Bonesetting

For years, she will lie awake and tell herself stories of the girl she’d been, in hopes of holding fast to every fleeting fragment, but it will have the opposite effect–the memories like talismans, too often touched; like saint’s coins, the etching worn down to silver plate and faint impressions.”

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab

It’s difficult to find moments that reassure me of writing as my path. Especially, when most of the work is toiling away alone–as my fellow writing kind know–private achievements like meeting a word count for the day or finally finishing revisions on a certain chapter, or the snatches of paragraphs and sometimes only lines or words I fit in in 20 minute increments (how most of my raw words are drafted). But there is a recognition and sense of achievement and belonging I feel at having something published. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a poet more than just a writer, that achievement after twisting and molding words, phrases, concepts into something that reaches into another human being’s chest is so vital to a creator who works with words.

So it is pride and great pleasure that I get to say my sixth poetry publication is appearing in Months to Years now. My poem Bonesetting is so very close to my heart.

You can read it at Months to Years, a literary venue publishing works on grief, by clicking the lovely pitch perfect image below:

Photo Credit: Months To Years

This poem, specifically the final lines, was a revelation. It unveiled to me the purpose and inherent movement of poetry: write to discover. If someone had asked me, I wouldn’t have been able to articulate this feeling about my father’s death getting farther away from me after creating life. But when I sat with this strange, tender idea long enough, it formed itself into Bonesetting. I hope you enjoy it.

Reaffirmation

With the newest publication of a beloved author on the horizon, she’s been live-tweeting as she reads one of my favorite works of hers. Naturally, I am comparing myself to her and finding myself lacking. Yes, folks, you can make negative, unhealthy comparisons to someone for which you hold pure admiration.

As I sit here making my mental comparisons, I  wonder why I even bother. What do I even have to say that’s worthy of anyone’s time? Does my work have any Meaning? (I promise the tone of this post turns around).  But as I cuddle my sick toddler, I open one of my poems on a whim, Nest.

That poem still makes me so proud. My epiphany, however, was noticing the poetic devices I employed, some intentionally like the image of home, but more importantly, some unintentional, like my partial rhymes. And then the end of it, how everything just came together and…happened. How I had written no less than 10 poems before this poem, trying to capture my emotions about being a new mother and having lost my father, and that final stanza expressed everything I felt more clearly than all of those attempts combined.

I think that, that final marriage of meaning, form, feeling, and rightness is a key to this whole “what do I even have to offer anyone” question. That poem almost created itself, using me as a vessel; I didn’t have the option to not create it. Is that enough to give work meaning? To say, I HAVE to write, therefore it has meaning. I don’t think so. What I have to offer is how much I enjoyed creating it, and THAT gives it meaning, because if you did it right, others can feel that coming through.

Time Consuming

Clock

I’ve been watching YouTube videos reading about manifestation through parallel realities, how envisioning what you want as reality can manifest it. Well, at the risk of sounding like someone who just joined a cult, it worked. Liquid Imagination published my poem, Time Consuming, today! I love this poem and the little monster inside me that whispered these words. You can read it AND listen to it for free (shout out to my husband for all of his EQ-ing and recording program wizardry)! I feel like this poem and the beast at the heart of it exquisitely translates to audio. This publication is extra exciting, because I’ve always wanted to be a voice actor or audiobook narrator. Don’t worry. I’m not one of those weirdos who is immune to hearing my voice on a recording. See tweet below for evidence.

But I do enjoy reading aloud. I’ve always been faster at understanding what I’m hearing than silent reading. I will say though, after twelve takes of this poem, I appreciate how much work goes into audiobooks.

In my last post, I suggested some different mediums to celebrate Women in Horror Month. For more ways to commemorate, check out Annie Neugebauer’s 9 Ways to Celebrate Women in Horror Month on Lit Reactor. In keeping with Annie’s third way to celebrate this month, I have to give a shout out to another woman in horror who gets me to my desk every Sunday morning to dabble in my dark proclivities: Carie Juettner. We met back in 2013, and our history just goes to show that online friendships can be just as strong. We’ve exchanged snail mail, attended a horror conference together, and traded our horror stories, novels, and poetry over these last six years. Check out her poem Night Walk in Dreams & Nightmares and her shudderingly good story Makeup, which you can listen to on Tales To Terrify. The narrator is fantastique!

To close out Women in Horror Month, I also want to share my first ever published work, The Insolubility of Nightmares, published by Hello Horror in 2013. Cutting a path for oneself in writing of any kind is an arduous, time-consuming process. Because of my publication today, three years since my horror flash, “The Wake“, and because I like circles, it seemed befitting to dedicate this post to the friendly person and fierce writer who inspired me to first submit my work, Annie Neugebauer.


If you checked out my first poem, The Insolubility of Nightmares, or read/listen to my new poem, Time Consuming, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Stages of Grief

I am excited to announce that four poems of mine, collectively titled “The Stages of Grief in Four Parts”, have recently been published in Taft College’s literary journal, A Sharp Piece of Awesome. I was invited to read at the release party Saturday—my first ever reading—and it was awesome!

ASPoA0001
I am in love with this cover.

A little history on these poems. Each one was written probably a year after the preceding one, the first one written the year my father died, 2011. It was only a couple years ago that I realized they somewhat aligned with the actual stages of grief: numbness, anger, depression, and acceptance. After realizing this, I decided they worked better as a unit and also served the memory of my father better together. That A Sharp Piece of Awesome has taken them as a whole means more than I could ever express. And, that my first reading could be of these poems is an honor I will always carry.

I have, below, a video of me reading the first two poems, “Cycles” and “From Regret”.

