Word Perv
(noun): One who takes delight and is skilled at constructing, writing or saying naughty phrases or dialogue.
December 7, 2017

Tis the Season

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I’m the rare person who doesn’t particularly like Christmas. I think I started disliking the holiday when I was married to my first husband. He had children from a previous relationship and loved Christmas. But he didn’t love doing the work related to Christmas – the decorating, the shopping, the wrapping of presents. And then the very worst part – the un-decorating, the packing away of decorations, the un-Christmasing. Most of this fell to me and I started to dislike Christmas and become resentful. (Yes, I realize this hints at larger issues in my relationship but he is my ex-husband and hindsight is 20/20 so I’m aware of this and don’t need to dwell on this or hash through all that again. I already did it in therapy.) He and I separated in September, just weeks after returning from a vacation in Paris (which is a whole other story that will not be told right now). That year, alone in our big house, I didn’t have the energy – physical or emotional – to put up a tree. The next summer I moved to the DC area and into a house with a small living room that didn’t have space for a tree. Thus began the tradition I still continue today with not putting up a tree.

This year my husband and I moved into our new house. It boasts 20′ ceilings in the living room, a fireplace, and wooden banisters throughout. Some friends were over for dinner recently and she commented, “Your house will look great at Christmas!” I then broke her heart by telling her I don’t decorate for Christmas…at all… No tree, no lights, no garland, no stockings hung by the chimney with care. Nothing.

I told another friend of my dislike of the holiday and he looked at me as if I’d just punched a kitten. I tried to explain, “It’s just stressful. And work. And overrated. And commercialized. And the goddamn Starbucks was playing Christmas music at 5am and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” I may have frightened him a bit…

By now my dislike of Christmas has grown to epic proportions. My sister teases me about it, I jokingly say “Ba humbug!” to people, and even my husband is confused by my dislike of the holiday. But it’s just not my thing. And when I walked into the office earlier this week I stumbled upon a display that promptly made me take pictures.

I do not approve of this decidedly sad, deflated penguin…

 

I am not a goddamn candy cane maker…

I approve of this.

 

But then while sitting with some of my MFA writing friends recently, working on this month’s critiques, I grabbed my notebook and pen and started writing…a Christmas poem…

 

And after writing it I had to send it to a friend:

 

 

 

While I still don’t love Christmas maybe my friend is right, maybe this cold, shriveled Grinch heart is growing.

November 24, 2017

Dolly Parton

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The other night a friend and I were talking about music, specifically the 90s music that shaped our teenage years. We laughed as we scrolled through songs, jumping from one to the next, singing out loud and reminiscing about how the songs had shaped us. Then he asked if I liked acapella music. I confirmed that I did and he pulled up this song on his phone:

This might be the most gorgeous version of this song I’ve ever heard.

I love Dolly Parton. I think she’s a beautiful person with a beautiful voice and a heart that’s bigger than her boobs. And I mean that as a compliment.

When the song finished I turned to my friend and said, “I wrote a poem that quotes that song.” He laughed and said, “Of course you did.”

I’d actually forgotten all about the poem; I wrote it a couple of years ago. But after hearing that song I pulled it up on my computer and read through it. It, like the song, is about heartbreak. And while I don’t know whatever happened to the Jolene in the song, I do know what happened to the Jolene in my poem. And now, many years later, I wish them nothing but happiness.

Jolene

“And I could easily understand how you could take my man but you don’t know what he means to me.” – from Jolene by Dolly Parton

 

We were over by then, completely

finished. We’d both been through

the five stages of grief but I

circled back to depression.

 

You asked what you could do

and I said, Come over. Hold me.

We lay in bed that night, the first

time in months, and you held

me while I cried then said,

Please don’t write about this.

I don’t want Jolene to know.

 

I’d been the one to cause

the end, I know that, but you

moved on so fast – as if

the seven years we spent together

were best remembered through

the lens of a new love.

 

You stayed the night, holding

me, breathing softly

beside me. You left

before dawn.

 

I waited eight years

to write this poem.

I hope your wife

understands.

November 17, 2017

Rainbows & Shit

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I’m in Hawaii again, on what will be my last trip to the island for the year. My project here is wrapping up and I’ll be flying home next Tuesday. It’s always bittersweet when I complete a project because they are usually a year-long endeavor and I spend a lot of time away from home. The project location usually becomes a sort of home-away-from-home and this year that was especially true. Because it takes 12-hours to travel from my home in Arlington, Virginia to Honolulu, Hawaii, I tended to stay longer in Hawaii, at least two weeks but often three weeks at a time. I made friends here who were willing to go hiking, hit the beach, go out to dinner, and just hang out with me. It truly became a second home for me. It even started creeping into my poetry.

Most people who are familiar with my poetry wouldn’t call it happy poetry. There are a lot of adjectives to choose from but I’m pretty sure happy isn’t one that would be at the top of anyone’s list. Dark, intense, heavy — these are words more likely to be associated with my writing. And I’m okay with that, after all, recently published poems include one about abuse (because, published by Minute Magazine) and one about women’s rights/bodies (This Body, published by Glass). Neither of these are especially uplifting or light but I do think they are necessary and I’m going to keep writing these kind of poems. But that doesn’t mean a lighter/happier/friendlier poem isn’t going to slip in every once in a while.

It’s winter here in Hawaii which basically means it’s a little cooler, a little windier, and a little rainier.  But rain in Hawaii also means rainbows. A lot of rainbows.

Hello gorgeous!

