My free newsletter The Bone Folder is about cultivating presence and depth.
How do we create a practice to deepen as people? How do we commit to staying present to the endless excavation of the universe? The topics I cover include poetry, books, tarot, queerness, plant medicines, grief, minimalism, relationships, ancestry, religion/spirituality, psychology, history, words, and things made with the hands.
Sunlight through your skull you left me behind in the room full of your self Sunlight through your skull you left me with a mind unsure of itself Now you are spacious and a wild animal has come to live inside of me that I might call grief to try to keep it tame Now you are porous and my shaded face is dripping, opaque, and waits
The Art of Poetry
I am a descendent of Romantics; I accept this.
How to say that it happens? Usually an image or phrase that words coalesce around. You start writing, the words build on top of each other. You come to the stopping place and look at it all, briefly in love. Themes and connections that seem like they were made consciously appear to you. You’re sure there are others that others could find.
And then there’s the fiddling, which is sometimes quite short, sometimes extensive. Sometimes 75% gets excised, sometimes only a couple of words switched out. If there’s an opportunity for assonance or rhyme, I usually take it. The page gets quite messy, which is exhilarating, a foul copy. You copy it into a fair copy, which becomes another foul copy. Eventually it goes into the computer, but computers aren’t as good at being messy.
Some poems are journal entries, more or less chopped up prose, and those have their purpose although I would not send them to be published. They can get published here. The poems that require and reward more work go beyond the meanings of the words.
Because poetry is not just the meanings of the words, which makes it hard to read unless you are prepared to play, be befuddled, be heartbroken. Because words have secret and official histories, because they sound certain ways, look certain ways, because they react chemically with each other when placed in proximity, because they ooze chartreuse guts when broken out of idioms. And sometimes that takes some patience to understand, or grace to let understanding alone.
That’s what I’d say poetry is. Quite effortless and quite a lot of work at once. And the person who writes it? They always say that person must be attentive, which is true. Attentive to how anything that enters their experience could become a poem if they let it, if they’re willing.
You asked, so I don’t know how to say it was a violation. You asked for a kiss and then expected my tongue, my hips. I walked away like it was any other thing I said yes to and caved in on myself the rest of the day. Later your mind split me apart from all good things, which was a relief because my body can’t split the past from your tongue though I tried to convince you I loved you enough. The shame of saying yes just because it seemed unreasonable to refuse is fused with that other time and place. In those years since did you once think back and wonder if it was unreasonable to ask?
At the pink sliver sunrise while I cooked an egg my finger touched the burner and it felt rough, not hot. Today, then I remembered, is one of those days I am supposed to feel what I do not feel. The sun rises in the sky I break the yolk into my rice. I would rather have what was taken from my grandfathers than honor any thing for which anyone fought and died.
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