Sunday, December 13, 2009

Breaking Down

Breaking Down

What happens when you loose your joy, loose your way? When every fragment you put on the page seems ugly and stillborn, that you're tearing words out of mud, and they're making a sucking sound as you wrestle them out and plunk them down artlessly, resentfully? Become horrified and terrified and vulnerable? Feel a heaviness so thick and toxic you can't get air into your lungs, your hands freeze, your eyes go dim and foggy? And at the same time you're running. One step ahead of being found out for once and for all. You're burying the body of that abused girl, the one who deserved everything she got, as fast as you can, but you can't get the dirt to cover her fast enough. She keeps springing forward in her coffin like a filthy jack-in-the-box. They're going to know she's in there. They'll stare and stare. They'll pat your hand kindly and turn away. You have many bodies to bury; it's exhausting. Your exuberance keeps clawing her way out; the one who takes up all the space in the room, the one with the tiny knife, that one there who sings so terribly, that one with the too-loud laugh, the one who can't read, the one who is always behind, the one who has always belonged nowhere and deserves to be isolated, the one who flew out of her body at nine and never returned, the one who failed every test. You won't let them see it they can't see it they can't see any of it or. Or.

As you're burying your bodies, through the fog of your fatigue, you think dimly that maybe you have taken everything way too seriously again, especially--ridiculously--poetry, which should never be taken seriously. You need to read your self some Robert Service, preferably “The Shooting of Dan McGraw”, or “The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill”, then you need to go back the basics. You need to take a stance. You need a manifesto. Your manifesto is that you won't apologize for your spirituality, your total belief in the power of narrative, the beauty of language, the essential order of the Universe, the wholeness of the world, the ubiquitousness of compassion, the existence of love, the potential for all things to heal, to rebuild themselves, to become complete. The lack of failure in spite of the evidence. All of the perfection that is right here in front of us, free for the taking. The reversal of entropy. Your essential faith. Your great love of rhyming story poems. The way your minds shrivels up and crawls into a gray space when poets talk theory. But you're not supposed to say those things, can you say those things? You're supposed to be angry at language, at systems, at all the myriad ways that we've lost the plot, lost each other, there was never any plot there was never meaning it was all just a ruse, a marketing ploy the whole time and there's nothing left but scraps to glue together from other scraps, everything has shattered or crumbled, all the lines are down, we're picking at the garbage heap of rotting leftovers, smearing words on the walls in mud, always just missing each other, always missing the signals, hopeless and yet still trying because we are poets we have a job to do.

You decide it should be easy. Or at least easier that this. Or at least more fun.You decide you will only brush a few branches out of the way to make your way through a poem, you will no longer enter a poem that requires a hacksaw and a bulldozer to get to. You will stop. You will return to the beginning, to the first magic.You will pay attention. You will open your heart again, you will open your vessel, you will let it in, and then out. Simple as breathing. You will remember that time at the beach, that terrifying moment when you fell into a seashell and the ocean fell into you and the sky fell into the ocean and your friend was standing there outside of you but she was inside of you and you were inside of her, and there was nothing and everything all at once, and you were every single thing on earth, and a voice said, “All you have to do is fall into God”, and you almost did. You almost did.

You won't lie anymore. You will forgive yourself. You will be gentle. You will be grateful. You will cry at the drop and the landing. And you will put on a gown and you will brush your teeth and do your hair, and you will step outside without a coat and you will announce yourself to the world.

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