I’m having trouble writing today. Hi, world. It’s been a while since I’ve been at the blogging thing, in major part because I’ve been working on my MFA and feverishly writing as much poetry as possible. Also because life has gotten busy, because I write for work, etc, etc.

But today, as in most days, I woke up early, made coffee, and sat down to read poems before working on my own, and after a while I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t think words on the page. I found myself scrolling through newsfeeds, again and again shocked/horrified/saddened by what’s going on in my state, and in the world at large.

Here’s a run-down:

  • Earlier this week, bombings in Brussels, Belgium killed many.
  • #Drumpf was carted out across major news syndicates, spouting his bigotry, xenophobic sweeping statements, and general inarticulateness.
  • And, yesterday, the state I live in (NC) passed a bill through its Congress that would allow people/businesses/organizations to discriminate against members of the LGBTQIA community, and repeal a more local ordinance protecting the rights of trans people to use the bathroom that best suits their needs.

I’m so fed up with all this. Each day, the world seems like a scarier place. Each day, America seems like a scarier place, like the fucking Twilight Zone, and I want to be all zen and love and light and shit about it, but instead I keep getting riled up. And I keep not being able to write what I want – that is to say, new poems – which is unimportant in the grand scheme of things but desperately important to me.

I think about writing politicos pieces, and at times I have, but they fall so short. I feel much about these events; I have no distance.

It’s a bit of a rant today but, at the moment, that’s all I have.

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Weeds – Nathaniel Perry

I told you I was worried. Water
had collected up against the foundation
from the rain we had, and you must have thought
I was talking about our foundation,

though I meant, of course, the one beneath
the house. But it was too late, your mood
had changed and then my mood was changed,
and we charged around the house mooding

and changing. I siphoned the water
away from the house, which took a while,
which was probably good. You made dinner,
which was good, and also took a while.

As we ate, the sun drew familiar
shapes on our walls, but we didn’t notice.
And then the light slipped down and made
a bright new shape, but we didn’t notice.

Well, lovelies, it has been a while! I didn’t realize it had been so long since I’d thrown anything up here.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know how obsessed I am with Nathaniel Perry (his brother, Drew, is also an incredible writer; it must run in the family). N. Perry’s whole book is beautiful, but I’ve been particularly drawn to this one lately. I love how real this is. I can very easily believe that quarrels between lovers start out this way, some misunderstanding both parties let blow out of proportion. Fault on both sides, silent brooding and mooding and charging (also, I just can’t get enough of that phrase, “and we charged around the house mooding / and changing.”). So I love this.

If you’re interested in reading more by him, check out Green Manures and Cover Crops; In Bloom, Where the Meadow Rises; Remaking a Neglected Orchard; and my ties for all-time favorite, Tried and True Ways to Fail and Grafting Fruit Trees.

Cheers!

Eight-Ball

My father taught me how to level
a pool cue across the bridge of my hand
on the table. He’d take me
to the kinds of bars open in daytime,
lit by dim fluorescents in the ceiling
and neon beer signs hanging
over faded green felt.

I would pour my own tall glass
from the tea pitcher on the wait table
while he placed the balls in their rack:
yellow ‘1’ at the head, black ‘8’ in the center,
a stripe-solid-stripe pattern resting
inside the white plastic triangle.
When he finished, he would knock
its three corners with the cue ball;
say it kept them all together.

I learned to recognize the clack
a pool cue makes against the ball when it needs
chalk; the feel of testing a shot before swinging
even, my arm a pendulum; and the number of scratches
against the lock his key would make
before I could offer to fit it in, turn the knob.

I’m excited to show off the final version of this poem, and to announce that it is doing well out in the world! It will be published in Issue 65 of Colonnades, Elon’s very own literary and art journal, which will be revealed on April 29. It’s also a finalist for the 2014 NC State Poetry Contest and an Honorable Mention for the Anthony Abbott Award.

On a personal note, it’s also probably the poem I’m the proudest of at the moment, so I’m thrilled it’s found a home in print and in these contests.

Coming to This – Mark Strand

We have done what we wanted.
We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.

And now we are here.
The dinner is ready and we cannot eat.
The meat sits in the white lake of its dish.
The wine waits.

Coming to this
has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.
We have no heart or saving grace,
no place to go, no reason to remain.

This came through my inbox the other day thanks to Poetry Foundation, and I was blown away by the sadness of it. I love, love, love poems like this one; its words are so simple, but it communicates something so true.