A marriage poem for abundance (mine).

Abundance

for Scott & Josh

 

There will be days of singing & days of silent throats

There will be days of bouquets & days of empty vases

There will be days of thirst & nights of drinking

There will be raspberry days & days of stale crusts of bread

There will be days of nails in the wall & artless days

There will be harvest days & long nights of winter

There will days to gather & days to await the gathering

May the thin days make the days of fullness all the sweeter

May your fruits be many and your backs be strong

as you launch together

into your days

of abundance

 

July 5, 2014

 

scott and josh first step

(photo of the couple’s first steps toward marriage by Misha M. Johnson)

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Comedy & college & Sam Cooke & be your own fairy godmother (Amy Schumer).

Amy Schumer is a comedian. I value comedy; making people laugh seems to me a useful and smooth way to move through the world. Humor helps me get to know people, become closer to people, tell people the truth, show people how much I love them, and so on. My dream thirtieth birthday party would be all my friends at a long wooden table, each standing up on by one to tell a story where they make fun of me. When someone makes fun of you the right way, you know it’s because they love you. But here I am at love (again), when the speech below is not so much about love, well, maybe it is, maybe it’s about loving yourself enough to get the fuck out of bad situations. It’s Amy Schumer’s speech from The Gloria Awards and Gala (no idea what this is) and I value it. Enjoy. (Source.)

 

Here I go, and if it doesn’t go well, please just don’t blog about it.

Right before I left for college, I was running my high school. Feel it. I knew where to park, I knew where to get the best chicken-cutlet sandwich, I knew which custodians had pot. People knew me. They liked me. I was an athlete and a good friend. I felt pretty, I felt funny, I felt sane. Then I got to college in Maryland. My school was voted number one … for the hottest freshman girls in Playboy that year. And not because of me. All of a sudden, being witty and charismatic didn’t mean shit. Day after day, I could feel the confidence drain from my body. I was not what these guys wanted. They wanted thinner, blonder, dumber … My sassy one-liners were only working on the cafeteria employees, who I was visiting all too frequently, tacking on not the Freshman 15, but the 30, in record-breaking time, which led my mother to make comments over winter break like, “You look healthy!” I was getting no male attention, and I’m embarrassed to say, it was killing me.

But one guy paid me some attention — Matt. Matt was six feet tall, he looked like a grown-up von Trapp child, and he was five years older than me. What?! An older boy, paying attention to me? I must be okay. Uff. I made him laugh in our bio lab, and I could tell a couple times that we had a vibe. He was a super senior, which is a sexy way of saying “should have graduated, but needed an extra year.” He barely spoke, which was perfect for all the projecting I had planned for him. We grew up in the same town, and getting attention from him felt like success. When I would see him on campus, my heart would race, and I would smile as he passed. I’d look in the mirror and see all the blood rise to my face. I’d spend time analyzing the interaction, and planning my outfit for the next time I saw him. I wanted him to call. He never called. But then finally, he called.

It was 8 a.m., my dorm room phone rang. “Amy, wassup? It’s Matt. Come over.” Holy shit! This is it, I thought. He woke up thinking about me! He realized we’re meant to start a life together! Let’s just stop all this pretending that we weren’t free just to love one another! I wondered, would we raise our kids in the town we both grew up in, or has he taken a liking to Baltimore? I don’t care. I’ll settle wherever he’s most comfortable. Will he want to raise our kids Jewish? Who cares? I shaved my legs in the sink, I splashed some water under my armpits, and my randomly assigned Albanian roommate stared at me from under her sheets as I rushed around our shitty dorm room. I ran right over to his place, ready for our day together. What would we do? It’s still early enough, maybe we’re going fishing? Or maybe his mom’s in town, and he wanted me to join them for breakfast. Knock-knock. Is he going to carry me over the threshold? I bet he’s fixing his hair and telling his mom, “Be cool, this may be the one!” I’ll be very sweet with her, but assert myself, so she doesn’t think she’s completely in charge of all the holiday dinners we’re going to plan together. I’ll call her by her first name, too, so she knows she can’t mess with me. “Rita! I’m going to make the green bean casserole this year, and that’s that!” Knock-knock. Ring ring. Where is he?

