I always bookmarked those beautiful sets of baby bump progression photos,
imagining what my own might look like someday.
As it turns out, there are no pictures of my bump that have not been taken, by myself, in a bathroom.
I'll fix that at some point...
|Wrong concert, correct sentiment // Atmosphere show #4|
I think I felt you, in a crowded coliseum downtown, under a canopy of swinging can lights and glittering camera flashes. A twinge of a brush of limb on ligament, a pressure, a set of serial movements setting a mind at ease.
I felt you and uncertainty settled, I felt you and said nothing, I felt you and the lights circled wildly, an interactive performance, a flexing of fingers on ivory and an old man at a piano and I felt you in the most perfect way I could have felt that newness, before an oldness, an archive of pop culture wrapping around a womb and producing our dive into this thing together.
I felt you and grinned within and out and beamed. I felt you and was so moved by the dance of life at its beginning as you danced with middle-aged beauties falling in step with time and rhythm and I felt you where the music is made and I know that you will join me here on these steps, in these seats, in these amphitheaters full of sweaty joviality, that our molecules circle together now and will in perpetuity. Esto perpetua, whoever you are and will be.
When you existed and I didn't know it yet:
|Great Falls, VA // December 2014|
- your father and I danced in the kitchen to “Came out of a Lady” by Rubblebucket, a song I’m sure I will sing for you, a video I’m sure I will play for you. You came out of a lady and I want you to save me, that’s amazing…
- I watched a swarm of Puerto Rican puppeteers descend on Hemming Plaza and chase a horde of laughing children around an easy evening and I imagined what life would be like when I was on the other side of this seemingly impossibly tall fence dividing BEFORE and AFTER not knowing I was already climbing...
- I stood with others and protested the injustices of this country, because it matters, because black lives matter, because the people in our communities alongside you matter. Because there are mothers with skins of different pigments who feel their children in their bellies as I feel you and that cycle of wonder is no less important than yours and mine. I hope this is a conversation and set of concepts that we will hash out many times in the future until you see as clearly as I that when our friends speak, we listen.
- I tried yoga for the first time and discovered I really really like it. I like to test my body and feel it conquer new worlds and positions, I like having a group of my favorite women over weekly, I like that our house is a welcoming and inviting space for meditative moments.
- I spoke my poetry aloud before an audience, multiple times over, when I was oblivious to your existence and then knowledged. It is a goal of mine for you to see me participate creatively, not just in our home but also sharing with others. It is important that you know what community looks like, true community, not the social imitations from the television. I want you to know and to participate, too.
- I climbed sheer rock faces high above a roaring river. I trampled dewy fields of clover down somewhere in West Virginia, hands and feet covered in layers against pervasive cold. I called after your father nervously when he traveled too far, to where I couldn't go, and I watched him deftly make his way back through glossy leaves.
It's been quiet in here. For those of you who don't know, I have recently found out that I am pregnant. Perhaps unrelatedly and for some odd reason my writing has dried up. I'm sure it will bloom again, unexpectedly, and I am in no hurry... But I do find myself in a state of introspection and hermitage from my usually bustling social existence. I am contemplating what is in store for my futures, both immediate and long term. I am waiting to see if writing is a permanent state of existence for me or if I have reached the end of this particular creative reservoir.
I say all of this because I stumbled on a quote this morning by Mik Everett that, through this bit of silence, I want to share:
What happens if you fall in love with a writer?
Lots of things might happen. That’s the thing about writers. They’re unpredictable. They might bring you eggs in bed for breakfast, or they might all but ignore you for days. They might bring you eggs in bed at three in the morning. Or they might wake you up for sex at three in the morning. Or make love at four in the afternoon. They might not sleep at all. Or they might sleep right through the alarm and forget to get you up for work. Or call you home from work to kill a spider. Or refuse to speak to you after finding out you’ve never seen To Kill A Mockingbird. Or spend the last of the rent money on five kinds of soap. Or sell your textbooks for cash halfway through the semester. Or leave you love notes in your pockets. Or wash you pants with Post-It notes in the pockets so your laundry comes out covered in bits of wet paper. They might cry if the Post-It notes are unread all over your pants. It’s an unpredictable life.
