I’d rather be singing.
How about you?
I’d rather be singing.
How about you?
I said to Dave when I got home from school today, “You’re never bored, are you?”
He said, “No. I’m never bored.”
I said, “Why not? I’m always bored.”
“I don’t have a restless mind like you do.”
Right on the money. I do have a very restless mind. I wish-
And isn’t that the most useless phrase in the English language? “I wish….”
I wish I could visit somewhere or
meet new people
start a new project
find a new hidden coffee shop
set up a pottery studio or a darkroom
find someone to speak French with and wander off to a hidden coffee shop with him/her
be a back-up singer in a band
go take a ride on the Cape May Ferry
live by myself for a month
get into a Monopoly marathon with someone
stand in the wind on the boardwalk eating pizza from Mack Manco’s
drive north into Canada or south into Mexico
not be so bored.
Figured I’d share my poem from the newest DPP anthology What Sort of Fuckery Is This?
The book is, at it’s heart, a book about the fuckery of aging and the persistence of the human spirit.
And, without further ado, here is my poem. If you like it, maybe you can read the whole book!
Never Sink, Dammit
Her clean blond hair is neatly pinned up and shows it-
the tattoo on the back of her neck that says Never Sink-
an infinity 8 entwined into an anchor.
Though the tat is old, it still looks like it is new and barbed into her skin.
Her hands are dirty, grease smudged over and under her trimmed nails, on the skin,
from repairing her radiator this morning after she delivered the News Journal,
after she fell asleep for one, only one second while delivering the News Journal
and hit the decorative boulder of the development
into which she was driving to deliver the News Journal.
And if she was going to fall asleep for only one second
couldn’t the one second have been a second where her car went straight?
Maybe the stacks of News Journals had shifted in the back, pulled her into the rock.
Maybe it was inevitable.
Her arms are scratched and cut up, red
from reaching into the hot car to fix the radiator and put in the new hose,
which was a tight squeeze,
which was something she had to do so she could drive to college this morning
after cracking up on the paper route.
Paper route- Ha! What a name we give it.
I’m not talking smiling-1950s-ten-year-old-boy-with-a-perfect-bike-and-a-clean-and-neat-satchel paper route.
I am talking beat-up Chevy Malibu paper route
named Betsy just like my mother’s broke-down Malibu was,
and this student squeezed her pink, white, strong, tight-fleshed capable forearms in there
and fixed the dang thing herself
with skills she learned over time watching YouTube videos
because she got tired-a-paying for fixing.
My student’s fingers are covered with little dark spots that look like scabs,
which she rubs and tells me are probably chiggers,
and are probably on her back too,
and are probably from laying under the car in the sandy dirt next to the house in the early dawn,
after she got home from delivering the News Journal
because she had to fix that radiator quick,
quick as that one small dammed second she fell asleep driving.
Everything has to be quick quick
because she had to get the kids up and dressed and fed and washed and ready and off to school
so that she could go to school herself,
so that she could come to my class,
35 minutes late,
because she is so happy to be going back to school,
though she is embarrassed about her hands,
but I tell her the hands are okay.
I give her some oatmeal hand cream and a bag for her books,
stay 45 minutes late so she can finish an assignment from the next unit forward
because she craves the quiet before she goes to work at Walmart,
and she wants to be ahead in class assignments just in case. Just in case. She knows how it goes.
When she finishes next week’s work and hits submit, I tell her the truth,
which is that she is doing great in class.
And when she packs up my old book bag and rushes out the door to Walmart
her smile is a big as a smile can be
on a sinewy single mom who has spent the last 8 hours delivering the News Journal in the dark,
crashing her car,
fixing her radiator in the pre-dawn light on her back in a bed of sandy chiggers,
then getting her kids off to school with them looking like somebody cares and with hot food in them.
To rush to come and see me with a light in her eyes the tired can not yet extinguish.
To rush to come and spend two hours and 45 earnest minutes
pecking away on a one-paragraph summary of an essay
that analyzes zombie movies.
It was written by a privileged Hollywood son, that essay.
The school picked it for the classes to summarize
because it is “culturally significant”
because “the students can relate.”
My student leaves me that day, a week ahead on her assignments, smiling, stepping lightly.