Finally, the door opens. It’s Matt, but not really. He’s there, but not really. His face is kind of distorted, and his eyes seem like he can’t focus on me. He’s actually trying to see me from the side, like a shark. “Hey!” he yells, too loud, and gives me a hug, too hard. He’s fucking wasted. I’m not the first person he thought of that morning. I’m the last person he called that night. I wonder, how many girls didn’t answer before he got to fat freshman me? Am I in his phone as Schumer? Probably. But I was here, and I wanted to be held and touched and felt desired, despite everything. I wanted to be with him. I imagined us on campus together, holding hands, proving, “Look! I am lovable! And this cool older guy likes me!” I can’t be the troll doll I’m afraid I’ve become.

He put on some music, and we got in bed. As that sexy maneuver where the guy pushes you on the bed, you know, like, “I’m taking the wheel on this one. Now I’m going to blow your mind,” which is almost never followed up with anything. He smelled like skunk microwaved with cheeseburgers, which I planned on finding and eating in the bathroom, as soon as he was asleep. We tried kissing. His 9 a.m. shadow was scratching my face — I knew it’d look like I had fruit-punch mouth for days after. His alcohol-swollen mouth, I felt like I was being tongued by someone who had just been given Novocain. I felt faceless, and nameless. I was just a warm body, and I was freezing cold. His fingers poked inside me like they had lost their keys in there. And then came the sex, and I use that word very loosely. His penis was so soft, it felt like one of those de-stress things that slips from your hand? So he was pushing aggressively into my thigh, and during this failed penetration, I looked around the room to try and distract myself or God willing, disassociate. What’s on the wall? A Scarface poster, of course. Mandatory. Anything else? That’s it? This Irish-Catholic son of bank teller who played JV soccer and did Mathletes feels the most connection with a Cuban refugee drug lord. The place looked like it was decorated by an overeager set designer who took the note “temporary and without substance” too far.

He started to go down on me. That’s ambitious, I think. Is it still considered getting head if the guy falls asleep every three seconds and moves his tongue like an elderly person eating their last oatmeal? Chelsea? Is it? Yes? It is. I want to scream for myself, “Get out of here, Amy. You are beautiful, you are smart, and worth more than this. This is not where you stay.” I feel like Fantine and Cosette and every fucking sad French woman from Les Miz. And whoever that cat was who sang “Memories,” what was that musical? Suze Orman just goes, “Cats.” The only wetness between my legs is from his drool, because he’s now sleeping and snoring into me. I sigh, I hear my own heartbreak, I fight back my own tears, and then I notice a change in the music. Is this just a bagpipe solo? I shake him awake. “Matt, what is this? The Braveheartsoundtrack? Can you put something else on, please?” He wakes up grumpily, falls to the floor, and crawls. I look at his exposed butt crack, a dark, unkempt abyss that I was falling into. I felt paralyzed. His asshole is a canyon, and this was my 127 Hours. I might chew my arm off.

I could feel I was losing myself to this girl in this bed. He stood up and put a new CD on. “Darling, you send me, I know you send me, honest, you do …” I’m thinking, “What is this?” He crawled back into bed, and tried to mash at this point his third ball into my vagina. On his fourth thrust, he gave up and fell asleep on my breast. His head was heavy and his breath was so sour, I had to turn my head so my eyes didn’t water. But they were watering anyway, because of this song. Who is this? This is so beautiful. I’ve never heard these songs before. They’re gutting me. The score attached to our morning couldn’t have been more off. His sloppy, tentative lovemaking was certainly not in the spirit of William Wallace. And now the most beautiful love songs I’ve ever heard play out as this man-boy laid in my arms, after diminishing me to a last-minute booty call. I listened to the songs and I cried. I was looking down at myself from the ceiling fan. What happened to this girl? How did she get here? I felt the fan on my skin and I went, “Oh, wait! I am this girl! We got to get me out of here!” I became my own fairy godmother. I waited until the last perfect note floated out, and escaped from under him and out the door. I never heard from Matt again, but felt only grateful for being introduced to my new self, a girl who got her value from within her. I’m also grateful to Matt for introducing me to my love Sam Cooke, who I’m still with today.

