Shadows, Poems, & Projections: Just a few haiku

It’s one thing to say I’m going to start writing the truth, as I did in my previous blog. Actually doing it? That’s quite another matter, but here’s a first attempt. When I write these haiku, whom am I speaking to? Who is the “you” in my poetry? As I was reminded in one of my classes last week (rather inelegantly, but still), whenever we point our finger at someone else, we are really pointing back at our shadow selves, those parts of ourselves we are at war with. We are always projecting our fears and hopes, desires and needs onto those around us. And so it is with my poetry. Sure, these may be inspired by a particular person. There’s a muse, to be certain, but on deeper reflection, I am “you.” You are me, and to paraphrase the Beatles, we are all together. Goo goo g’joob.

I loved the way you
Swept the door open and bowed,
Welcoming me in.

We had a language–
an undercurrent, riptide.
I drowned in your words

You bequeathed to me
This gift of desperation
Exquisitely wrapped

Stop outguessing me.
Just walk your way, and I’ll run
mine. We’ll meet midway.

You do walk alone.
Were you breathless, keeping up
With my racing heart?

I’ve been your hostage
Since I read that first poem–
Enslaved by those words.

I am the blue sky
And you are the deep green sea
Breathe the air between

Writing Trouble: A Few Words on Distractions and Truth Telling

Every writer I know has trouble writing. —Joseph Heller

Nearly every night I sit down with my laptop and open it to a blank Word document, convinced that this is the night I will begin my masterpiece, my opus, my version of the Great American Novel. And then I get distracted: laundry, dinner, cats, a funny lump behind my earlobe, the stupid TwoDots game on my phone. Words with Friends. Something. Anything to keep me from putting my thoughts down. There are a million things I will do before I finally succumb to that little voice, that growing voice, that roaring voice, the one that pushes and pulses behind my eyeballs, that makes my heart pound faster. I have to, at some point, listen to that voice, give in to that voice or I will explode. Maya Angelou is credited with saying that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside. I agree.homework

Another trouble with writing, with being a writer, particularly if one is a writer of nonfiction, memoir, creative nonfiction, is that telling the truth, or our version of the truth, is bound to offend someone. Probably we will offend someone close to us, a family member, a good friend. And we may throw lots of other folks under the bus—there’s an entire cast of characters from which we can choose: teachers, grandparents, doctors, lawyers, therapists, the barista who forgot your regular order. The waiter who seated you near the kitchen. Really. This is an endless list.

And there are so many reasons we need to keep the peace with all of these folks. We need them to like us. And, what we often forget is that the chances of anyone actually reading what we write is slim. Oh sure, our writing group might, and a teacher, if we’re in school. But Grandma? Uncle Ed? The barista? Not likely. So, really, this is not a good excuse to suppress the urge to write.

Never mind the friends and relatives, though. When I think about writing, about what I want to write, an overwhelming sense of responsibility immobilizes me. I can’t write anything frivolous, I tell myself. What I write should be Serious. And Thoughtful. Well considered. And I should have read as much as possible on the topic. I don’t want to offend anyone. What I write should have a moral, a takeaway, but subtly. I don’t want to be too didactic. My prose should be poetic and authentic. My metaphors had better be spot on. My grammar and punctuation, impeccable. Most importantly, I don’t want to be misunderstood.

mass-distraction-rrv33nNo wonder I freeze up. No wonder I’d rather play gin rummy on my iPad.

But no more. This year I resolve to write the stories. And if you happen to be a character in my life, oh well.

You’ve been warned.

New Year Haiku

Sitting, staring, contemplating

Sitting, staring, contemplating, notebook in hand.

During the holidays I had the luxury of time, during which I was able to write some new haiku. I’m always amazed at how a few moments of contemplation can result in words, images, and phrases arriving and coalescing into something more, how an hour or two staring into space or at the sea creates the space in me to realize metaphors and make connections.

I want 2016 to include more of these moments, stolen away from the pressures of daily life. I want 2016 to be a year of more poetry.

This ache, unyielding,
Spreads through my bones. Malignant
Love, metastasized.

Pulled by your tides and
Seduced by your moon, I float
Free in your salt sea

Dreams of you send me
Beyond the curve of the earth
Spinning through night skies

Wash me, erode me–
Rough surf, relentless pounding.
Can’t swim in these waves

I hope you don’t mind,
Ersatz inspiration, you
Are my makeshift muse

I want to be as
relentless as the ocean
pursuing the shore

Anxious attacks me–
All soft syllables, she bites
With ferocity

We could be breathing
Side by side. Instead you chose
Only to exhale

There’s new light on the
horizon. Nighttime will slip
Away into dawn

Some days I forget–
Even deep scars fade with time.
Blood and tears both dry.

I googled your name.
A thousand not-yous filled my
Screen. Damned imposters.

We are all blind in
Our refusal to really
See one another

Choosing blindness won’t
Render you invisible.
My vision is clear

Uninsulated
This fear electrifies–my
Body, conduit

Just a Few End of Summer Haiku

Here is my entire haiku output for August and September. Not much. Not many syllables. Haven’t felt inspired. Except for these few haiku. Enjoy.

I have stopped writing
Poetry for you each night,
My reluctant muse.

What if we just breathe
together? Inhaling the
essence of ourselves

Marriage should not be
reduced to a tally, two
columns, keeping score

Today we untwist
One last thread, our gradual
great unraveling

Still unspoken, the
Honest truth sticks in my throat.
Captive to these fears.

Our story landed
Hard on my heart–opening,
Tenderizing me.

Inhale these words—breathe.
Let me carve our script inside
of you, a rough draft

Haiku’s Slow Return

They are coming, the words, the syllables. Slowly, five-seven-five. Here are a few of the latest:

Muse
How hard must I wish,
To conjure your words from air?
Eyes shut. Hands open.

Life Now
Hot flashes, fever
Spontaneous combustion.
Sweep up my ashes.

Knowing
They knew no better
Trapped as they were by their times.
How will we be judged?

Dreams
It occurs to me
This is just fantasy. Still.
Possibility.

Happy Birthday Haikus

I’ll need thicker skin
If I’m going to keep this heart
On my sleeve alive

That’s it. That is the only haiku I’ve written in the past month or so.  After five months of what seemed to be inspired, non-stop poetry, the words have ceased flowing. Nothing makes sense. The metaphors seem forced, the similes thin. My haiku muse has abandoned me.

I supposed I should be grateful to have been smiled upon at all, thankful for the time we had, the syllables she gifted me, but I’m a little bitter. I thought I had a connection, a gift, a deal with the universe. If it would give me the words, I would write the poems.

But nothing in this life is guaranteed and I am grateful to have had the 120 or so haikus I wrote between January and the end of April.

Today is my 51st birthday and I want my gift to be the return of my poetry. Here are a few of my favorites in the hope I will be re-inspired:

A ribbon of words
Unfurls and I have written
The way to my heart

If I exhale words
Will you breathe deeply and find
Tattoos on your heart?

Words spark and ignite
Tender tinder, dry fuel
Strike a careful match

Play me for a fool
Or like a Spanish guitar.
My heartstrings. Your song.

Knead me with language
Release these tightly coiled
Naked emotions

Tired of falling in?
There’s a path without that hole.
Today I’ll walk there.

Starved for language and
Famished, I crave the constant
Conversation. Words.

Look. Hold the moon’s gaze
And feel gravity’s release—
Float away on waves.