But what happens if a writer falls in love with you?
This is a little more predictable. You will find your hemp necklace with the glass mushroom pendant around the neck of someone at a bus stop in a short story. Your favorite shoes will mysteriously disappear, and show up in a poem. The watch you always wear, the watch you own but never wear, the fact that you’ve never worn a watch: they suddenly belong to characters you’ve never known. And yet they’re you. They’re not you; they’re someone else entirely, but they toss their hair like you. They use the same colloquialisms as you. They scratch their nose when they lie like you. Sometimes they will be narrators; sometimes protagonists, sometimes villains. Sometimes they will be nobodies, an unimportant, static prop. This might amuse you at first. Or confuse you. You might be bewildered when books turn into mirrors. You might try to see yourself how your beloved writer sees you when you read a poem about someone who has your middle name or prose about someone who has never seen To Kill A Mockingbird. These poems and novels and short stories, they will scatter into the wind. You will wonder if you’re wandering through the pages of some story you’ve never even read. There’s no way to know. And no way to erase it. Even if you leave, a part of you will always be left behind.
If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.
|Cummer in the earliest Fall|
The singer seamlessly stops mid-lyric and slings a breathy “hey” my way
as I wait for the waitress, shoulder to the wall.
Plate glass reflecting shifting shades of surrealism (and painted sunglasses?)
refract a popular culture that aged out of power decades ago.
I’m fidgety at a table by myself, trying to channel this energy properly but
my pen taps mad against the paper.
Brain, be still.
It’s actually still warm outside but
inside the Atrium the best kind of chill has descended,
driving my fists inside pockets.
“Stand by me,” on repeat, three words exhaled through gap teeth.
Listen: to electric guitar somehow quietly shredding,
to the soft back and forth pad of of the singer’s feet.
Listen to the shotgun scooch of cafe chair against carrara marble.
This music is more suited for fields
trodden down by gathered bohemians
than this current configuration of whispering art patrons
And when the singer drifts off key
doubtless no one notices ‘cept me and that’s fine-
I can keep my mouth shut.
|1904 // Before Wackness Descended|
In Jacksonville the riots are on TV
as a gaggle of child rappers take the stage.
The shrieking faces shrink down to LCD flatscreen height and width,
contained in the space of a pixel and as easily overlooked.
I can no more blame than explain my interest
in a 19 year old plastic pitbull of a human being,
a walking gimmick, a schtick-up if you will.
Stitches and the other youngbloods are glitches
in the pop culture matrix which makes this student
of the universe perversely curious.
Thankfully the pain of aging is quiet, mostly, though
sitting on the floor of 1904 with my head relaxed
against the rattling speaker cabinet I feel the clamor crescendo.
It’s midnight on Thursday and I have work in the morning.
Through a haze of – body heat? Fake cocaine? Wannabe endo?
Who knows what this thickness is that hangs over our heads
but the strobe lights pierce it effortlessly and through it I see
a groping and desperate thirst somehow crammed
and coerced into young white bodies.
I feel like a bully. Like I oughta get this superiority complex examined
because I can’t understand it, the clear rift dividing sincere from riff raff,
the blaring transparency of marketing turning its keen eyes on us.
You didn’t come to this stage by your talent, motherfucker. Who’s paying for these beats?
You disgust me, turning me even against weed, on stage looking like an eggplant
with a skullcap barely on your head, flashing a set of shiny golden teeth.