Now I feel strong and beautiful. I walk proudly down the streets of Manhattan. The people I love, love me. I make the funniest people in the country laugh, and they are my friends. I am a great friend and an even better sister. I have fought my way through harsh criticism and death threats for speaking my mind. I am alive, like the strong women in this room before me. I am a hot-blooded fighter and I am fearless. But I did morning radio last week, and a DJ asked, “Have you gained weight? You seem chunkier to me. You should strike while the iron is hot, Amy.” And it’s all gone. In an instant, it’s all stripped away. I wrote an article forMen’s Health and was so proud, until I saw instead of using my photo, they used one of a 16-year-old model wearing a clown nose, to show that she’s hilarious. But those are my words. What about who I am, and what I have to say? I can be reduced to that lost college freshman so quickly sometimes, I want to quit. Not performing, but being a woman altogether. I want to throw my hands in the air, after reading a mean Twitter comment, and say, “All right! You got it. You figured me out. I’m not pretty. I’m not thin. I do not deserve to use my voice. I’ll start wearing a burqa and start waiting tables at a pancake house. All my self-worth is based on what you can see.” But then I think, Fuck that. I am not laying in that freshman year bed anymore ever again. I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fuck and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they had it in them to do it. I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you.

“My Life as a Minister” (wedding poem) (mine).

My Life as a Minister

(for Kathryn & Andy)

 

To say “You may now kiss the bride”

is a treasure far beyond

most treasures I’ve known.

A treasure of love (my bests,

 

my only kind of treasures),

a treasure built of words (my tools),

a treasure said in public

in the presence of a trove

 

of dearest friends—

a treasure known by all, the words

learned early on, the script, that scripture,

holy words of matrimony, most of which

 

I banished from the ceremony. But not

those words, and not the kiss

which with light within me

I gave permission for.

 

You may now and you may always

and may you for all the days

kiss and kiss and kiss

the bride.

***

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Poetry Awesomes of the New Year Thus Far (list).

Poetry Awesomes of the New Year Thus Far

a short list from a short poet

1. As I’ve mentioned before, Cassandra Gillig, who I want to be friends with (HELLO CASSANDRA DO YOU WANT TO BE FRIENDS I AM A REALLY GOOD PEN PAL), has smushed hip hop with poets reading their poems, and now you can download her album of these so-called “mash-ups” for FREE, right here. Just enter in the number zero when it asks how much you want to donate. And then you’ll have a file on your computer called “put me in charge of poetry magazine and i will fuck this country up.” Which is awesome.

 

2. womenpoetswearingsweatpants.tumblr.com is a total inspiration. Why? Well, the poems on the site have been submitted, with photos, by the ladypoets themselves. They are then turned into meme-looking things, with that shadowed font that meme-makers always use (who ARE you, meme makers?!). The photos are often selfies, and they often seem to be taken specifically in order to submit to this site (just a guess), and they are often of cozy poetlady feet. I like how comfy everyone is, how unpretty and normal looking. Most poems are probably written while wearing clothes you wouldn’t want your neighbor to see you in, and this blog seems to be a way of announcing that, embracing it, liking it.

I submitted to this blog and had the nearly-instant satisfaction of getting accepted, and of seeing a piece of a poem of mine in the world, in that font, over what is probably one of the least attractive photos taken of me, EVER. I am so glad that I’ve finally found a use for this photo, which has always made me laugh so hard (and Misha too) (he took it). It’s taken on Farnsworth Street in New London, Connecticut, sometime in the fall of 2008. In it, I am being both totally tired, and totally “what what!” It’s my hand that’s doing the “what what” and my body that’s doing the tired.

 

3. Poems on Facebook is happening, at least in my world, and you should get in on it. You post a poem, tell people to “like” it, then you assign each of the “likers” a poet to post on their own pages, with a similar message explaining the whole shebang. I love this because it’s like a chain letter, except 1) it’s not annoying 2) it’s spreading poems in a place where not many poems show up 3) it doesn’t involve me having to write down a recipe or buy stickers to send to someone I have never met. I especially like this because anyone can “like” the post, and therefore anyone, poet or non, can go on to post poems. It’s not exclusive to “poets.” I really really “LIKE” this.