There are a number of well-written poems, stories, and vignettes in this collection that I had the joy of hearing at the release party, and I can’t wait to dig in! Currently, I do not think there is anywhere to purchase the journal online, but if it pops up anywhere, I will be sure to post a link.

For now, here are the two poems I read.

Cycles 

The stairs leading up to my home
shrink and swell with the seasons that pass,
creaking hesitance at wielding another load.

Father, flickering like a fluorescent about to die,
insisting I undertake the rite of my commencement.
Then gone—toxins corroding his ‘goodbye’.

Promises to take me and my sisters hunting
(he’d always wanted boys)
hanging like banners without wind in the open air.

Studying by lantern light,
sleeping in a cold bath
in his desert town,
he said it was for us:
his dogged pursuit of success
in a powerless house.

I hold his death close now,
like a handful of marbles,
afraid they’ll scatter
like his once cinched

fifty-seven years.
There is nothing left to immortalize
but what’s in me that was once his;
this is it

 

From Regret

It started with Hep C,
but right before
esophageal varices,
cancer on the already failing liver;
so from regret we are delivered.

No need to announce it
or advertise.
I’ll keep on living
the same old life.

No, I don’t feel bad for
smoking this cigarette
or having this drink.
Ignoring consequence
becomes a skill after so long.

I eat. I drink. I copulate. I sleep.
Do I stop one life to mourn the loss of another?
Do I get a tattoo that says ‘Dad,
R.I.P. one-one-eleven, Happy fucking New Year’?

No. I’d rather celebrate
his triumphs or explore his vices
as I enjoy this beer.

But not remembering the sound of his voice
in irritation or jest,
how he looked,
how he smelled after a shave or a cigarette,
therein lies the fear.

 

National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month, I want to post links to some of my favorite poems, including those of my almost-famous writer friends, and one of my own. Special thanks to poetryfoundation.org for providing free poetry to the masses.

Underneath each poem you will find a small story about how it has come to weave itself into my being.

I’ve talked about many of these poets already in this post  and this one too. But I have gathered them all here, alive and dead, for a poetry slam. So make your coffee or tea, turn down the brightness on your tablet so it feels more like a book, and cozy up close.

Icons

-in the order I encountered them-

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

I know this is so cliche and everyone who says they love Poe loves this poem. But it was the first of his that I read. And though I didn’t really think about madness or mental illness at the time I read it (6th grade, maybe?), I’m sure my encounters with Poe have contributed to my preoccupation with insanity and/or mental instability in my own works. Also, I often read this poem aloud like a prayer when I just need to hear a good story told by someone with way more problems than I have.

Desert Places by Robert Frost

My mom always had this jacketless volume of Frost around the house from which I’d memorized a poem for the Language Arts festival in grade school. For the life of me I can’t find it, something about fall leaves (I know! Good luck trying to pick one out of the thousands he wrote about fall leaves!). But then, in one of my favorite college English classes, Professor Barton read this poem aloud. I was instantly transfixed by its spell. If poetry is about translating what is inside of ourselves to connect with other human beings in this cold, unfeeling universe, then Robert Frost has melted down and reforged my soul in this poem.

The Tyger by William Blake

One of the most feared, difficult professors I would ever have assigned this poem in the first week of Romantic English Literature. She told us to listen for the sound hiding within it. Our next class, she revealed what she’d wanted us to hear–because nobody could figure it out: a hammer on an anvil. In rereading it just now, I just discovered the hiss of the metal being submerged in a bath of brine to cool in the penultimate stanza.

Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath

I remember being appalled by the gore of this poem. But after reading about Plath’s life–getting to know her, if you will–the words of this very poem haunted me and replayed again and again in my thoughts, until the next poem exorcised them temporarily away.

August Rain, After Haying by Jane Kenyon

I heard of Jane Kenyon in a dark romance indie movie. Random, I know. But the movie stayed with me, and from the first poem I read, I knew I hadn’t made a mistake in ordering the collection mentioned in the movie, Constance. There is no link for this poem because I could not find a source that had permission to link to. It is well worth checking for at your local library though.

Sleep Suite by Sharon Olds (or any poem by her)

As always, I am stunned at being given entrance to these intimate, family moments. These glimpses range in scope from personal to universal. I have had this exact thought watching my loved ones sleep, the same surprise, when brought together at a distant relative’s home, at how much my sisters have grown, how they’d claimed each their own branches of the tree from which we all came.

Poets I know

Rust Never Sleeps by Annie Neugebauer

In my opinion, this poem encapsulates the “realistic/life/quiet” side of the poet that she has categorized this poem under. It was one of the first–if not the first–poem of hers that I stumbled upon and read and fell in love with. It calls to mind William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow”, but I like hers more. 🙂

Enchanted Rock in September: A Tritina  by Carie Juettner

I remember reading the awe in this poem and feeling akin to my friend. It also helped that this poem brings you inside of it, so that you are standing on that enchanted rock too, looking at the same landscape and sky. This work made me think of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire.

Nest by Ashley B. Davis

To read more about this poem, see this post.

As a bonus, a couple of more contemporary poems I stumbled across:

Home (Initial Findings) by Franny Choi

I’d never experienced a poem like this before. Being visual, this poem hit me hard. It took some time to navigate, but the payoff is big.

Winter Stars by Larry Levis

I love poems that feel epic in scope, that capture generations’ worth of tragedy and triumph, and I love love love the nature/space/science–i.e. stars–in this poem.

 

Do you share any of my favorites listed here? What are some of your favorite poems? Please feel free to share links in the comments.