Tag Archives: moving

Ten Poems (09-04-17)

all right guys. i’m having trouble writing. so we’re reinstating ten poems in twenty minutes, that way least i’m writing something.
welcome to day one.

 
1:
I’m working again
In an office that gives you free food and drink and snacks for the day.
What could be better?
I’m in a safe office. There’s a place to park.
The people are kind.
Short commute.
Good pay. Easy.
Easy work.
It’s not hard. It’s entering numbers, basically.
My bills are paid for once, without dipping into my savings.
And yet. Although. But. Wait. Hang on.

2:
Last summer when I had to take cold showers,
I would sing a song as loud as I could in my head.
While I got done what it was I needed to do.
I can’t think about it. If I do, I stop.
I keep hoping, it’ll get better, easier,
If I keep pushing myself to get it done.
Today, getting up will be easy,
Brushing my teeth won’t be climbing a mountain.
But I hiked a thousand stairs yesterday.
My legs are sore,
And I still can’t make myself brush my hair.

3:
No.
You don’t get to treat me this way.
I am not a person to be unsure about or around.
You’re with me or you’re not.
I don’t do half-washed certainties.
My ideas can be fluid and in motion.
My feelings are not.
You’re with me, or you’re out.
If you can’t make up your mind and ask.
I’m gone.
I offered.

4:
I told someone I wrote these.
For stranger friends to see my soul.
And I’ve had trouble writing ever since.

What I say in anonymity, is a comfort.
I process out loud; I need a bounce-back to think it through.
And when I don’t have that, I use you.
But the thought that my thinking, that what I might not feel, but what’s written, true.
Might be heard and exposed by someone,
Has shown me a coward,
And caused a lack of words.
I’m sorry.

5:
I live now with my sister and her husband.
She asked, how could we be stressful?
After living with Mom and her husband.
And I couldn’t answer.
She doesn’t remember all the damage she’s done.
Or the oddities I bear because of her.

She doesn’t see the strength of a weakness,
Or the person behind anti-social whatevers.
If you don’t shower there’s something wrong with you.
Because she can’t be wrong. Right?

6:
Let me tell you the truth.
I will erase this sentence after it’s written, but I have to keep it here to start writing.
I will make it perfect, but first I have to get it out. Then I can fix it.
This is a judgment free zone for the next fifteen minutes.
Write it, then fix it, but be true, and not cutesy.
Just start typing.

7:
At the blood bank to give blood for the first time,
I threw up at the reception desk, into her trash can,
From nerves. And because I had just hiked six miles of stairs in the Texas heat and humidity without enough water. Then I drank warm water I had waiting in the car, and took a bite of a granola bar that had been sitting there too long.

I called my mom.
She was the mom I remember.
The great mom.
Who was there for me.
To make me laugh, and make me feel better,
Tell me how great I am. That I’m superwoman.
And all I could think abut was that I don’t know what I’ll do when she’s gone.

8:
I don’t want to be boring. I don’t want to have done nothing.
But I don’t want to travel the world and use what I take from other people’s cultures as a way to make myself better, as a way to make myself more appealing to new people I meet.
I want to be important. But I won’t mistreat people. If you tell me I’m doing something wrong, if I’m hurting someone, I’ll stop.
I want someone to love me. But I want partnership. I don’t want to make all the decisions. I want to be the bridge partner who calls trump, and lets his partner lead, directing the flow of power from behind the scenes with well played strategy, silent strength, and smarter than you all.
I want to be able to support myself, and live alone, I want to find out how to make myself happy,
Without your help.

9:
If you can’t run with me,
I’ll never see you as an equal.
If you can’t go twelve-rounds arguing about why a zebra would be a better politician than a hippo, I don’t want to let you see me.
If you are too grounded to never admit you’re wrong, to never be corrected,
Or take a criticism with a nod and a you’re right,
Then I want to go back to my people, the friends I know.
Who will argue with me about the socio-controlling forces of the anarchistic traffic light,
Or at least smile while I ramble on.

