Friday, January 21, 2011

From the Vault I

I don't remember when I discovered poetry - both reading and writing it.

Surely I was exposed to it long before I'd developed a taste for it in high school. Of that exposure though, I have no recollection. And yet, I have no memory of living without it or any sense of a delineation between pre- and post-poetry life.

While I distinctly recall having written a few verses prior, I do believe my awareness broadened significantly when Brad and I became close back in 1988...because of this poem he shared with me so many years ago (I can picture the day, lying on his bed, the sun was shining, his bedroom walls were blue):

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us--don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know. 

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

                - Emily Dickinson

With that first stanza, dawning realization encompassed me. Poetry was not some esoteric "foreign" language to be endured. Poetry could and would resonate with me. Sometimes for years. I began to understand that, just because a poem is "good" or "brilliant", doesn't mean I must like it...have it punch me in the gut, envelope me in warmth, give me courage, feel less alone.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anne Sexton, Charles Baudelaire, Allen Ginsberg, Gwendolyn Brooks and many others...they all sang to me, comforted me. I fell in love with them and their art form. Occasionally, if I listen carefully, I can hear "their" voices speaking to me...from memory.

When I discovered Walt Whitman's Song of Myself in college though, my whole heart was won. I could speak for hours about it, quote lines from it, point out the parts that have me quivering, weeping, sighing, rejoicing, shaking my fist to the sky...

But I won't. Uncle Walt deserves a post (or several) all to himself.

Instead, I shall torment you with something I wrote myself. Have no illusions. It's terrible, terrible stuff. I've never claimed to be a good poet. Rather, with the From the Vault series, I bring to light writing I've done in my "early days" (by early I could mean yesterday) - writing that quite possibly should never see the light of day - as an exercise in both humility and exposure.

Background on the following poem. 1992. I'd recently walked in on my first serious boyfriend having sex with a my bed. We were living together, so it wasn't creepy or anything, but it was terribly hurtful - after having endured many a painful circumstance. I subsequently (FINALLY!) ended the relationship and, in effect, kicked him out (establishing a pattern *sigh*). As he was leaving he said, "You are nothing without me." My response? "I'd rather be nothing without you than to let you continue to hurt me." It was my very first moment of conscious empowerment. Significant turning point, if I do say so myself.

I can't explain
Raging emotions
     putting angry
        into my head
spewing forth
          landing on
                            (to you)
My feelings

          into tiny shards
ground to dust
          beneath the heels
     sheathed in Jesus
Mold me as such
                   your model of disgust
chewing my soul
     as you would
        at your gums.
            Do what
Destroy me(?)
                  if you can.

     will live
     a Better life

Sweet revenge posting this on the internet *laugh*.

I don't remember the point of the spacing. That's how it was written and how it shall remain.

1 comment:

Teresa said...

I think the term "DWEEB" suits him well.