I never see her again.
I guess this is the moment where people who believe pray,
but I have had too many of her sisters to believe in magic, though I look for her every day.
And every day morning slips away from me into afternoon, and I leave the classroom to head to my own second job,
second of three,
so, I know, when it comes down to it,
there is nothing to do but put the rubber on the road and burn it up as long as there is rubber to burn.
Fill up the bags with books and computer and work and supplies.
Sling ’em over the droopy shoulder.
Raise the empty travel coffee mug to all those seen and never seen again
Suck out that last little drop of wet air.
Vow to never sink, dammit.
And a cup a Joe “on me” to anyone who can guess where I am….. in the photo I mean, not literally right now, because that would be much more difficult; I mean, I could be anywhere; well, not anywhere because if you know me you know I don’t have flight-ticket money, and I’m far too responsible to just ditch on my classes; though wouldn’t that be fun; why, yes, it would, but then, of course who would pick up the… .
Hi All (if there is actually an “all” and not just a me!)~
Busy busy lately.
~Finishing up the new anthology with Dave (the hardest working man alive)…
~Helping my mama post her house on Zillow, and the like, so that she can move closer to us!
~Hanging out with Sophie in Philly for a check-up @ CHoP, and since we’re there, we could NOT skip soup dumplings. We ordered a dozen, as usual, and this time I only got 4, 4 of the dozen. Sophie is adorable slurping down dumplings, and I’m still hungry!
BTW, in Philly’s Chinatown I have to say avoid ViVi Bubble Tea. Every time I have tried to buy a drink there they have been rude (ignoring me) and mean. This time I asked the young guy behind the counter, after he sighed loudly over my request, “You don’t like me?” and he replied, “No. I don’t like you.” Wow. and OUCH!
I can recommend Tea-Do. They are always nice to me there, and they have cà phê sữa đá (I pronounce it cah-fey-sue-dah), which is probably my favorite coffee selection on earth.
Sophie, who used to be my green-tea-buddy, only wanted Gatorade. Blech!
In any case, my girl and I love love love Chinatown and our Chinese food, especially xiao long bao (see-ow lum-bow) – 小笼包 !
And, of course, driving in and out of Philly from my mom’s house we always pass the most amazing house in Philadelphia. If you’re gonna live in Philly, this is the place:
Well, that was quick!
Oh, arrrrgh! It burns it burns!
How do you feel when you are summarily rejected?
Oh my gosh, I just realized I never shared my appearance on the wonderful podcast, So, What’s Your Story, from Saltwater Media. Saltwater Media is run by Stephanie Fowler, and Stephanie also helps authors publish, in addition to hosting this great podcast with co-host Tony Russo. They are both very generous with their time, and I cannot thank them enough for having me on the show!
This is a good listen if you are curious about the “why” of Devil’s Party Press.
The semester began with a bang this week, as I was not finished anything I needed to finish for my prep, due to teaching new courses, administrators or program chairs who get things done after the last minute, and an internet crash that wiped all the classroom platforms clean.
I’ve been trying to catch-up ever since, and am feeling very short on sleep. And like I need a day off! Already.
Plus there is the new Halloween anthology to edit.
And then on to Judith’s book.
And I am so glad I quit the Chamber of Commerce.
And, if I didn’t mention it, I quit the Chamber of Commerce… though it’s been hard to tell as they have not yet left me alone-constantly bugging me.
Now, that I quit, now they want to talk about things with me.
Now they are interested in getting things done.
It is good to try new ventures.
It is equally good to figure out when they’re not working for you and give them up.
I wrote a new poem tonight that I quite like.
Although all this poetry is madness I feel. WTHell, after years of drought, I’m writing poetry… often. Why is that happening?
And I feel like each new one, whether I want it to or not, nestles down into my own elements of style, elements that I now see and recognize quite clearly for the first time in my life, and that makes me wonder if each of them is no more than the same girl in a different dress. Or frock. Wouldn’t it be nicer to say frock? What a word!
Does your writing always sound like you?
Have you ever owned a dress you thought of as a frock? Shades of Caroline Keene!
*Thanks to What Sort of Fuckery Is This? author Desiree Harvey for the photo!
What was I thinking?