10:
I’m scared you only love me without my filter.
That I’m Doug Stanhope, only funny without the alcohol.
When I’m not sleeping enough, and my brain can’t work well enough to work against me,
I can only then be myself, and only then loved.
But when my bricks are up full force, when I’ve slept and ate enough, I become a waiting game,
Waiting for me to go back to “normal.”

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7 Poems with Titles

i will post something better, and better written tomorrow. this is all i can do for today.

Heard in the Hallway
I thought,
I’m not in rural Alaska anymore.
I won’t have to hear abuse happen and be powerless and guilty.
But I came home.
And he hits the dogs.
Not in a, I’m venting my anger,
But in a, you’re not behaving properly way.
And I want to go away.
But he’s old, and hopefully dying.
And I don’t want to deal with it.
Or make my mother deal with her husband.

I’m Sorry
He called me a minefield.
I keep thinking,
He’s the wrong one to practice this on.
This time,
I can’t disentangle whether it was him, or it was an old hurt
That I’m just deciding to feel today.
I flashed back to all the times I would be excited, or mad, or really happy.
And my sister would be there to make fun of me,
So that I never showed how I was feeling,
No one would notice and no one would hurt me.
She would flick her thumbnail over her ring finger and tsk,
God, what is wrong with you.
She’d say.
He was teasing my mood in a casual way.
Then.
I lost it, and started crying. Why was I crying?
Suddenly all those 13 year-old me feelings come back,
I got quiet, and I didn’t know why.
And I don’t think he’s strong enough to deal with this,
Or smart enough.

I Lost the Whatever I Had
My sister says I’m wasting away.
That’s what living in this house does to me.
My mother’s house.
She says she can’t watch it.
She says come live with her.
This is what happens when I can’t speak my mind,
When I can’t criticize,
When no one thinks I’m important.
All the whatevers I found living on my own disintegrate.
So that I have to cry silently at two in the morning so no one bothers me.

I Don’t Like Her
My brother’s first girlfriend.
When my sister pushed me for the whys.
I said, “she’s young.”
She’s …
How do you say someone is accidentally racist?
They’re only 19.
And he’s sillier with her than I’ve seen him in a long time.
She’s a lot like me.
And it’s hard to see your own traits reflected back at you by a prettier face.
She asked me to tell embarrassing stories about my brother to her.
How do I explain what’s wrong with that?
I told my sister, she’s very much raised as middle-class suburbs Indiana.
I think he’s smarter than her. I think he can easily out-maneuver her.
I worry that she’s not enough of a force of nature to counteract the abusive tendencies his father taught him.
He asked, and I said, “you like her, I like her.”
Cop out. I’m a cop out.

She’s Way Too Good of a Person to Be Friends with Me
It’s not often I’m the crazy lady who takes someone on adventures.
Except with her I am.
I’m the brave one.
And she takes me seriously, and the things I tell her actually seem to help her.
It’s almost like I’m scared she’ll clean the cynic out of me and I’ll have to start caring again.
Oh god save me.

I Haven’t Found a Job
I shake, literally my hands shake, like they do when I confront my mother,
When I have to apply for jobs.
I have to put my hand over my eyes, scary-movie-watching style, and just type.
To the outside, it’s such an easy fix.
I want to find a job, almost any job, before I move,
Just kidding, I want a paying job that isn’t demeaning.
And there go all my options.

This Counseling Book
Don’t worry about why I’m reading it.
Listen to what I discovered.
If the counselor and the client have different social-economic status, personal values, background and experiences, they might not click.
My god. This is why people who move have so many problems.
Think about it, if you don’t want to share with a trained professional who’s a little different than you, why would you ever be friends with someone so vastly different than yourself. They, and I quote, don’t have “intuitive insight.”
And you know what else?
This is exactly why my roommate up north couldn’t find any friends,
Because she doesn’t have anything in that list in common with the locals, and she didn’t know how to find common ground.
She thought the common ground should come to her.

Leaving South

i left alaska. i’m back with my mom.

