A day in the life (a poem).

June 30, 2015

I am living in Vermont
I am living in my head
My twenties ending like a delicious
episodic television binge
where plotlines are vague & details ecstatic

America my country has legalized marriage
the week after I legalized my own
In a month I will legalize
the love between two people
overlooking a lake in Virginia

My hands & feet are dirty
Be not mistaken I’m nobody’s heroine
Not brave enough & only medium-fast
But have you seen my garlic patch
But have you watched me sleep for hours

Godlier & godlier I’ll travel forth
The sun when it’s out, the moon when it’s round
surround me & cram me
into the single sweet envelope
called my life

Sprung (poem) (mine).

The lilacs will be here any minute

Forsythia is happening and so is coltsfoot on the roadsides

Daffodils are happening and little blue flowers I don’t know yet

Breakfast & dinner outside is happening

as the roosters chase each other inside their fencing

Grass is greening fast with full moon energy

The tomato starts are waving at the brassicas in the porch breeze

It is time for a hat with a brim that goes all the way around

It’s time for dandelions for dinner & ramps for lunch

The violets just showed their shy purple faces yesterday before the rain

The marsh marigolds are practically everywhere

Spring is touching us all with the a wand invisible & bright

fairfield porter

“Schwenk” by Fairfield Porter, 1959.

We Are Older; We Float, We Sink, We Sleep When We Can (poem) (mine).

We Are Older; We Float, We Sink, We Sleep When We Can

I’m nearly thirty and capable of commanding my body
inside a vehicle. The car and I, we go places together.

I drive south and then west, four hours plus one coffee
stop, to see Scott and his brand new baby. We meet

at a French cafe with “vintage gas station” as its theme.
The baby is strapped away against his chest, silent

and unseeable. We drink white wine and eat Frenchly
-titled meals by the window. Scott covers the baby’s head

with a napkin while he eats, which I both notice
and don’t notice. He is exhausted & he is a father

& I’m so proud of him. He looks natural with a baby.
He looks like someone related to me. Maybe this is why

I love him, or maybe it’s his excellent taste
in wall clocks, or the sandy fields & shifting days

we survived together in laughter. His husband is away
that day, working in the city. When he arrives home,

his face is nearly yellow from exhaustion. I want to feed
them both: applesauce, keffir lime leaves, matzoh ball soup.

At Scott’s birthday dinner party the next evening, there is wine,
deeply chocolate cake, and lentil soup with a pad of floating butter

on top like the raft we each contain inside us, each of us
the fat, the proteins, the flavor, the impending melt.

Do You Know Where to Look (Do You Know How)

If you slide your fingers down the slender stem
of bluebells

like a man searching the body of a woman
for signs of yes,

you will find your palm filled
with tiny flowers composed

of intricate beauty
You will find your palm

has become a bowl of soundless
fragrance

You will find faces
made of petals

& you may even find
something of yourself.

 

bluebells

 

 

Patti Smith Month: An Introduction

What Is Patti Smith Month?

An answer I made up about a thing I made up

unnamed

I loathe when people complain about the weather. It’s like complaining about being in a body. Being in a body is 1) the only choice we all have, and 2) essentially a miracle. I’m bored by easy negativity because it’s not creating anything. It simply laments what IS.

Weather is the main way that nature touches us. Even if you live in a city, the weather affects you. One of my favorite things about living in the country is how big of a character the weather is in my life, in the lives of all my friends and neighbors. It’s something we all share, and yet it affects us differently—where Justin’s snowdrifts pile up is different from where mine do, but both of us have blocked windows.

That being said, February is not an easy time to be alive in the northern hemisphere. It’s cold, it can be dark for days. Which is why, two years ago, I created something called Patti Smith Month. It started when I decided to reread her book “Just Kids,” because my friend Scott had gone to the St Mark’s bookstore in search of it (we had recently seen Patti Smith do a reading there in frigidicecold winter). When he got to the bookstore, he couldn’t find it anywhere. He wanted to buy it because I’d told him how much I love it, and because we both loved the way Patti Smith looked at her reading, with her boyish body and her black beanie. We both loved what she said.

