Saturday, April 20, 2013

on the last day of this terrible week...

... I continue to revise. I'm going to have to turn ruthless now, start removing from my thesis poems that need months of work. I need to let them sit and simmer or molt or evaporate or decompose.

(The thesis is not the book.)

I'm going to give myself a break from revision but not from poetry. I've been reading other people's poems in the past half hour or so. Lucia Perillo is a favorite. I'm excited about allowing myself to imitate her after I graduate. My program faculty and directors are fond of compression, and Perillo seems to let herself expand as each poem opens up from one stanza to the next. Or maybe I'm just full of shit and have no idea what I'm reading when I read her.

Does it matter? Nah. I feel something when I read her work.

Love this poem, for instance:

Found Object

By Lucia Perillo
Somebody left this white T-shirt
like a hangman’s hood on the new parking meter—
the magic marks upon its back say: I QUIT METH 4-EVER.
A declaration to the sky, whose angels all wear seagull wings
swooping over this street with its torn scratch tickets
and Big Gulp cups dropped by the curb.

Extra large, it has been customized
with a pocketknife or a canine tooth
to rough the armholes where my boobs wobble out
as I roam these rooms lit by twilight’s bulb,
feeling half like Bette Davis in a wheelchair
and half like that Hell’s Angels kingpin with the tracheotomy.

Dear reader, do you know that guy?
I didn’t think so. If only we could all watch the same TV.
But no doubt you have seen the gulls flying,
and also the sinister bulked-up crows
carrying white clouds of hotdog buns in their beaks:
you can promise them you’ll straighten up, but they are such big cynics.

I should have told you My lotto #’s 2-11-19-23-36
is what’s written in front, beside the silk screen
for Listerine Cool Mint PocketPaks™—
which means you can’t hijack my name;
no, you have to go find your own, like a Hopi brave.
You might have to sit in a sweat lodge until you pass out

or eat a weird vine and it will not be pleasant. Your pulse
goes staccato like a Teletype machine— then blam
you’ll be transformed into your post-larval being.
Maybe swallowtail, maybe moth: trust me, I know
because once I was a baby blue convertible
but now I’m this black hot rod painted with flames.

Love her. I was especially tickled when I read, "baby blue convertible" because I'm rather close to someone who owns a baby blue convertible.

OK. Bye now.

Friday, April 19, 2013

word list

astral projection

11:49 p.m. on a Thursday in mid-April

An old friend turned 55 today. I'm right behind her in age. I turn 55 in August, a week after I defend my thesis.

My thesis
a manuscript
of poems
book length
but the thesis
is not (yet)
the book

It has a theme, this thesis. Or several connecting themes. Classmates have helped me discover them. My professor, too. She's dear. All the professors at Ashland are dear.

MFAs are odd, though, and I'm not really ... well, I won't say that because it's not true. No, I'll say it and then contradict it. Sometimes I feel as if I'm not exactly what the program wanted. But I'm a really good student and a halfway decent poet.

When I attempted to get a master's in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia (early '80s), some of the professors actively attempted to prevent me from graduating.

Well, they didn't attempt; they succeeded. But only because I was so unsure of how smart and good I was and could be. It was my own damned fault.

This MFA program? They want us to graduate. It's good marketing.  I've been working hard and have 57 pages of poetry (maybe more if I add a poem and a section to another poem). It's not good poetry, but someday it might be. It's not so much the quality as the process that counts.

When I'm done, I won't have the hoped for (because I'm ridiculously optimistic though I pretend to be a defensive pessimist) and much needed position as an adjunct English instructor at the branch campus of Ohio University. I wrote a good letter, have a decent resume, but don't have experience teaching comp and don't yet have my degree.

There's no doubt I'll graduate. But the "job-getting" hoops are on fire, and right now, I don't have the skills to jump through them without being burned.

So, maybe by Winter term. A friend who has been in the department for at least 20 years is trying to champion my cause because he wants people like me teaching his students.

In the meantime, I'll check other places, finish the thesis, be here for my child, try not to go broke, love my family, my daughter, her father, my dear friends.

Since I didn't leave my house today, except for a solitary walk in the wonderful 80-degree weather, I didn't get to share the poem I carried in my pocket for Poem in Your Pocket Day. So, tomorrow, I WILL leave my house, and I'll bring a stack of lovely poems by other poets, and I'll scatter them around town. At Walmart and Kroger. At the library. At the wine store. In my daughter's car, at the bank....

Poetry has saved my life.

Oh, lordy this is random.

I'm keeping Boston in my heart. I'm keeping West, Texas, in my heart (worked with a lovely man from West in the '80s). Keeping a young woman I know in my heart (too young!), my siblings, my friend, my child...

Oh, this is a silly post.

But, here, just let me love you, OK? Love. LOVE.