She drove and gave me another hug.
She gave me a hug twice.
And told me she has a lot of friends, but not a lot of good friends.
And I got on the boat.
And watched it pull away from the dock.
And as we left the rolling hills and pine trees of the pacific northwest,
Driving through the fog dusted mountains on 90,
I kept thinking, turn around, I’m going the wrong way,
This isn’t right.
But I left all the same.
And I cried by myself in the midship deck that used to be a bar,
Crashed on the curved blue couch in the back,
With everything I possesed right there.
Now I have to go to yoga, and move all my stuff out of storage,
And find a job,
And fix my car registration,
And file my taxes
And figure out what the hell to do about my friends and these people I seem to have acquired.
When I just want to hide.
And I want quiet.
And they didn’t give me whipped cream on my smoothie.

I got to Seattle,
And I said the trees don’t look right,
These aren’t my trees.
This isn’t the Tongass.
I want my forest back.
With all its scars and its danger.
It didn’t care that I was this thing,
It didn’t give me a second glance,
But kept going with it’s own life,
I can respect that.

I miss the salmon strips and chips car rides.
Riding out the road with loud music playing,
And one of us sitting in the middle back seat with their arms on the passenger rests
Eating smoked fish with our fingers, skin and all,
And passing around a bag of sunchips,
Talking with our mouths full,
About how much we loved each other.

I remember driving down killer hill at one of the 3 p.m. sunsets
And the world filled with orange,
I thought, it’s almost worth it.
To pay eight dollars a gallon for milk,
And not be able to buy fresh meat at the store.
To know none of these kids stand a chance.
I left on the ferry, going nowhere, back to my mother’s house,
I watched the new terminal pass behind the boat,
Until I couldn’t see the light,
Standing out there with only the die-hard smokers in the cold,
In the jacket I was wearing when we got stuck out the road.
I stood there undecided.

I don’t want my life, my year up north to be some memory I use,
I won’t expose those people, who were good to me,
I wouldn’t do that.
I want it to keep growing, I don’t wan to lose them.
But I didn’t want to stay by myself. I couldn’t.

10 Poems on Southeast Alaska

i’m changing it up a bit guys, I’m writing on a theme, don’t freak out or nothing.

1:
Most people,
When they move to Alaska,
Talk about how much they miss home,
Because unless you’re born here,
It is never your place.
But I don’t know that I’m going to be able to live somewhere else.
These trees are starting to feel safe, this always-there mist is a welcome sight,
I’m learning the twists of the roads and the potholes,
I recognize who owns each truck.
And familiarity is a comfort,
A comfort like home.

2:
They tolerate me, because I want nothing from them.
Not their money, or their land, or their men.
But, in a place like this, that would turn so fast,
If I got pregnant, if I brought an STD here that isn’t already,
If I tried to stay, on my own,
If I thought for just one minute I belonged.

3:
No one is talking about the rape rates of small town Alaska.
It’s not rape,
If they’re married, or if they’re together.
Unless it’s a stranger breaking into someone’s house,
Then it counts.
There aren’t any kits here.
And, it’s common,
Unimportant,
The worst kind of ubiquitous.

4:
Let’s stay dark,
These women are overweight, like scary overweight,
It might be better for their self-confidence that way,
Lord knows, they’re not judging me, for once, which is nice.
But they’re going to die early, and leave these kids.
The nurse practitioner here doesn’t ask,
Do you drink?
She asks, how many drinks have you had today?
We’ve had four mothers die from drinking in the past two years. Four out of 500 people.
These clothes have holes in them.
These kids have coughs.
No one has their car registered, or insurance, and they drive without seat belts.
If you get hurt, uninsured, it’s 14,000 dollars in a helicopter to a hospital.
There is no law. We have no cop. We have no volunteer police like we used to.
We have no one to stop you driving drunk with kids in your car.
None of these houses look nice, not on the inside, not on the outside.
All these kids have been hit.
Someone of these kids are inbred.
None of these kids are prepared to do anything but fish,
Or anything else after they’ve finished fishing. They all live at home.
There’s no money here, and no jobs, and the jobs that are here are staffed by outsiders, because the workforce here is a joke.
I’ve seen six-year olds with guns for hunting.
And there’s no goddamn people to care,
Or a reason to care. We’re an island, we’re small, we’re rural, we’re too far away.