He finally asked a clerk at the front of the bookstore where he could find “Just Kids.” In my head, she looked at him like he was an Effing Idiot (because this is how clerks look at you because you ARE one and also they’re tired) (I’ve been there), and said “Her books are all in the back, next to her.”

Patti Smith was in the store at that very moment signing books. Instead of buying the book for himself, he bought me a copy, which he had her inscribe. This is one of my most prized possessions.

As I read this book two years ago, it lit all those little flames inside of me. Some of those flames have to do with being an artist, which has practically become a dirty word these days. Some of those flames have to do with the talismanic powers that we all have to instill our lives with meaning. Some of those flames have to do with wearing menswear and necklaces. Suffice to say: that book is a world I need.

And so I decided that every February, I would re-read it. That’s the beginning. That’s the kindling. Because when I reread it, I relive and remember my own dedication to art-making. I am reminded. I am refreshed. I refurbish my altars and don my Patti Smith shirt, the only shirt with a face on it I’d ever wear. I drink tea in the dark nighttime house and tear up pages of notebooks with words. Sometimes I commit to writing more letters, or revising a long piece, or improving the art on my wall.

This year, I will write a poem every day for the month of February. I will write a letter to a new penpal in the hopes that she wants to write back. I am in the process of beginning an exciting new literary project with a friend of mine, so that will come to fruition, too. I don’t know what else will happen. Patti Smith Month is about saying, I am a maker. And: there is no time but the present.

I believe Patti Smith Month is one of my best ideas. Not only because what it inspires, but because in making February a special month for myself, I have improved my own life. Patti Smith Month is the opposite of complaining about Feburary. It means I look forward to February and the way I’ll spend the month leaning in to the artistry inside me. Remember how environmentalists sometimes tell you that you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem? I disagree. You are both the problem and the solution. So even if Patti Smith Month isn’t what will make your own personal February awesome, find out what will. Then buy yourself a t-shirt and get to work.

Poem of things I’m not doing (mine).

Rhyming Things I Am Never Doing With My Friends

 

Drinking cherry schnapps

in bikini tops

 

Picking out the best pajamas

beside a pair of just-married llamas

 

Waving atop a zamboni

as I eat a sandwich of cheese & baloney

 

Partaking in a teen movie montage

while gluing an aspirational collage

 

Eating a spoonful of mustard

as I slather my thighs with custard

 

“Summer Simmer” (summertime flowertime poem) (mine).

Summer Simmer

 

Soil air sky breeze

available now

no lease no

contract all

yours & always

open free &

more where

that came from

Jeez you’d think

we’d be cherishing

all this so hard

by now (picture

it: generations

of women

& men in love

with earth)

but no

we are shitting

on it more

than ever &

convinced of

the truth

of machines

You know

what I think

technology is

mostly harmful

also ugly &

expensive unlike

these patches of

black-eyed Susans

dancing from the base

of their stalks up

to the petals

in the fields

all around me

 

“You Make Love Like the Last Snow Leopard” (poem) (Paige Taggart).

You Make Love Like the Last Snow Leopard

You make love like the last
snow leopard. Time hunts your shadows.
Your grooves dip a real x of an arc.
I love your shadow. It’s performance on the wall.

Your white hair flocked. It’s old age that makes
you kill for food. You bring a long blank to
bed in, the weight draws out.

You need someone with skill for the excursion.
Ride through the reservoir of sour peaches.
Your name meanders through the grass. Tall
people are in the way. I crowd surf to get to you.

You spill me into the flood. Water rushes out your sides.

You make a mystery of playing political love.
I could kill for you. I’d bring you an eagle stuffed
with finches. It’s pouch growing large and groaning
in your palm. A cliff of umbrellas and memory
shaping your every move.

 

-Paige Taggart

 

***

PS: If you buy her book, let me know, so we can talk about it, because I want to buy it, too. And I will definitely want to talk about it.

PPS: August is my marathon month. For most of the month, my poems will likely sound like

 

I’m tired

and so are my legs

and I’m thirsty

and maybe my legs are thirsty too

Either way

I want to go to sleep

 

 

…and so I will probably be posting other people’s poems this month. But then again, who knows–maybe the tired poems will cross over into the psychedelic side of things, and become really awesome. I am very open to that possibility.