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November 17, 2017

Rainbows & Shit

Written by Posted in Poetry Comments 0

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.

 

Some big and exciting news: I’ve got TWO poetry readings planned for Washington state in October! If you live in Olympia, please join me at the Old Growth Poetry Collective Open Mic where I’ll be the feature poet. Thursday, 5 October at 6pm.

If you live in Seattle, please join me, along with the amazing Michael Schmeltzer, at TeKu Tavern for a poetry reading!  Wednesday, 11 October at 8pm. (Please note, this is a bar, you must be 21 to enter. Please also note it is dog friendly and you can bring your pooch. In fact, I’d love it if you brought your pooch since mine will be at home on the other side of the country. Please let me love on your dog a bit that night before/during/after I read poems.)

Details below, I hope to see you there!

And more details on the reading at TeKu Tavern:

 

 

August 30, 2017

Nasty Women

Written by Posted in Poetry Comments 0

On January 21st I marched in the Women’s March on DC. It was a day of hope and empowerment and amazing signs.

 

For the first time since election night I felt something other than despair. I felt like the world wasn’t ending and maybe the country would pull together and we’d survive. Of course, months later that despair has returned and every day is a new horror show with what the President has done or said or threatened to do. It’s been difficult but there’s always something I turn to: poetry.

Poetry keeps me going in times of darkness. Poetry gives me hope and faith and a renewed sense of purpose. And so I’m very excited that my poem, Promotion, is included in the Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. You can buy your very own copy and you should, this anthology will be filled with much needed poems. Poems to keep you going in times of darkness.

(Note, my poem Promotion was originally published by Thank You For Swallowing: Fuck 2016.)