5:
The salmon are running.
They taught me there’s five types.
Use your hand to remember,
Pink salmon, like your pinky.
Silver, you wear silver on your ring finger, coho.
King, the best, your tallest, middle finger.
Sock-eye, index finger pokes people, socks you in the eye.
Chum, dog-salmon, thumb sounds like chum.
They’ve all got even more names for each of these,
But this is what I know.

6:
No-see-ums.
The little things that suck your blood, smaller than a mosquito, so you can’t see them.
Fireweed.
Purple plant that lines the road, you can make honey out of it, well more of a syrup.
Salmon berries.
Yellow or red, good to eat, tarter than a raspberry, but sweeter too.
Hudson bay tea.
Plant, brown leaves on one side, smells like Hudson Bay Tea.
Cedar.
I can tell you what cedar smells like now, hundreds of years old.
Clan.
I’ve met people whose ancestors have been here ten thousand years.
Halibut.
Hell of a butt, I’ve eaten this, cooked, while it was still warm coming from the sea.
Whales.
They sound like steel grinding.
Cell-phone service.
You forget it’s not there after a while, out on the roads.

7:
To get here,
I boarded a plane at 5:30 a.m. eastern time after a fifteen minute drive from my parent’s house.
That plane landed in Chicago.
From there I walked across the u-shaped airport to fly to Seattle. Seattle to the capital.
Then via a tiny little seaplane to my island.
That’s my favorite part, flying on the seaplane.
Well, this time it was just a little plane on land,
But you fly over the national forest, over mountains no people have touched, over land, and inlets, and places without fences, water, water, and clouds.
And you know, if this plane goes down, you won’t last.
And there’s just this little tiny, bendable piece of aluminum between you, and what you know will be the most beautiful fall of your life.

8:
I’m slowly learning the history, the stuff I should have looked up on Wikipedia before I came.
About the native population, their story,
The crazy stuff that’s happened, the sadness that’s happened.
And why there are no reservations in Alaska (we’re not counting that tiny Canadian thing)
I’m learning how not to be racist. I’m learning about being a minority.
I’m trying to learn, if I’m not getting anywhere.

9:
The questions I answer people from here.
My name is.
I’m from Indianapolis. That’s in Indiana, about 200 mile south of Chicago.
I’ve been here six months.
I’m liking it pretty well.
Yes, I have an iPhone, so I have cell service.
I live up there in the house with the English teacher.
I work over at the library. I’m here with a national service organization,
The federal government pays me.
Yes, I’ve gone on a loop, and been to the beach.
That’s my little blue car. It’s worth about $2,5000. I had it shipped on AML.
No, I’m sorry, I haven’t met them, I don’t know who that is.
My father is a pastor.
Yes, it was nice to talk to you.

10:
The questions I answer people from home.
Yes, I live in Alaska.
No it doesn’t snow here very much.
It’s actually 60 degrees, sunny, with a light breeze.
I live in Southeast.
That’s the panhandle, it’s about 900 miles north of Seattle, if that helps. That’s roughly the distance of New York City to Jacksonville Florida.
They don’t actually call themselves Eskimos, but Yupiks live farther north.
Russia is closer to the island chain in the west part of Alaska.
Yes, I’ve seen bears, they haven’t bothered me, most people carry a gun, in case.
We’ve got wolves, deer, coyotes, moose and porcupine as well.
Quite a few people drink up here, that’s true.
Food comes in on the ferry or on barge.
There’s a store and a liquor store, a post office, a school, a community center, an old people’s home.
No, I don’t know your mother’s cousin who lived in Alaska for two years in the 70s.
Yes, I like it here.
I don’t know when I’ll be back.

Poems from My Day (6-26)

my god have i been writing poetry for two years now?

