I am currently on a long trip to the USA to attend the Iowa International writing program, with 36 other lovely writer/poets/journalists/filmmakers and free spirits. It took a lot of suitcases, hustling and bustling, manic last dashes to taxi cabs and a little heartache to get here. It took too many airport coffees to mention, and the notion that one can only go forward. It took self discipline and not answering my phone. It took rummaging through bags in late nights to collect the odds and ends of lives, now ready to sleep. It took maniacal laughter on drunken buses celebrating the love of my newly wed friends, who are glorious. It took experiencing an earthquake in a house that shook, conversations with a woman who is 97 years old who told me everyday she still enjoyed life, who told me I was beautiful. It took a lot of rain, and dirt on my toes and a hurricane and laughter as my wondrous sister said the things that only she can say, to my heart.
And now I am here, and life is anew, and there is starlight and sunlight and moonlight and very cheap, very tasty alcohol, and more poets than the soul could bear. There are bookstores, and good looking healthy youngsters, like a balm on tattered thoughts. There is mexican food and hazelnut coffee, and more trees than I can manage to climb in three months. There are mischievous smiles across local bar tables, and the surprise of the discovery of a shared love of poetry and far off deserts.
I have so much to write in the next three months, and vigor flows through all the tired tendons in my elbows and wrists. I am working on my film, and dreaming of evictions of the heart, and older poets reading words I can only fathom writing in a far off blessed future, and in the meantime, after the fragrant colored smoke drifting off river walks in the late night, there are poems, poems that make no sense.
Poem that makes no sense.
Iowa City, August, 2011.
Nothing here reminds me of you, not the languid frogs in the trees,
although, in retrospect, many parallels could be made.
And I like frogs,
Nothing much. At the end of it. Not the hexagon
shapes of possible lights over other moving ripples,
and me and my curls and waving hands,
all the insects in leaves, humming a
funk tune private for my sorrow.
Not even the thighs of young bodies flitting by, briefly humping
everyone’s kinky imagination before furiously
dying as they jog us by,
doomed to motion.
Not even the ungirdled breasts bouncing on cement.
Those smoke-free streets, where
burn still happens.
Not the glorious 4 dollar
shots of kickass whiskey, nor the hawk eye repetitions,
even though you
are no strangers to animals of prey.
Not the blonde braids you would have
noticed on sweaty foreheads,
Not the wide bed, half
alive, not the dead
bed which still has use, that mobile shifting of covers and oblivion, vital.
It is good to sleep in new places.
Not the lack of sand, and everything
being so luscious, not the texture sweet rough dreadlocks
on my gentle new friend, nor
nor the peace of cream cheese on blueberry
bagels, and the search to find ubiquitous coffee,
and finding plenty, nothing
nothing about the
sunlight reminds me of you, not the green green green
not even the damned blue echoing to where we parted.
Not the mania,
as if we needed more salting of what we slashed,
not the music, suddenly
from a forgotten jukebox time, now
also a match lit in the memory shelf of song, which
is like no other,
that recognition of self amongst worlds disparate,
that pitch of human and
machine which stays with one,
when one leaves,
even when one leaves often.
And that other, lighter,
ice blue in
the face of a tamed
wolf who liked table spoons, etched on wrists, because of poetry
and something else within him,
which I may never know.
Not even his hands reminded me of you.
That jukebox manna crashed
across a strange bar, casual,
and, not even
the silence in me reminded me of you.
It is all really rather silly, all of it, in
the end, the
moaning and groaning,
and the unexpected yearning which abates,
and the lack of will to always go into
all of that breaking, and this evil
notion of time,
and not even thoughts of my mortality, grisly, reminded me of you.
It is 1:21 in the morning,
this here is a new continent
wrists flounder and probe,
back hunches, and stretches to maintain life,
waist distended and spine
out of righteous sphere,
head a little askew in its orbit,
and my eyelashes a horizon of all I could have
possibly seen before
you, all that which did not tell of your name,
i am cold
and I will not sleep,
for it is important
it is important to write a poem that does not remind me of you.
Which, perhaps, makes sense.