Poetry has, again and again, saved me. Reading poetry, listening to poetry, writing poetry...when the Tough Times start, I can remember or find or write a poem that speaks to the heart of it in ways that prose and conversation just can't. In this too big, too sensitive, too much heart body that I live in, poetry is the only way that I know how to understand and communicate and uncover the depths of what I live and feel and know. Prose waxes melodramatic and wordy. Poems? The more emotional they are, the more powerful they turn. (The good ones anyway). Poetry is the way I have learned to find my voice, over and over again. When I lose it, when the Tough Times start, it's the way I find it. It's the way I center and ground myself. Even as a very young child, I would recite poems in my head. I remember reciting "The Puffin" in my head to go to sleep when I was as young as 6 years old. ("Oh there once was a puffin in the shape of a muffin, and he lived on an island in the deep blue sea. He ate little fishes that were most delicious and he had them for supper and he had them for tea...").
So why the apologizing? Why the embarrassment? Why the hesitation?
Because poetry has been the way I find my voice. It is the way I tell my stories. It is one way that I show that which is my true self to the world. And -- that is both an explanation, and also really fucking frustrating. In a world where we all fight to tell our stories and hear the sounds of our own voices -- why should I silence the way in which I can best and most easily communicate that which is me? It's been taught, in part. And it's also just been shaped over time
Right now? Those Tough Time monsters have struck, and I am angry about many things. Today, I'm angry about the way we silence our voices and our stories. I'm so done with that silence. Because I think in poems, I remember the lines from Eve Ensler's "Manifesta to young women and girls" in I Am An Emotional Creature:
" Ask yourself these questions:
Why am I whispering when I have something to say?
Why am I adding a question mark at the end
of all my sentences?
Why am I apologizing every time I express my needs?
Why am I hunching over?
Starving myself when I love food?
Pretending it doesn't mean that much to me?
Hurting myself when I mean to scream?
Why am I waiting
I am done, done, done with question marks and silence and apologies and whispers. I'm angry at question marks. I'm pissed off at silence. I'm finished with apologies and whispers and parenthetical statements I make to undermine what I say.
This poem is one I wrote a while ago and never liked. While I was driving today, it finally found its final form. It's an angry poem. Rawr.
Even as I walk with the unlaced perfection that comes with
and talk with the air that says: "if you believe me,
I might believe me too,"
I write with utter abandon, because words
are the narcotics I use
to dull the pain of living.
Call me a silent revolutionary.
A fighter. I use words as bullets
thoughts as bombs
incite political movements through my fingertips
as my pencil scratches the turf of the notebook.
Call me a silent revolutionary.
Silence me and feed my addiction -- you
with your Disney Princess dreams and silencing schemes,
you run tracks up my arms
pumping my bloodstream with pure bliss.
Delude me into thinking I can start
these words are my illness
for everything that ails me:
Give me one more reason to write.
Incite more words--
I dare you to light the fire of this pipe dream and watch
while I burn your world