1:
My house in Alaska has run out of gas.
No hot showers.
Cold water to clean with.
And the day in late June, when the temperature drops below 45,
I have no heat.
To get gas, I have to call a guy to come pick it up from the fuel station and bring it to my house, and pay him $20 and find the lock on the tank.
I can’t bring myself to do it just yet.

2:
How do I tell my sister what I want for my birthday,
How do I say, spend this on me,
When she’s as poor as I am.
Do I give her options, but then I sound greedy.
This is something that needs to be done over the phone.
But then I’d have to call her.
I’d just rather not bother with.
Maybe she’ll forget.

3:
I can write like “Frog & Toad Together.”
Short sentences are easy to read.
They make writing difficult.
A lot of emotion fits in simple ideas.
Many feelings squeeze into short stories.
Mr. Lobel tells powerful, human stories.
I would like to do that too.

4:
He says I could fix me if I wanted,
I’m not trying hard enough.
He says I don’t want to have more confidence,
Get better.
But he also says he loves me,
So his word isn’t much to go on.

5:
I confided in my mother,
So I felt supported and connected to humanity for a minute.
But everything I tell her will come back to bite me,
Take a big chunk out of my heart later,
“Well don’t you remember two weeks ago when you said …”
I knew that going into the call.
The need to talk to someone
Outweighed the need to feel lonely.

6:
I want to be lost in the world of a crappy romance novel.
So I don’t pay attention to food,
Or weather,
And the problems of my day to day life.
I just can’t start reading.

7:
It hurts so much, having no one to talk to.
Who I can open up to completely,
Without fear of repercussion.
Someone who’s here with me,
Who already knows my story.
It’s so damn hard,
And I’ve been under the impression that friendship isn’t something you force,
So I’m sitting here waiting for it to happen, naturally.

8:
I’ll go to a new small town, village, thing,
Where I’ll be self-supportive, and not need anything from anyone,
That’ll be better.
I’ll be able to be myself,
And I won’t have to answer to anyone,
I can be rude, and snotty, like I am in my heart,
And I won’t care if people dislike me,
And any friends I get will be real friends, because I’ll be being myself.

9:
My roommate took a bunch of kids to Costa Rice for a senior trip.
She wanted them out of this village, to see the world,
And also to have a passport, a passport that’s good for ten years.
This reminded me I have a passport. I can go wherever I want.
If I can afford the plane ticket.
I moved to Alaska by myself,
I can do anything.

10:
Start peddling.
That’s what he told me on the phone.
I liked that.
Maybe that’s what I’ll start doing, once my bike works and stuff.
I’ll get a helmet and fit in that way.
Up and down the hills.
I’ll bring a camera, my camera, and I’ll travel all around.
With a cell phone of course.
People will recognize me then.

Poems from My Day (5-25)

the last one, i think, is the only good one of the bunch

1:
She thinks he’s rich.
He has like a million dollars.
Well, if he’s 55 years old,
Plans to retire soon, and has made 50,000 a year for a long period of time,
He’s not rich.
That’s money to live on regular-like,
After you stop working.
But how do you explain that to a hair-toss
Who wants to hate his ex-wife for taking the house?

2:
If you pay us enough money,
We won’t have to sell our souls anymore.
We’ll have the emotional energy to turn around,
And ask,
What do you think you’re doing?

3:
I’m not working properly today.
I’m sorry.
But, you know me,
I’m always sorry.

4:
Speaking of stress,
I haven’t felt this much in a long time,
I thought to myself, wow this is kind of fun,
Being this stressed,
Energy boost,
Then I remembered this used to be my normal default.
That’s why I deserted.

5:
I’m going home for my brother’s graduation.
Somehow it seems all about me.
Who will I see that I’ll want to avoid, because I feel fat and unaccomplished?
How am I going to get that car my mother decided to buy for me from here to Alaska?
I’ve calculated exactly how many hours I’ll have to spend with my sister.
My mom will have brie and crackers and juice for me at the house.
But it’s my brother, my little brother,
Who’s done something worthy of attention.

