drunk/at one of those awful/carnivals in a field..."
Instead of staying home and thinking about the fact that God exists, the girls decide to get drunk and live recklessly in the rain. I know something awful might happen because the poet tells me something awful might happen. It's an "awful" carnival. I have been to plenty of awful carnivals. I've had toothless ride operators flirt with me and tell me they like my hair while I'm standing there with my 3 year old. I've had cute, smoke saturated game hawkers propose marriage to me while I'm surrounded by a group of friends. Why? I don't know. It doesn't really matter. It's the scene that matters. It's what could happen in the scene almost more than what does happen in the scene.
I will steal the above for the essay and continue writing on it, at least until noon when I'm tired of it and just need to let it go. At 4:30 p.m., my professor will call, and we will talk about my third packet of poems. I just read through it for the first time since I sent it last Wednesday. It's not as dreadful as I thought, and I think that if I can get myself to avoid being frozen or distracted or fucking lazy, I'll be able to take what I've done and make it all into work that would be thesis-worthy.
I like this idea of a poem being "thesis-worthy." The thesis will be a collection of my best.
It's still only March, and we have weeks left of class, but I feel it winding toward an ending. I am looking toward those two and a half months in the summer when I will add to my stash of poems. So many poems. I'm proud of myself for writing so much, for continuing to write even when I feel like I'm failing. When one is a poet, failing doesn't seem to matter in the process. I write anyway because I have to write.
I am damned tired though I went to bed before 1 a.m., took a nap yesterday afternoon, even slept for a bit this morning after my daughter went to school. So much stress in our lives right now. It's not huge, ugly stress, just ordinary stress, the kind that builds up until little things like getting lost in a city we're trying to leave makes me cry in front of my 17-year-old daughter.
I fear I've turned her more neurotic than she might have been if I'd been a "stiff upper lip" sort of person.
But I decided many years ago to be who and what I am even if who and what i am is sometimes a neurotic, self-deprecating asshole.