Thursday, August 11, 2005

I keep you safe

Tony Robinson, new friend waiting on the west coast, said: Poetry is not, primarily, an intellectual exercise for me. I want to read poetry that makes me feel the same way I feel when I'm in love. That rush, that excitement, that giddy thing.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I remember a friend and reader saying about my manuscript: Some of these are persona poems, right? These aren’t all in your voice?

And I agreed, because I felt stupid and I often agree when I feel stupid, or can’t hear, which is some of the time, and I’m working on that; I’m working on being disagreeable and heard. But it wasn’t true. All of the poems were me. All of them were in my voice. I love writing dramatic monologues, and did a bit for a while, still do, but even those weren’t untrue. Even those were asking for what I wanted.

I don’t mean that my poems happen, I mean that they happen in me. I mean that I mean them, every word.

I don’t like talking about what poetry does, or even what fiction does. I’m less interested in the talking and more in the doing. It reminds me of being a college freshman and the coolest party in town, a salon of sorts, that met every Monday (there were few classes on Tuesday), Friday, and Saturday nights to smoke, drink martinis, listen to Big Bands. Everyone was lovely in their vintage dress. Everyone said smart things, stayed up all night. God, once I slept on the floor in there.

But no one actually did anything. Randy, the leader whom I secretly loved, flunked out of school, and last I heard, was bartending on a river boat that sunk.

I don’t write poems that make me sound smart because that won’t work. I can’t wear pantyhose and I’ll never know the proper words. The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies. I had never heard of Ginsberg until college. I read the only woman poet the town bookstore carried: Dickinson.

All I want is to tell stories that the fourteen year-girl that was me needed to hear, that she looked for and looked for, and could not find. I want them to know they are not alone, those girls. Those men and boys, too.

Also you. Even now you are not alone.

I often write poems (stories, letters, blogs) that make me look foolish, that open me up wide, that reveal me for what I am: simple, small town, a girl who doesn’t know how to put on eyeliner, and sometimes still wears ballet slippers, and goes to parades, and mispronounces words she has only read in books, and will never be a theorist, and will never rule the world, and has dirty fingernails (he said once).

But I tell you this much: I love, I love, I love. In everything I do, there is love. And I will not lie.

I am telling the truth. I am not snarky. I am not big city. I do not have connections. I do not have the clothes. I do not have the big words. But I have the big hope, I have the heart, and I have the key to the garden.

Believe me.