6:
Hi Shawn, it’s me.
I’m leaving you that voicemail I said I would.
The sunsets.
The sunsets here are gorgeous.
It’s so pretty here all I say is gorgeous.
The beauty has diminished my vocabulary.
That’s how gorgeous it is here.
Huge scrapes of purple, and reds, yellows, and pinks.
Right over the water,
Past the mountains hanging in the distance.
And the clouds,
Make it all worth it.
Because on the days they’re not there,
The clear blue days,
Are the most beautiful things.
Do you know what cedar smells like?
The room where I dry my clothes has cedar in it.
So I smell like cedar.
And I saw bears!
I went hiking, and there was this guy, just sitting there,
Right there on the tree stump.
God, Shawn,
It’s so beautiful.
The campfires with cold beer and a full moon,
You can see the stars here.
Anyway,
I’ll be back home this weekend,
So I was thinking of you.
I thought I’d call.

Poems from My Day (5-10)

i had a day i thought would turn out better.

1:
I bought a bike.
I purchased it in pieces.
I assembled as much as I could.
Perhaps I was overwhelmed.
It’s been sitting half done in the spare room.
That room smells like rubber now.
Hang on a second, I have to let the dog in.
Two people offered to help.
I can’t take them up on it.
I don’t know why.
I should be biking,
I’ll have to this summer,
Carless. When my ride goes back down to Montana.
I can’t seem to, get it done.
I stare at it.
I think, give me a little more time.
I think that about a lot of things,
Just give me a minute.
One more second.
A moment to figure it out.
I am the mud of spinning wheels.
I am death.
I don’t know what that means.
I should go to sleep.

2:
I’m sad my clothes smell like the wet mold you get from not drying properly.
I don’t know how to fix this.
The dog, not my dog, the dog bangs at the door to come in.
She scratches.
Her owner taught her to breathe at the door.
Exhale, exhale, exhale.
She wants to come in.
I can’t hold out as long as my roommate.
The whining gets to me.
If I ever have a baby,
The same thing will probably happen.
I’ll be the weak one who’ll give into the cries.

3:
The woman who works next to me read me part of a book today,
A children’s book about how to play nicely with others,
Something something brown colored pencil,
No one wanted to be around the thing because it was always negative.
Is that me?
I am a brown colored pencil that’s always angry and sad.
What does it mean about my adulthood that I take lessons from children’s picture books?
I self-censor when I keep my mouth shut.
Adult conversation isn’t all that advanced from when we were seven, I suppose.

4:
A little kindergardener mimicked me in a mocking way today.
That hadn’t happened to me in years,
I wanted to call her a little shit,
But she’s a kindergardener.
I didn’t know what to do.
I was upset I was offended.
I have no coping mechanism for this.
It reminded me of the time I met a new girl in choir,
And the first thing she said to me was did I know my two front teeth were longer than all the others?
Yes.
I’m aware.
That’s all I can ever say to bullies young and small.
Yes.
I’m aware.

5:
They look at me like they’re waiting for me to say something else.
I don’t know what.
That’s it.
I can come up with more to say.
If I were on a college campus it would be a day where everyone would look at me weird.
And the servers at the dining hall would cock their heads to the side.

6:
I want to go home.
I use that phrase as a litmus test of how bad a day is going.
Oh man, I only thought that three times before lunch.
I have no home to go to.
It would be worse back there.
I tell myself.
You’d be within driving distance of your mother.
But it’s become a Monk’s chant.
I shower. I want to go home, I want to go home.
I cook. I want to go home, I want to go home.
I fall asleep, alone, after no one invited me out.
I pet the dog who can’t quite get her blind eyes to focus on my face.
I check my cell phone for messages.
I stretch familiar yoga poses in the dark.
I sing Prince songs I’ve heard a thousand times before.
I pretend to like the beer they’re drinking.

7:
She was on the second floor of this office building off a boulevard right off the exit of the highway.
The building next door stood empty.
She is black,
I didn’t want that to be a thing,
But I think worrying about it was wrong,
I tried to be normal,
So I guess, that makes it just like all my other interactions with people,
Trying to pass as normal.
Not wanting anyone to hate me, so they won’t tell everyone else they hate me.