I feel like overturning every table in this tainted temple,
taunted by televisions mounted on historic brick.Mmm I’m too old for this shit
|Mellow Mushroom Avondale // Keep Walking|
Truth is I haven't felt comfortable in this space for a hot minute. Too many advances in life, too many detours to keep up with, etc. Too many half-written poems lounging in the draft box. Too many new faces that I haven't quite pinned (penned) down yet.
Or maybe it's just that my new phone doesn't automatically upload my pictures to Google anymore. Even this picture here is from...what, June? I've lived a thousand lives since this neon sign hovered over head, a T.J. Eckleburg of my very own. "The only piece of art here!" I exclaimed, excited that the new Mellow Mushroom had at least one saving grace against the seven flatscreens anchored to concrete block, only to realize - duh. It's an advertisement for Johnny Walker. I haven't been back since.
Which, really, encapsulates the symbolism of this summer quite well.
The creeping feeling that marketing is catching up to my tastes... it's insidious down to the core.
But. All there is is to keep walking, keep bringing home suitcases of thoughts to unpack and mull over. I was born into this strange amorphous existence and it's my self-appointed duty to appreciate it as it is...
|The Landing // Jacksonville Jazz Festival 2014|
On stage is a lion with a fade and oiled slide.
Young lord of trembling roar, summoning the swelter
with tightly buzzing mouth and drawn cheeks,
in the shelter underneath the Coca Cola tent.
The sunken dais at The Landing cradles a diaspora
of Jacksonville polychromatics, a surprise
sector of jazz fanatics in sun hats.
I’m following threads of triplets and flecks of spittle flinging
off of polished brass, remembering returns to silence at the end of class.
Let me set the stage in a tray of formaldehyde so age can’t have its way:
I am still in the practice room next to yours with my face pressed against cool brick,
catching each of your vibrations like a stolen kiss.
Trying to gather the courage to ask
“do you mind if I sit in here and listen? I’ll be quiet…”
A little chunk of maple sugar dances ‘round his mother
in the center of a casual crowd. A woman in a Hoveround barks at blonde sisters
and I sit alone, entranced.
This conglomerate of culture is church reclined on concrete steps, sipping beer.
The elderly gentleman behind me stomps the ground and cheers. “Yes, baby! Yes.”
I understand. Say no more. Yes.
I am whole when the music stands in front of me,
whole when parts of my anatomy become melody
and my lipid layers liquidate to link with written staves
and arpeggiate: F A C E
I still have so many questions
for before the decades pack the horns away.
Are you haunted like me by intervals left unrecorded?
By lyrics long lapsed into the chasmic silence of forgotten?
Man, I dread the death of these refrains the most,
when dreadlocks hop off the A train with giant steps, fading
from the lead sheets like ghosts.
|Dark Sprout by Brian Frus // Jacksonville University Glass Department|
I was grateful
for the air conditioning
on the ride to the studio,
already alight with adrenaline
in anticipation of what fires might await.
Here is the professor’s desk,
holding class in cauldrons of molten glass.
Here is where sorcerers clothed in breathable cotton
wield glowing gazing balls at staff length. Jacks scrape
against hardening glass; my fumbling touch
is not hard enough or too much, ever adjusting
under the constant influx of instruction.
I listen, spidering my fingers
along a rolling rod, contemplating form. Aesthetic.
I grab at my glass arbitrarily in search of the organic
but this is not my medium.
I prefer the stool off to the side,
guzzling water, far enough away from alchemy
but not out of the heat. Sweat drips
yet masters never lose their grip, smoothing shapes
with hands of aged newspaper.
Any set of practiced hands
is sure to capture my glance
and from yours I can’t look away.
What is it that you are made of?
This is your every day,
a constant chosen crucible.
You stand fearlessly
before the murmuring bellies
of dragons. I never knew
you to be so in tune, I never knew
the ripples of gleaming forearms moving fluid
in the flowing waves of energy.
In between flashes of heat
the master gaffer gathers laughter
and swings the rod in circles
as preconceived perceptions
slowly soften in the fire.