Sunday, November 17, 2019

I Miss Cats, Anatomy of A Poem, Puttin’ Some Stank on It

Facebook in it’s infinite wisdom recently pasted one of those “See Your Memories” posts on my feed, where they dig out one of your posts from ten or twelve years ago and thrust it front of you with no regard to the emotional or psychological consequences. I ignore most of them, but this one was about when our cat Yoshi (now deceased) got stuck in a tree, and it was a funny memory so I re-posted it. I have no idea why Yoshi decided to climb up a tree that day, as he had expressed no previous interest in trees whatsoever. But climb he did, and when he realized he was stuck, he yowled like a banshee from hell and upset the entire neighborhood. That was quite an afternoon. We finally gave up on trying to get him out of the tree and decided he could either figure it out himself or just live the rest of his days out up there. Sure enough, he did manage to get himself down, then came to the door and stalked into the house, silent and dignified, as though nothing at all had happened and he hadn’t spent the last three hours crying like a little bitch. I love cats and I miss having them. But alas, my heart has been shattered too many times and I cannot love again.

The poem that I was somewhat more satisfied with last week underwent another procedure this weekend, and is again transformed. It’s interesting what time and distance will do in providing solutions to tricky poems. One of my co-workers recently ask me how my poetry was going, as she knows I have a reading coming up soon, and I told her that it was going okay, but that writing poems isn’t the sort of thing that you can do effectively on a strict production schedule. I’m finally starting to accept that poems evolve, ever so slowly and in their own time, and pushing the process is almost never effective. Part of the strain for me is this entirely self-created pressure to ensure that I have something “new” to read, because I feel like such a failure for not have written much poetry over the last few years. But I am trying to let go and trust in the poems to reveal what they need to bloom.

At my last session, my trainer told me that I had finally locked in good form after months of practice, and therefore I didn’t have to be quite as measured during my sets and that I should start “puttin’ some stank on it.” I didn’t ask for clarification because I’m proud and there was no way I was going to stand there soaked in sweat and tell some youth with two percent body fat that I’m too old to understand his street lingo. I nodded knowingly and gleaned internally that the general gist of that phrase meant that I should “go faster” and “be more aggressive” during my sets. Upon looking up the phrase up in the Urban Dictionary when I got home, I was heartened to discover that I wasn’t far off:

Put some stank on it: (phrase), (sl)- Phrase meaning to add a personal flare or special ability to any given task or action. As in throwing an especially fast fast-ball, or making a difficult billiards shot. This can be applied to almost anything where talent is a factor in achieving the desired result:“I've never seen such a shot pulled off under those conditions! He really put some stank on it that time!”

So, now I am puttin’ some stank on it. Gettin’ my swagger on. Trying to be "explosive” or at least go a little faster, I guess. I don’t enjoy this. I liked my measured, slow-pokey sets and now I sweat a lot and feel like a bit of a maniac. That’s the problem with progress. It just causes entropy.

While I am enduring a cat-free existence, I can at least live vicariously through Simon’s Cat videos:

--Kristen McHenry

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