The other day I was headed to the University of Memphis to listen to one of the jazz concert performances (Jazz Ensemble II), a wind down of Jazz Week celebrated at the school. I was really excited because I truly love listening to jazz music and because my son had a solo during one of the pieces. Two things I love: live music and supporting my kid.
The fifteen minute trip ended up taking nearly an hour as I left with the intent of maybe stopping at Starbucks for a Lemonade Tea, but ended up in the parking lot of a Walgreens pharmacy. No, I didn’t have to pick up any meds. While driving, I became inundated with inspiration that flowed so easily and quickly that I couldn’t just let the thoughts pass through my mind and hope I’d be able to go back and pick them up later. I knew I needed to pull over and let the thoughts flow through my pen and onto my paper. I pulled out the notebook and spent maybe forty minutes just writing. I don’t know what spurred it. I don’t really care. It’s not my job to question the muse, but rather to be led by it. The result was the skeletal foundation for two different poems.
Both poems were about loss. One was about the loss of self when a woman becomes a mother. The other was about the loss of self when a woman depends on a man to validate and “fix” her. Honestly, the one about the loss a mother experiences frightens me. I don’t know where those thoughts came from. They came through me, but not from me. So, today when I went back to work on them, I began on the second one. I don’t have a title yet for either one. I just know they depict a blueness of the soul. To walk in those words is to evoke a melancholy feeling of loss, the feeling of singing the blues. The good thing about the blues is that every blues singer seems to find solace and strength in sharing the blues. In that spirit, I share the first of my blue poems with you:
She wore desperation around her
neck, like a paper chain necklace
strung with cloves of garlic. Somehow
it kept breaking and falling in her lap.
Her friends kept telling her she needed a
good repairman to knock out the kinks and
figure out how to keep the paper chain from
even falling apart. None of them ever imagined
they could figure out how to repair the damage
themselves. That they were equipped with
skills to perform self-maintenance so they too
depended on the skills of the maintenance man.
Every repair man she took it to smelled
the desperation like sex pheromones made
for dipping their sticks in and they weren’t
interested in helping her by fixing what was
broken, instead found a way to profit from her
brokenness. Knowing she’d confuse a gentle
caress with a commitment or see love gleaming
amidst the longing that shimmered in his eyes or
confuse her own unrequited love for something
above and beyond what it really was; it was plain
to see how she could easily confuse stolen moments
under the cover of night as romantic because
no one understands the depth of our love, a love
that can withstand the foul invasion of fumes from
doggie shit that littered the wet grass where he
threw her down on her ass and took what he wanted before
leaving her like he found her before, broken and useless
like the empty drink bottles that littered the field behind
the empty house that no one lived in and that’s why they
chose it, a place no one would think to find two people
so in love with each other giving their best to one another.
Fucking. That’s all. But, hey, her chain was broken.
The desperate girl never stops looking for someone
to help repair the paper chain of her soul , so she
never feels whole, just convenient, used and shoved
to the side with that old foolish pride that once allowed
her to suffer the weight of being proud of the paper chain
of her abused soul. See, she’d delightfully gesture for
people, trying to get them to see, this is where I’ve been
hurt and taken advantage of before, this is the scar from
when my dad stood on a chair as his life fled out to the
sea, far away from the shores of responsibility. And this,
she’d point is where my ex-husband stabbed me
with words so cruel, I bled sufferance and tolerability
for years. And look, she’d point happily like a six-year old
girl discovering the magicality of a butterfly pollinating
the blooms of flowers left out in the sun for too long,
this is where I’ve always carried my capacity to love,
see how it’s withered and dirty, a most undesirable space;
well, that’s the spot where I live most of the time, it’s also
the place where I go to die sometimes, or to sleep, to get away from
all that hurts me. The thing that hurts most, she’ll tell
anyone who’ll stop to listen, is that no one
not anybody has ever loved me enough to come and
live there with me.
So, if you ever see the woman wearing the
paper chain strung with cloves of garlic, stop and
listen as she tells the story of the brokenness of
love and how not everyone gets the happily ever after,
and when she’s finished speaking, pick up a broom,
any old broom will do and follow her to that secret room
and help her sweep out all the shit that has gathered
in the corners and that has piled up in her soul. Let her
know that soul love is whole love and it’s much, much
better when it doesn’t resemble the love you get when
tangled in the sheets with the one who won’t stay
or running the streets behind the one who’s not sure he wants
to stay. Sometimes it’s found in the simple, quiet act of sweeping.
Now, I’m off to get some more writing done. I might go tackle the other blues piece or I may go work on another draft of the short story that I have been working on for a few weeks, but either way I will be writing. Before I leave a piece of advice I’ve given before: Be led by your dreams and today do at least one thing that gets you a step closer to realizing your dreams.
Happy writing, reading and dreaming!
Peace & Love,