Poet For Hire

My cousin encountered this amazing human in “New Orleans – French Quarter Royal St June 24” (per camera location notes) and sent me a text joking, “Shawna, I found you a husband.”  The best part of this being that she might be the only one in our family who’d encounter someone like this and immediately think of me or identify what would seem like my “kind.”  Strangely, while easily befriending artists and photographers, I rarely seem to attract other writers.

How brave is this guy.  And not because… is that an ice chest full of beer in the street?

Je me demande s’il parle français.

 

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“tell me what you want.”  I want to see more people in the world like you.  I want to know more people like you.  I want more people in this culture to appreciate and admire and respect people like you.

I want to see more poets out of the closet, taking poetry beyond the university, in the street or anywhere interacting with the wider world.

 

 

 

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In the Yard of a Stranger

I pull my ankles up to sit cross-legged on a pale yellow cushion in the wrought iron chair with the sea-green tint over grey on the patio.   I know magic because I have been here before.  I have been deep in magic and go there now.  I sit in the warm spring sun and forget about my cup of coffee on the little round green table.   A bee circling below my feet crawls across the cement beneath the chair.  I know it’s there but don’t look.  I sit in the center of the warm cement slabs on the pale yellow cushion in the iron chair with the sea-green tint over grey surrounded by trees and large leafy plants in the yard scattered with white and yellow and pinkish red flowers against the fence.

Time goes away when I close my eyes and listen.  I listen to everything at once.  Not one at a time, all at once taking effort at first.  I listen to the outside, to the many varieties of bird calls, to the dog after a squirrel, to the wind, the traffic, the voices of passerby and neighbors, to a distant siren, to my friend saying something inside the house, I listen to this chorus and allow myself to drop into it.  I listen until finally I almost completely stop hearing.  I no longer hear all the different bird calls because now I feel them instead.  Feel them all around me and inside myself, feel them in my being, feel the boundaries of my body melt.  Until one sound begins to stands out.  The sound of one bird’s call vibrating deep within in my system like a drum, this call sounds like a blue light.

I don’t think about my lost friend, don’t think about my lover, don’t think about the tears I cried for an entire year, and the years before, don’t think about writing, about work, about pressure.  I don’t think about them but they are all still here.  I just feel all of them and feel calm with them.  I could stay here much longer in this chair and listen with my whole body.  I let my mind travel somewhere else inside myself.  So far beyond my thoughts and feelings I can no longer move.  My body shuts off.  Then disappears.  Whatever’s left after this, the rest of me absorbs the light and sound and the elements of wind, the pollen.  Whatever’s left feels so in love with this world, all of it.  Whatever’s left accepts everything as is.  Whatever’s left stays forever in this place and doesn’t resist.  The warm spring sun I forget I am sitting in to enjoy in the chair I no longer feel, is what I become.

 

 

 

It’s Fine to Give Up on Love but the Alternative Might Be Worse

This week’s concurrent bad vibe and drooping orchid proves that love kills flowers.

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Even after blooming amidst this season’s overabundance of rain and uncharacteristic near-freezing temperatures.

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It had hardly seemed like winter from this point of view.  It takes more greens and blooms than can fill a bedroom to kill a bad vibe…

 

 

To this I can’t help but comply with full attention.

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Bright orange and yellow ornaments titivating a feral front yard.  Like wearing nice clothes but opting out of shower, shave, and brushing teeth.

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Pretty shade of red, I’m thinking about making out.

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Looks like sprouted fish eggs genetically modified by cheeky vegan scientists to produce inedible baby flowers instead of fry.  Seriously not sure if these neon pink (totally unedited) flowers were real, or if the camera made all it up just to fuck with me.

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I’ll take the love wherever I can get it.

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As for these, the same applies.  Strange as it may seem.

 

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Really this is no place for resolutions not to care about anybody or anything anymore.  In this place you are not wrong and they are not wrong, nobody is wrong.  Nobody is right.

