Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day 31: The final poem

Here are the numbers:

Number of days: 30
Number of finished poems: 30
Number of unfinished drafts I could still work on: 3
Page views in the past month: 2,020 (holy crap!)
Most popular poem: "Charleston" with 116 page views
Least viewed poem: "It is no small matter" with 26 page views
Number of audio recordings I posted: 2
Hours of sleep lost: a lot

But...holy cow, y'all.  This meant so much more to me than I thought it would.  It feels kinda weird writing about it, actually, because as public as this experience was, the impact feels very private and close to my heart.   

I don't know why I decided to do this.  I don't know why I felt it necessary to start this challenge on some random day in June and why - unlike all the other times I thought about it - I actually did it.  All the way to the end.  It's not that I'm not used to seeing things through to completion...other than that huge, boring counted cross-stitch I started in middle school, and the book The Hobbit, I actually can't think of anything I have started and haven't finished.  But doing this -- finishing this -- it feels like something important.  My heart is here in these words.  Thirty days of my heart. 

My rules were at the beginning were thus:
1.       I am going to try not to expect brilliance or perfection.
2.       I will try not to stress about it.
3.       I will try to limit myself to 30 minutes on the poem.
4.       I will be okay with shitty poems.
5.       I will write one poem every day for 30 days.
So, here's the truth.  I stressed a little bit.  Or maybe a lot.  I spent much more than 30 minutes on many of the poems.  I was not okay with shitty poems, and I declared many poems that I now like to be shitty upon their initial writing.  Actually, I declared every single poem to be shitty.  I can't lie.  I expected every poem to be brilliant and perfect within the first 2 minutes of it being sprung from my brain.  Every single night I posted the poem while saying some version of: "fuck it I'm done with this shitty poem I don't even know why I decided to do this stupid thing anyway this is ridiculous I'm going to bed." 

But here's the thing: I did it anyway.  Every day.  Even when I hated it.  Even when I thought I couldn't.  Even when it scared the everloving shit out of me. 

Because I didn't hate it.  I knew I didn't hate it.  (Except for a couple moments...there were a few moments of hating it).  It wasn't anger or hatred or frustration that made me respond the way I did: it was fear.  This project was scary.  It made me feel vulnerable in many ways - I had to be okay with writing raw emotion when that was all I had.  I had to be okay with writing and sharing things that I found less than perfect, less than "okay," less than I would have previously been willing to share with anyone.  I had to write, and name, and process, and explain my emotions while they were still raw.  I had to be okay with hearing and sharing my own voice, without time to sit with it and make it technologically beautiful.  I couldn't always dress it up all fancy: if I hoped to get any sleep, I was going to have to post it real.  It's kinda like going out without make-up, except it feels more like going out without clothes: this is what the real me looks like.  It's hard.  It's scary.  It's vulnerable.  It's real. 

What I didn't expect, though, was this little exercise would make me feel powerful.  But it does.  It did.  Knowing that I have a collection of 30 poems from the past month, and that they are mine, that they are true, and real, and I alone am responsible for the creation of these small gifts...it makes me feel strong, and powerful, and worthy, and alive.  I feel like I have 30 days of evidence of my power.  Most importantly, I feel like I have seen the ways this has carried over into my life, just in the past two weeks. 

I started this blog in September 2010 and, honestly, I started it out of desperation.  That year was my hell year: I was sexually assaulted in March, and was living through some version of a literal hell - and I know the definition of the word literal.  I was being actively silenced on a daily basis, and I felt powerless.  I began writing to attempt to reclaim my power.  I did not have a choice.  Writing has always been my outlet.  For the past 5 years, it has been a necessity.  I have said that from day one. It has been 5 years, and the struggle is ongoing -- but I am not where I started.  In fact, I am quite far from where I started.  

I know I often gush about my love of poetry, and I feel weird about it...like I'm some sort of supernerd or something, you know?  I have never met anybody who feels as strongly about this as I do...not that I'm not used to being strange...but reading and writing poetry is the closest thing I know to holy.  It is a necessary holy.  Think of holy as a verb.  Like an action and not an adjective.  That kind of holy.  A necessary holy through which I find my voice and power.  It has saved me, as only the most beautiful, important things can, and it continues to save me.  I can't describe the feeling I get when I am engrossed in writing a poem.  It's just holy.  Scared, awful, painstaking, beautiful, self-critical, ugly, patient, grateful holy.

Having 30 days of necessary holiness feels like a gift I have opened inside myself, and I am in awe of it.  I don't mean this to sound conceited -- I am not saying that I am in awe of my words.  I am in awe of what poetry can do.  I am in awe of what it can do for me.  I am in awe of the way that putting words on paper for 30 days creates this sense of being powerful, of being strong, of being worthy.  I do not understand it.  I just know that, whatever it is, I am grateful and, whatever it is, it is a holy necessity. 

So here it is.  The final poem.  (Side note: the story eluded to in this poem is true.  Driving to work this morning, I saw a man fall off his motorcycle and get stuck underneath.  I jumped out of my car and lifted up and moved the bike so he could free his leg.  I think he's probably a bit banged up -- but okay).

The final poem

Day one:
I write about being 
observed at the park.

Day thirty-one:
I lift a motorcycle off 
of a man's leg.

I have nothing left to say
but thank you:
this has been a journey
of scared, beautiful,
self-critical, ugly,
patient, grateful

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