 

As I drove to work a couple of days ago I spotted a double rainbow. Later that day when I spotted two more. When I looked out my office window – yes, you guessed it. ANOTHER FUCKING RAINBOW. All this color and cheer prompted me to do something I never imagined I would do. I wrote a poem that included a rainbow. And then I wrote another. And then I realized what I’d done and I panicked and posted this on Twitter:

Truth.

 

I wondered if this island was starting to affect me, if I was becoming a nicer, happier person. If I was going to give up my dark lipstick and black nail polish and I don’t know, start writing light-hearted poems. But before any of that could happen, life intervened.

Wednesday was an 11+ hour day in the office. I had to deal with a few major issues and I was swamped all day. I got too busy to run out and grab lunch which means I ended up with a raging headache by 2pm. When I finally left the office just after 6pm, the sun had set and traffic was shit. I got home, immediately fed myself, and then was in bed by 9pm, ready for sleep to take me.

And then nothing.

Well, not nothing exactly, more the opposite of nothing. So much was in my head that I couldn’t fall asleep. I lay awake for hours watching the clock march forward as thoughts raced through my head.

Insomnia isn’t anything new to me. I travel frequently and subject my body to changing time zones more often than some people change their sheets. It also probably doesn’t help that I’ve been in the emergency room twice in as many weeks – once for a migraine and once for muscle spasms in my back. Both are things I regularly deal with but when they get bad enough to require the ER and some serious drugs, it tends to take my body a few days to bounce back. So add that to a recent time zone switch, plus a super stressful day at work and you’ve got me, laying in bed, unable to quiet my brain and fall asleep.

At midnight I heard my work phone ping. It’s generally never a good thing if my phone goes off in the middle of the night and this proved to be no different. An emergency that kept me awake for another hour while we worked through the issue. Eventually the issue was resolved, as much as it could be in the wee hours of the morning, and I laid back down, trying desperately to fall asleep. I didn’t. Eventually I drifted off around 4am and slept till 5am, when my alarm went off. Because I was exhausted and knew I had several issues to deal with when I got to the office, I decided to skip my morning run and get a bigger cup of coffee than normal; I planned to head into the office early to get a jump on the day’s to do list.

I got in my car and had driven only a few blocks when I realized something didn’t feel right. I pulled over and confirmed, yup, a flat tire. I may have said a few choice four-letter words before calling my coworker to tell him I would be getting into the office late that day as I needed to change my tire. Then I got out of the car, pulled out the jack and the donut and got to work. My kind coworker showed up 15 minutes later to assist and decided the moment needed to live in infamy as it captured the true essence of the past couple of days.

Fuck off universe!

 

Eventually I got into the office and started slugging through work. I didn’t write a poem that day but I have a feeling the rainbows have left my poetry for a while. Maybe this weekend’s hike will bring a little lightness back into me. Honestly, as long as I’m able to get a few hours sleep, I don’t really care.

I’ve been awfully bad about blogging lately, but that’s not because I haven’t been writing or publishing or reading or anything wretched like that. I’ve just been busy. Pathetic excuse but there you have it, the excuse every adult rolls out for letting shit slide. Sorry dear readers, I’ll try to be better.

I’m still splitting my time between DC and Hawaii. Lots of flying back and forth, lots of long days, but also days filled with green mountains and warm beaches. Hawaii has been pushing into my poetry lately, in the last month I’ve poems with the following titles: Ocean, Tide, Shipwreck, Moon/Ocean/Lover, and Afloat — and those are just the ones I feel are good enough to edit and workshop, my poetry journal is filled with scribbled ocean-themed poems that didn’t the cut. It’s strange how a place can influence you, how you can fall in love a little at a time without realizing it.

Hello Hawaii, you gorgeous thing.

 

A while back I was interviewed by Kyle Flak for his column, Poets Not Talking Poetry, published by Maudlin House. Go ahead and read the wonderful weirdness that is this column. I also had a poem published by Milk + Beans. Head on over there to read my poem, Coming Home.

I’ll be finishing up my Hawaii project next month but will be back again in January, and then again next year for another project. I’m going to miss this place, but I’ll be back. Until then I expect my poems to be filled with salt water and sand and sunshine.  I’ll be sure to share them with you soon.

Write Bloody has long been my dream publisher. They are an independent publisher whose poets I read and admire and fan girl over. Most years they run a contest, seeking new poets to add to their publishing roster. This year, like last, I chose five poems and sent them in with fingers crossed. Last week I got my rejection letter from Write Bloody’s annual poetry contest. I wasn’t surprised but still took a screenshot and sent it to my poet friend Kristin.

She replied with her own letter from Write Bloody…except she was selected as a finalist!

To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. I was, and still am, so happy and excited for my friend. I am disappointed that I’m not a finalist but this absolutely does not dampen my excitement for Kristin’s finalist status. Here’s the thing – we creatives need to support one another. We need to sing each other’s praises and hold one another up. Because a win for Kristin in no way means a loss for me. It just means I’ve got to dig a little deeper, write a little harder, push a little further. It means I’ve got to keep writing and submitting and hopefully next time I’ll be a finalist too. And I believe it’ll happen one day. But until then I’m going to hold my friend up, I’m going to sing her praises and I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that she’s selected by Write Bloody because I’ve read her manuscript and it’s amazing and the world needs her words.

So this year I’m not a finalist but maybe next year will be my year. I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep submitting and I’ll keep getting my poetry into the world. In the meantime, please peek at Kristin’s video and support her by giving it a thumbs up.