 

4. The Ashbery Home School was just invented, & holy moly, I want to go to there. The coolest part is it’s held at JOHN ASHBERY’S ACTUAL HOME. With all his artstuffs and thingies in it. And it’s in Hudson, NY, the town that shows up somewhere new in my life like, once a week. Unfortunately, this program, a week-long writers’ retreat in August with awesome professors, field trips, movie screenings and workshops, costs money that I can’t spend on something like “retreating.” Especially since I live in what many would call “a retreat place.”

But this concept, of holding school at someone famous’ home, acknowledges the domestic space as pivotal to the artist. Which may not be true for all artists, but is very true for me. If you come to my house you will see treasures lined up in rows on almost all surfaces. I am always ordering things, collecting things, giving them away, altering them, altar-ing them. This is a part of how I am always creating. If I had money to spare I would apply to this brand-new retreat, which costs $1175. If you can afford it, you should go.

 

5. Lists seem to always have five or ten or one hundred things on them, so I’m feeling a little pressure to fill something in here….but I really don’t have any other poemy things to blog about…so please make something else poem-awesome and email it to me at taylormkatz@gmail.com! For the sake of the list!

 

I paid $8 for this poem (and I don’t regret it) (Ben Aleshire).

Sometimes you’re in New Orleans for a bachelorette weekend with your favorite ladies and you meet a Vermont poet with a typewriter on the street and you ask for a poem please and he writes you one and you like it a lot and you pay him $8 which seems like a lot to you but seems like a little to him since he just had a woman hand him two crisp twenties for her poem. And maybe if this happens to you you feel a little bit like the world is helping you out, throwing you a bone, or in this case, a Ben.

 

Fruit

 

Clementine, you say,

already tasting it.

Apricot, and the word is caught

on your tongue (lone muscle

of both language & hunger) (the word

itself you peel and undress).

In the night you wake,

find yourself in an orchard –

don’t you        don’t you

You cannot sleep for the sound

of apples falling all around you,

words heavy on the branch.

Even trees let go their fruit.

Nothing weighs more

than a burden refused (say the apples

touching each other in the grass)

 

***

 

 

This is the best thing on the internet (POETRY + HIP HOP).

The internet is too big to talk about as a whole, but on the whole I’ll generalize and say that my favorite thing about the internet is….this.

So now that you clicked on that link, click the little play button, and now you’ll be listening to Frank O’Hara (THE MAN MY LEGEND) reading his poem “Ode to Joy” over an instrumental version of Drake’s “The Best I Ever Had.”

I already love Drake because he is a pretty good rapper and once made a video that took place at a bar mitzvah (combining Judaism and hip hop, which rarely happens). I’ve loved Frank O’Hara for always & always will, even though he is very easy to love and everyone seems to. I think I still love him differently. His little lispy-crispy pronunciation. His gap tooth. His neck in a crew neck sweater in the postcard that lives in my truck. I do love him. And now thanks to the internet, (well, thanks to Cassanda Gillig, whom I would like to meet because he seems hilarious and cool and smart and essential), I can have poetry & hip hop fused in just the way I never knew I’d love because I hadn’t fathomed it yet.

And there’s more. There’s Brautigan & Mariah Carey! Even better THERE IS JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE AND ALICE NOTLEY. I am going bonkers right now. You know when you find something that you like so much you can’t handle it? And you think about how good life was before and how now it’s one significant notch better? And you feel like your posture has gotten better and that there’s more space between your toes so you can stand and jump and dance better? Do you guys know what I’m talking about?

 

 

Love & violence & beauty in The New Yorker (poem) (Jericho Brown).

How many amazing poets have you met? How many people have you met that have hypnotized you–literally hypnotized, the world swimming away–by reading one of their poems? Jericho Brown is an amazing poet and a skilled teacher and also an elegant creature. I took some workshops with him, and he came to a birthday party of mine once, and I wrote him a poem about his favorite color, orange, after he came to speak in one of my classes. I hope he liked it. He was in the New Yorker recently, and that, my friends, is a victory. For The New Yorker. And for all of us who know him. And for all of us who get to read The New Yorker because our mothers-in-laws give us their finished issues. The end.

 

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