It’s fine to wear the same clothes as yesterday, eat ice cream and cheeze-its for lunch and not give a shit sometimes.  It’s fine to fall for another epic sleep for the third or fourth time, to lie in bed all day for how many days in a row, don’t remember.  This place accepts your tears and sticks around for the cruelest phases to end embracing the whole of it.

This place will not eat you up inside, will not burn you out.  This place gives all of itself, everything, whether or not it’s seen.  It’s not the most appealing idea at times but this place is not stupid.  It is absolutely not stupid.  Yet it is not clever either.

This place doesn’t need other people’s opinions about what’s wrong.  This place isn’t as lost as it appears.

This place is no place special.  No place unique.  No where to go, no where to travel.  This place is all around everywhere and even in the worst most unbearable phases of life which we will all inevitably experience, it’s available anytime.

 

 

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It’s not stupid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Not Looking

Four hundred and seven miles from home.  I lean over to pick up a light brown and white striped seashell, impressed.  It’s gorgeous.  Bold terra-cotta stripes against ivory on this other one.  Even better.  Even more beautiful.

“Look.”  He walks over to show me.  He gives it to me.  Something green, looks like part of a broken bottle.  Exactly what it is, turns out.  Boring.  The second he turns away I toss it right back into the sand.

“Here’s another one.  This is this stuff called beach glass.”  Never heard of it.  He gives me another lime green lump.  Okay.   I wait for him to turn away again.

“Look, here’s another one!”  He smiles and puts it in my hand with my other stuff.  I take it out.  It doesn’t go with my vision for the shells.  I prefer something natural.  I drop the ones I admire into my palm.  A tiny violet lobster claw, perfectly intact.   A miniature spiral.   Vibrant blackish-purple stripes set off against a cream-colored base on this shell.   Almost flawlessly symmetrical.  Very fine ridges too.

A few more minutes pass.  Here he comes again to hand me another, without a word.  Then turns away.

Alright.  Not sure what the big deal is but this time I give it a chance.  I concentrate on this piece of garbage refined by sand that somebody gave a fancy title to.  Let’s see.  Actually, it’s pretty nice.  Really nice.  Not the lump all by itself.  What jumps out is the striking contrast between the neon green and the beach pastels.  In shape and color and texture, so different.

I watch the whole image develop in my palm before my eyes, like a photograph in a darkroom.  This type of feeling is amazing when it happens.  I watch and feel the fence I’d built around something dissipate, melt into the afternoon wind.  I feel a sense of lightness.  I relax and let the idea in.  I let this simple collection of objects teach me.

The green glows in the sun.  Reminds me of glowworms I’d once seen.  I imagine this green lump hatched from some cocoon in my brain.  It pops out of the soft whites and pinks and browns and purples and greys of the beach.  All of these and then the intriguing green… stone adds interest and mystery to the whole collage.  It’s marvelous because this element changes everything.  Everything, since what it changes is my…mind.  I like it.

Back at my friend’s house I notice what he took home.  Five or six seashells.  Just seashells.  Haha.   He didn’t even notice me hang on to the stone I have now.  Funny how it turned out to be the last one he handed over, this one that I finally kept.  The subject was dropped after that.

I recall another unexceptional green object and my art teacher standing over me, years ago.  “Don’t forget,” he tells me while I struggle to copy a bell pepper resting on my desk.  “If you can’t make the picture look like this pepper, then it means you’re not looking.”  In my memory I look at the dark green pepper and feel afraid that I won’t be able to see it.

Makes sense today, harder to practice.  Forget what’s in my head.  Just look at this right here right now.  What is it?  Not that, over there.  Or in here.  What is this.  Otherwise I’m somewhere else, disconnected.

I’m posting this sign in my mind, right now.  Now this minute, I post it.  There it is, I see it.  When I feel like I don’t want to look or listen or know, when circling back like a vulture to some impaired idea on a dead end road, let me see this verdurous sign in full view on that path and let its words echo.  Go.  Go ahead.

TAKE THIS BEACH GLASS